The secretary of the Army has launched an effort to do away with time-consuming policies, regulations and training so commanders and soldiers can focus on improving combat readiness and lethality.
The service released a string of memos Friday in which Army Secretary Mark Esper alters and in many cases eliminates dozens of mundane requirements considered mandatory duties for commanders and units in the past.
"In order to build a more capable and lethal force, Headquarters, Department of the Army, is reducing requirements in brigade and below units; this effort focuses on a systematic simplification, reduction, or elimination of required activities (training and non-training) which consume commanders', leaders' and soldiers' time that they might otherwise spend building combat readiness," according to an April 13 memo signed by Esper.
"All Army units, organizations, and agencies will ensure that they prioritize execution of all activities and use time to enhance the readiness and lethality of our formations," it continues. "Commanders and leaders will ensure that they prioritize the time required to generate combat readiness."
Commanders have "full authority while making prudent risk-informed decisions to simplify, reduce, or eliminate those tasks which are not combat related," the memo states.
The Army released the nine memos, sent out between April 13 and June 4, after they surfaced on Facebook earlier this week.
The memos, in some cases, deal with simplifying training requirements on necessary battlefield skills.
Media awareness training is out. And the Army no longer mandates the time-honored tradition of personally owned vehicle inspections prior to long weekends or holidays.
Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training as well as improvised explosive device training, "as outlined in AR 350-1, is no longer a standalone requirement and should be incorporated into units' mission essential task training as part of the operational environment," one says.
Another memo states, "Substance Abuse Prevention training is no longer an annual requirement nor is it required for leave. Commanders may direct the requirement on a case-by-case basis or as mission dictates a need."
Transgender training is now complete across the total Army, so "units no longer need to report training status," one memo states.
Other memos deal with the mundane: The "semi-annual tool room/tool crib inventory requirement, as defined in AR 710-2, is reduced to an annual inventory requirement."
And "company commanders are no longer required to conduct internal audits of dining facility headcounts as outlined in AR 600-38."
Esper directs commanders to review their administrative processes and "reduce the burden on units and soldiers plus make recommendations to eliminate or simplify tasks back to HQDA G-3/5/7," the April 13 memo states.
For example, the Army will no longer require use of the Travel Risk Planning System, or TRiPS, as a mandatory document for soldiers to take leave.
"It is this type of burdensome requirement that unnecessarily weighs down our Army from focusing on its core mission," Esper said. "These types of tools may be used on a case-by-case basis when situations dictate, but not as a general rule. Completing a DA-31 leave/pass form, coupled with a safety briefing by the soldier's supervisor, is sufficient."
Commanders with the rank of major general and state adjutants general are delegated the authority to exempt units from mandatory training requirements in "instances where the unit can demonstrate insufficient time available to achieve readiness requirements," the April 13 memo states.
"Additionally, mandatory training will not have a prescribed location or method for conducting training. Online training may be used to supplement training conducted by leaders; but does not suffice as a substitute for it," the memo states.
"These memorandums will be captured in an Army directive that will be published this summer," according to Army spokesman Maj. Christopher Ophardt. "This directive will ensure that existing Army directives and regulations are updated to reflect the secretary's guidance."
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.