Army Chief Discusses Future of Training

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2011 — Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey has put a lot of thought into ways to take the lessons learned dur­ing more than nine years of war and apply them to the military’s train­ing and edu­ca­tion pro­grams.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey speaks with U.S. Divi­sion Cen­ter sol­diers at Camp Lib­er­ty, Iraq, April 19, 2011. Dempsey has cit­ed the need for Army train­ing that will chal­lenge a com­bat-sea­soned force.
U.S. Army pho­to by Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
Click to enlarge

Dempsey, who spent two years com­mand­ing U.S. Army Train­ing and Doc­trine Com­mand before tak­ing his cur­rent post in mid-April, knew it would­n’t be easy to repli­cate the com­plex­i­ty of the oper­a­tional envi­ron­ment in the class­room or at home sta­tion.

“We can­not expect to cap­ture the imag­i­na­tion of com­bat-sea­soned forces that have been in some of the most com­plex envi­ron­ments imag­in­able for almost a decade by sit­ting them in a class­room and blud­geon­ing them with Pow­er­Point slides,” he wrote ear­li­er this year in a five-part series in Army mag­a­zine about the Army’s “Cam­paign of Learn­ing.”

“We must make the ’scrim­mage’ as hard as the ‘game’ in both the insti­tu­tion­al school­house and at home sta­tion,” Dempsey wrote.

Speak­ing in Feb­ru­ary at the Asso­ci­a­tion of the U.S Army’s Win­ter Sym­po­sium and Expo­si­tion in Fort Laud­erdale, Fla., Dempsey offered a glimpse of what’s like­ly ahead for mil­i­tary lead­ers.

“The chal­lenge we face is that we have to get ready for an Army that will have a poten­tial­ly insa­tiable demand to train and to expand the aper­ture away from strict­ly [coun­terin­surgery] to hybrid threats, full-spec­trum oper­a­tions, maneu­ver train­ing and all the things that we know can atro­phy over time,” the gen­er­al told the audi­ence.

Dempsey told the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee dur­ing his Army chief con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing in March that his chal­lenge is to build on a decade of bat­tle­field expe­ri­ence that’s proven the Army to be a coura­geous, resilient, res­olute, inquis­i­tive and adapt­able force.

“Our chal­lenge will be that these young men and women have had capa­bil­i­ties, author­i­ties and respon­si­bil­i­ties as cap­tains that I did­n’t have as a two-star gen­er­al — and I’m not exag­ger­at­ing a bit when I say that,” he told the pan­el. “And so con­tin­u­ing their devel­op­ment, … from that point, that much high­er entry lev­el than I had, is our chal­lenge.” Dempsey said troops sim­ply won’t accept a return to the pre-con­flict way of train­ing. “If we were a rub­ber band and have been stretched over the last 10 years, we can’t let our­selves sim­ply con­tract back to our pre­vi­ous shape, because they won’t stand for that,” he said.

Mak­ing train­ing as chal­leng­ing as pos­si­ble to ensure readi­ness, despite what’s expect­ed to be an era of reduced resourc­ing, is the goal behind the new Army Train­ing Con­cept. Intro­duced in the Army’s 2010 Pos­ture State­ment, it pro­vides the vision of the way ahead for the 2012–2020 mod­u­lar force.

The idea, Dempsey wrote in Army Mag­a­zine, is “to make train­ing more rig­or­ous and rel­e­vant by lever­ag­ing tech­nol­o­gy to cre­ate chal­leng­ing train­ing envi­ron­ments for our lead­ers.” The con­cept strikes a bal­ance between oper­a­tional and insti­tu­tion­al train­ing require­ments and offers dif­fer­ent ways to train beyond 2012 that will main­tain cur­rent capa­bil­i­ties while pro­duc­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of agile, ready forces.

A cen­ter­piece of the Army Train­ing Con­cept is Tradoc’s “Train­ing Brain.” This blend of capa­bil­i­ties, sys­tems, net­works and data repos­i­to­ries direct­ly from the Joint Train­ing Counter-Impro­vised Explo­sive Device Oper­a­tions Inte­gra­tion Cen­ter puts sol­diers smack in the mid­dle of real­is­tic oper­a­tional envi­ron­ments.

It “allows us to pull [a] stream of real-world data from cur­rent oper­a­tions in Iraq and Afghanistan, declas­si­fy it, and use it to build real­is­tic sce­nar­ios to sup­port train­ing through­out the Army,” Dempsey wrote.

In addi­tion, the Army is using the Train­ing Brain to cre­ate videos based on recent bat­tles and oper­a­tions to make them acces­si­ble on the Army Train­ing Net­work. “Sol­diers can use this as a tool to facil­i­tate their own learn­ing, whether they’re in a school­house envi­ron­ment, con­duct­ing home-sta­tion train­ing or even deployed,” Dempsey wrote.

Mean­while, the gen­er­al said, Train­ing Brain is help­ing the Army evolve mas­sive, mul­ti­play­er online role-play­ing games. These pro­vide a forum for sol­diers and lead­ers to inter­act and col­lab­o­rate using com­mon sce­nar­ios in a vir­tu­al envi­ron­ment — not only with sol­diers with­in their own units, but across the Army.

“This enables us to pro­vide real­is­tic and rel­e­vant train­ing and learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties at the point of need,” Dempsey said, while mak­ing train­ing stu­dent- rather than instruc­tor-cen­tric.

Dempsey shared the con­tents of an email he had received from a Tradoc school­house. Cap­tains attend­ing a career course had orga­nized vol­un­tar­i­ly into teams so they could com­pete against one anoth­er in an online role-play­ing game based on a rel­e­vant train­ing sce­nario. The offi­cers, he said, began giv­ing up their lunch peri­ods, com­ing in ear­ly and stay­ing late so they could con­tin­ue their train­ing expe­ri­ence on their own time.

“This Army train­ing cap­tures the imag­i­na­tion, chal­lenges the par­tic­i­pants and allows them to adapt the mate­r­i­al to facil­i­tate their learn­ing needs,” Dempsey said. It’s “a far cry from the death-by-Pow­er­Point approach with which many of us are all too famil­iar.”

Dempsey offered assur­ance that Army train­ing will nev­er lose sight of the fun­da­men­tals of “move, shoot and com­mu­ni­cate.” But look­ing toward the future, he said, leader-devel­op­ment pro­grams must pro­duce lead­ers who are inquis­i­tive, cre­ative and adapt­able.

“It should be clear to all after more than nine years of con­flict that the devel­op­ment of adap­tive lead­ers who are com­fort­able oper­at­ing in ambi­gu­i­ty and com­plex­i­ty will increas­ing­ly be our com­pet­i­tive advan­tage against future threats to our nation,” he said.

With that in mind, Dempsey said he makes a series of promis­es to stu­dents in pre-com­mand cours­es who are prepar­ing to become bat­tal­ion and brigade com­man­ders and com­mand sergeants major.

“I promise them that the future secu­ri­ty envi­ron­ment will nev­er play out exact­ly the way we’ve envi­sioned. His­to­ry con­firms this,” he said. “I promise that we will not pro­vide the opti­mal orga­ni­za­tion­al design nor per­fect­ly design the equip­ment that they will need when they enter into a future mis­sion. His­to­ry — espe­cial­ly recent events — con­firms this as well, although we do our best not to get it too wrong.

“And I promise that the guid­ance they receive from ‘high­er head­quar­ters’ will always come a lit­tle lat­er than need­ed,” he said. “We would be ill-advised to think that we will do much bet­ter than our pre­de­ces­sors in that regard.

“What I promise, how­ev­er — and this, too, is con­firmed by our his­to­ry is that it is always the lead­ers on point who are able to take what we give them, adapt to the envi­ron­ment in which they are placed and accom­plish the mis­sion,” Dempsey con­tin­ued. “Leader devel­op­ment becomes job No. 1.”

(This the sec­ond arti­cle in a series about how the Defense Depart­ment and mil­i­tary ser­vices plan to main­tain com­bat effec­tive­ness and readi­ness as the cur­rent oper­a­tional tem­po begins to decline.)

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →