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Army adopts new training focus

The Army will shift the focus of its combat training centers away from a decade of counter-insurgency to one that forces combat units to adapt to the multi-mission battlefield of the future.

Senior service leaders attempted to lay out the future role the Army will play in the U.S. military’s strategic blueprint for the next decade. As America prepares to leave Afghanistan, the Army, like all the services, is wrestling with how to prepare its forces to handle a range of complex, strategic and tactical challenges.

“This is about not having to guess what we are going to have to do; this is about having the right capability as we move into the future, and we need this capability. There is no doubt about it; all you have to do is look around the world,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said Oct. 22 at the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2012 annual conference.

“I see a large role for the Army if you look at the defense strategy. … Whether it be creating stability, whether it be deterring and defending, whether it be defending the homeland, whether it be cyber, whether it be space – the Army has major roles in all of those missions.” To help prepare combat units for this multi-mission focus, the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., have begun to create a new style of training rotation.

“We are rebalancing our home-station training and our combat training centers rotations to address the full range of military options,” said Lt. Gen. William Garrett III, deputy commanding general of Army Forces Command.

Units from the 10th Mountain Division at NTC and the 82nd Airborne Division at JRTC just completed what’s now known as “decisive-action rotations vs. the more [common] counter-insurgency rotations that we have done for the past decade,” Garrett said. Odierno also stressed the importance of the new focus at the combat training centers.

“We just did a rotation last week at Fort Polk where we tried to put together what we think the future environment will look like,” he said. “It was really successful, and it was really hard. It’s going to be one that has terrorism, it’s going to be one that has criminality, one that requires some conventional combined arms all together at once. It causes commanders to think on all levels of how they use the resources available to them to mass and mass properly. Massing could be using cyber.”

Leaders also plan to change the Army Force Generation Model to have active force move from a 36-month to a 24-month readiness period, Garrett said.

“This allows us to develop ready units in a 12-month train/ready period followed by a 12 month availability period,” he said. National Guard and Reserve will continue to generate forces over a 60-month readiness period.

“The important thing is how we adapt to this new strategy environment,” Odierno said. “Our plan is to prioritize leader development. … We are going to adapt our readiness and training models to better prepare units to operate in what we believe will be more and more complex environments that we are going to have to fight in.”

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