FORT EUSTIS, Va. (June 26, 2012) -- The commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command had an opportunity to share his thoughts on the Army of the Future with the local chapter of the Association of the United States Army during a professional development forum in Williamsburg, Va., June 21.
Gen. Robert W. Cone opened the 30th annual forum, titled "The Army of the Future," where he spoke with members of the Virginia Peninsula General Douglas MacArthur Chapter of AUSA about U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command 's, or TRADOC's, priorities, challenges and the way ahead for the command and the Army.
"Our first priority in TRADOC will always be the preparation of our Soldiers and our units for ongoing combat operations in Afghanistan," Cone said. "When American Soldiers go into harm's way, they deserve the best training and the best equipment, and that will be job one."
In addition to continuously providing well-trained and well-equipped Soldiers to America's Army, TRADOC also faces the challenge of transitioning from 10 years of war to a peacetime Army.
"At the height of the surge, there were situations where, literally, kids would graduate from basic training, go right into the 3rd (Infantry Division) and deploy," Cone said. "We are returning now, across the board, to a more balanced approach of maintaining a warrior ethos, maintaining the lessons of the last 10 years -- but at the same time, changing the curriculum."
This change in curriculum means the future force will be an Army of preparation with a focus on training and leader development, the general said.
In transitioning to peacetime, Cone said the Army faces two major transitions: human and structural, adding that although TRADOC has always guided the Army through these types of transitions, the command also must think about tomorrow.
"Some would argue that the Army of 2020 is a little close-in for TRADOC to be focused on, and my argument is when you go from 570,000 or 580,000 down to 480,000, you can't cut away pieces of the Army," Cone said. "You have to think about fundamentally redesigning the Army."
But with the challenge of redesigning the future force comes an even greater challenge of maintaining the Army's greatest asset -- its people.
"These people, in the last 10 years -- at the point of the spear -- adapted this Army in a way that many of us senior officers could not see," Cone said. "We had the most experienced tactical force in decades.
But I'll tell you this -- when I talk to them, they're concerned with things like retirement, force structure cuts and what's going to happen."
Cone said the Army must capture the excitement and imagination of this generation of warfighters, and it's incumbent upon Army leadership to develop that vision.
And through initiatives like the Army Profession, leader development, the Army Learning Model and Doctrine 2015 -- Cone said he believes TRADOC is doing exactly that.