FORT EUSTIS, Va. -- A group of 55 members of the Defense Orientation Conference Association traveled to Fort Eustis, Va., July 30 to learn more about how U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command trains Soldiers in defense of the nation, and how the command is helping design the nation's ground force of the future.

The Defense Orientation Conference Association is a nonprofit, educational association of citizens representing a range of industries, professions, media organizations and various levels of state government who travel to learn about important aspects of each branch of service. The program's goal is to provide its members -- who represent large segments of the American public -- a better understanding of military posture. However, the association does not advocate any particular military service or concept.

Members travel to installations such as Fort Eustis to receive briefings from senior Army leaders and tour training facilities.

During the group's to TRADOC headquarters, Gen. Robert W. Cone, TRADOC's commanding general, explained how the command provides trained and ready Soldiers for war, and shapes the structure of both the current and future Army.

"As long as we have Soldier in harm's way, my priority is to make sure they receive the best training possible," Cone said.

Cone said TRADOC trains nearly 600,000 Soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, civilians and international soldiers in 1,400 courses, and that the command is making great progress in improving the educational experience through the "Army Learning Model."

The Army Learning Model includes shifting courses from instructor-centered lectures to collaborative, problem-centered experiences according to Russ Cloy, the ALM implementation chief for TRADOC's Training Integration Directorate.

Cloy said TRADOC is working to "blend" training in a way that combines classroom training with hands-on experiences, supplemented by simulators and gaming technologies.

After the briefing, DOCA members saw the Army Learning Model in action at both the Army Transportation School Maritime Simulation Training Facility and the 128th Aviation Brigade's AH-64D Longbow Attack helicopter training facility.

Standing inside an aircraft hangar at Fort Eustis' Felker Army Airfield, surrounded by AH-64D training models, one DOCA member shared his enthusiasm for the Army's new approach to training. "I really was expecting this to be a boring briefing and had no idea this would be so exciting," said C. Michael Shyne of Alamogordo, N.M., and president of the Westsource Corporation.

Carl Neisser of Costa Mesa, Calif., and president of Neisser Company, Inc. and former sailor, shared the same level of enthusiasm when asked what the day's highlight was for him.

"The flight simulator," Neisser said. "There are 2,000 pages available on the screen. The highlighted stuff stands out in green. All you have to do is touch the screen to learn to troubleshoot specific areas of the aircraft. The ease of access to this information is incredible."

According to the command, TRADOC is leading the Army's transition into the future by shaping the Army of 2020, developing adaptive leaders, and organizations, modernizing equipment, and revolutionizing training.