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FORT BENNING, Ga. (Jan. 23, 2013) -- The Maneuver Center of Excellence here is playing a key role in one of the Army's largest internal collaboration efforts.

Since early November 2012, leaders from the Maneuver Center of Excellence, or MCoE, and the Aviation, Fires, Intelligence and Maneuver Support centers of excellence have been working together to create and implement methods of collaborating on training, doctrine, and ideas.

"This effort is important because you never fight as just one branch," said Lt. Col. Kevin Parker, executive officer of the MCoE's training and operations division. "I'm an Armor guy and in any field problem or deployment situation, it's never just Armor. You have Aviation, Fires, other elements all working together."

The collaboration effort began with a meeting Nov. 7 at Fort Rucker, Ala., home of the Aviation Center of Excellence, in which centers of excellence leaders outlined preliminary ideas. Two more meetings followed in November and December to refine objectives and scheduling, and most recently, leaders presented concrete objectives here at a meeting Jan. 7.

The collaboration effort will follow five lines of effort: expanding cross-center of excellence course integration, talent management, ensuring doctrinal consistency, refining warfighting challenges and simulations.

One of the focus areas will be the captain career courses, particularly the Maneuver Captains Career Course, known as MCCC, which is held at Fort Benning. The course trains mainly Infantry and Armor captains and promotable first lieutenants in battle staff leadership and combined arms command.

"The MCCC is one of the premier courses in the Army for developing our future leaders," said Lt. Col. Kevin Capra, deputy director of training. "With so many things happening at the company level, captains really are at the tip of the spear."

One of the efforts of the cross-CoE collaboration has already been incorporated into the course. When a MCCC student interacts with aircraft or fires in virtual training simulations, captain career course students at the Fires and Aviation centers of excellence control those elements.

Additionally, as a result of the collaboration meetings, small group instructors from outside the maneuver military occupational specialties, or MOS's, will be incorporated into the MCCC. Currently, all of the course's small group instructors are from Infantry, Armor or Special Forces.

By fiscal year 2015, collaboration leaders plan to have permanent instructor slots for three captains each from the Aviation, Field Artillery, and Engineer branches to instruct in the MCCC. The first two Engineer instructors have already arrived. The Field Artillery Captains Career Course will also receive two instructors each from the Armor and Infantry branches by fiscal year 2015.

"Our doctrine before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan focused more on combined arms, and bringing in instructors from combined arms is part of getting back to those core competencies," Capra said. "This will help us develop our future leaders because if you only get one point of view, do you really appreciate what aviation or artillery can do on the battlefield? This way, you're not just getting a maneuver guy's opinion on it."

Ranger School and the Army Reconnaissance Course here will also see changes as a result of the centers of excellence collaboration.

Beginning in March, initial entry rotary wing pilots, or those who are learning to pilot specific types of helicopters, will come to Fort Benning from Fort Rucker to train with students in those two courses. When training exercises in Ranger School and Army Reconnaissance Course call for air support, the students will receive it from the Fort Rucker pilots.

Processes relating to doctrine writing will also be streamlined thanks to the collaboration. The Maneuver Center of Excellence is responsible for 32 doctrinal manuals, all of which pertain to combined arms.

While the MCoE's doctrine developers have already been collaborating with other centers of excellence as a matter of routine, they will now meet quarterly through video teleconference rather than on an as-needed basis.

The regularly scheduled meetings will also allow for more commander involvement.

"Being able to get more leaders involved will help expedite our processes," said Col. David Beachman, chief of the doctrine and collective training division.

Formalizing the meeting timeline will help cement the working relationships between doctrinal developers at different centers of excellence and ensure they become enduring, said Curtis Archuleta, deputy chief of doctrine and collective training.

The MCoE's doctrine developers have also been tasked with creating a doctrinal definition of air-ground integration, a term that pertains to the synchronization, planning and use of ground and air maneuver and fires. Currently, no formal definition for the term exists.

Collaboration meetings between the centers of excellence leaders are set to take place quarterly.

"This will help keep the momentum going until it becomes institutionalized," Parker said.

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U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence