Tactically Savvy’ Force Must Reframe, Commander Says

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2011 — After 10 years of war, the Army needs to “reframe” itself beyond tac­ti­cal capa­bil­i­ties, and focus on areas that have had to take a back­seat to coun­terin­sur­gency train­ing, the com­man­der of U.S. Army Europe said yes­ter­day.

“We are a tac­ti­cal­ly savvy Army that has been fight­ing a spe­cif­ic kind of con­flict, and it’s now time to expand our­selves a lit­tle bit,” Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling told defense reporters here.

The Army needs to resume train­ing for con­flicts oth­er than coun­terin­sur­gency oper­a­tions, he said, and focus on sys­tems that often get neglect­ed dur­ing extend­ed peri­ods of com­bat: train­ing man­age­ment, sup­ply account­abil­i­ty, sol­dier dis­ci­pline and coun­sel­ing and men­tor­ing.

“I think, because we were in such a rush to field forces, that we ignored some intri­ca­cies” that oth­er­wise would get done, Hertling said.

The speed of oper­a­tions in Iraq and Afghanistan meant that in some cas­es, suf­fi­cient analy­sis of mis­sions and equip­ment did­n’t hap­pen, he said. While Army mis­sions have been over­all suc­cess­ful, some tra­di­tion­al sol­dier and leader skills have been neglect­ed, he added.

Lead­ers at all lev­els should be men­tor­ing and coun­sel­ing their sub­or­di­nates “two lev­els down,” the gen­er­al said, adding that he coun­sels brigade com­man­ders, who should be coun­sel­ing com­pa­ny com­man­ders.

“The dis­ci­plin­ing of sol­diers, the coun­sel­ing of sol­diers — if we’re going to reduce our Army, and all indi­ca­tors are that we are, we’ve got to [retain] the very best, and those very best have to be coun­seled and devel­oped and trained,” the gen­er­al said. “But they also have to be dis­ci­plined.”

Army recruits in the 21st cen­tu­ry are in a sense elite, he said.

“Only about 25 per­cent of the avail­able pool can even meet the require­ments for enter­ing the ser­vice, from either a phys­i­cal per­spec­tive or a skills per­spec­tive or a learn­ing per­spec­tive,” Hertling not­ed.

The Army has to fur­ther devel­op those recruits with the organization’s val­ues and dis­ci­pline, he added.

“Being a sol­dier is tough,” he said. “It’s some­times like laser brain surgery, the things that we ask these young kids to do � they are the Napoleon­ic strate­gic cor­po­ral, at times.”

“A sol­dier is very dif­fer­ent than some­one on the street, and this has been an approach that we’ve tak­en as part of the ‘pro­fes­sion of arms’ cam­paign: a re-look at what we say are our pro­fes­sion­al val­ues, and how we live them,” he said. “Not just say­ing we do it, but hav­ing the video to match the audio.”

That cam­paign began in Octo­ber 2010, when Army Sec­re­tary John McHugh and then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey direct­ed Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey, then com­man­der of Army Train­ing and Doc­trine Com­mand and now chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to review the pro­fes­sion­al­ism of the Army “in an era of per­sis­tent con­flict.”

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray­mond T. Odier­no is now “lead­ing the charge” in the cam­paign, Hertling said.

In a Feb­ru­ary 2010 let­ter announc­ing the cam­paign, Dempsey wrote, “We need to review, reem­pha­size and recom­mit to our pro­fes­sion. We need to ensure that our leader devel­op­ment strate­gies, our train­ing method­olo­gies, and our per­son­nel sys­tems all con­tribute to defin­ing us as a pro­fes­sion.”

Hertling acknowl­edged there are some “dis­ci­pline prob­lems that we have not paid as much atten­tion to as we should” in today’s force, and esti­mat­ed 5 per­cent of sol­diers fall into that cat­e­go­ry.

Lead­ers must not over­look acts of indis­ci­pline, he said, and must address inci­dents of mul­ti­ple offens­es.

When he assumed com­mand in Europe, Hertling asked for a list of sol­diers with more than one cita­tion for dri­ving under the influ­ence. The num­ber on the list sur­prised him, he said.

“When you’re real­ly, tru­ly look­ing at build­ing a small­er, more pro­fes­sion­al army, those are the kinds of things you have to address,” he said.

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