Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The U.S. Army Retools for "New" Threats

Story by Maj. John Alderman 
Georgia Army National Guard
Sept. 24, 2012


And so it begins.

Even as the Big Army takes a hard look at budget cuts, troop reductions, shrinking mission requirements, and evolving battlefields, the cascade of big complementary decisions has begun. How do we train? What do we train? What do we train for?

Says an article in today's Washington Post: "The new army, senior military leaders say, must become more nimble, its officers more savvy, its engagements more nuanced and almost certainly shorter. The lessons of the Arab Spring weigh heavily on war planners, with an array of threats looming in the Middle East and elsewhere. A high premium is being placed on devising the proper use of Special Forces, drones and cyber capabilities."

They reference Ft. Polk and the effect evolving missions will have on training. On one hand, this is all very real and these are big decisions we face. On the other hand, this article feels like it could have been reprinted from the 1990s.

About a thousand years ago, I maneuvered at the-post-that-shall-not-be-named as a tank platoon leader for Troop E, 108th Cavalry, the heavy team for a light brigade at the JRTC. Even before the current war started, already we were facing a not-dissimilar fight to the one described in this article. I rolled into the box with a full squad of infantry on my tank, ready to face a blossoming insurgency and, later, a heavy counterattack.

But back then, the National Training Center still had big battles out in its training area, when there were no "villages" and, I expect, no "Key Leader Engagements."

A lot has changed. Much sounds the same, including Gen. Odierno's call for adaptive leaders, as well as the concern about the siren call of the private sector. How do we train for the future fight? How do we retain our mid-career Soldiers - with their skills and experiences and talent?

And the Georgia National Guard will need to meet this challenge with budget cuts looming and wars winding down and cultures shifting accordingly.

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