By Capt. Kyle Key, National Guard BureauMarch 27, 2012
CAMP JOSEPH T. ROBINSON, Ark. (March 28, 2012) -- As the U.S. Army moves toward a peacetime force, more than 180 general officers from the National Guard, Army and Army Reserve met to discuss maintaining ready and effective forces by working together and sharing resources at the Reserve Component General Officer Conference in North Little Rock, Ark., March 26-28.
During the conference, Gen. Robert W. Cone, commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, discussed the need for an overarching narrative, and unveiled the structural and human transitions needed to reposition the future force within that narrative.
"We have got to get the Army right," Cone said. "We have to have a compelling narrative from left to right that starts off with strategy -- the national strategy -- what the Army must do. Then next to that we have to [determine] the Army's capabilities in terms of how the Army will have to fight. Then we design a force structure; we define organizations and come up with requirements for specific equipment. The problem with that is that we were so focused on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, we lost that narrative."
"This structural transition is going to be painful," Cone said of the vision for shaping the Army of 2020. "We're going to machinate over it. It's going to be very, very difficult. But we're going to get it right."
One of the major decision points concerning force structure, according to Cone, is whether brigade combat teams should gain a maneuver battalion, increasing from two to three. Also at stake is whether an engineer battalion should be added to maneuver brigades. The new force structure has not been finalized, but Cone noted his recommendations will soon reach the decision of Secretary of the Army John McHugh.
As to future force equipping, Cone said he and his staff continue to work with the Reserve component to improve modernization of the Army and bring "common sense" to acquisition reforms by getting all parties involved for a Soldier-approved solution.
"By the time [equipment] gets in the hands of Soldiers, it's not what we wanted it to be," Cone said. "We need to bring in requirement writers, industry, testers and come up with the requirements." Cone also pointed out an increasingly critical member of that team, saying that it's "Soldiers who will tell you what the right technological solution is."
As Soldiers return from Afghanistan, Cone said he is most concerned about the human transition and keeping those who have brought solutions to real-world combat challenges interested in the Army.
"If I were a 30-year-old company commander, been down range three times and looking at the United States Army -- whether active or Reserve -- would I want to invest my future in this force?" Cone asked. "When you hear about things like changes in retirement, you hear about things like reductions, you hear about restructuring, you look at that and say 'Is this really what I want to do?'"
Soldiers who have joined throughout the last 10 years will soon experience an unfamiliar Army. The challenge for TRADOC, according to Cone, is capturing their imaginations, improving training, bringing back balance in doctrine vs. experience downrange and getting them excited about the future as they move forward.
One improvement Soldiers can be excited about is the revamp of the Army's doctrine. In an effort called Doctrine 2015, TRADOC is currently in the process of updating, stratifying doctrine and extracting immutable principles written by experts in the field. Instead of one echelon of 596 manuals, Soldiers and leaders will need to read only fifteen or so Army Doctrine Publications, or ADPs, of about 10-15 pages each in order to understand the Army's doctrinal foundation.
Cone said that the entire range of ADPs, plus several Army Doctrine Reference Publications will be available in August. ADRPs are manuals that provide more in-depth information about each ADP topic. Cone added that TRADOC will host a catalogued website with the latest tactics, techniques and procedures for leaders to search at any time.
In conjunction with the Army's downsizing, TRADOC's schoolhouses expect a reduction in their throughput this year, but not in their mission to support the Guard and Reserve. Cone said TRADOC trains about 90,000 Reserve component Soldiers at any given time and continually provides support to Guard and Reserve training centers.
"This is a team and this is a partnership," Cone said. "One thing we do at TRADOC is accreditation and assessment. We do that across the Army and work with your folks on a day-to-day basis. It is, in fact, how we share best practices across Training and Doctrine Command to make sure that we're delivering training at the point of need that is absolutely world class."
As plans move forward, Cone is focused on maintaining a close relationship with the Guard and Reserve and communicating the force restructure rationale to the American people.
"The military derives its strength from the support of the American people, so it's absolutely important that they understand what their Army is doing and where their Army is going," Cone said. "I think in many ways it has to do with leveraging all of the connections that we have. One of which, I think is so critically important at this conference, is the connection that . . . [we] . . . have in the National Guard and the Reserve in their linkages back to American society. If we meaningfully communicate what we're trying to accomplish, I think the American people will understand it far better."