Jim Kouri
21st century warfare: US Army continues transformation
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By Jim Kouri
December 8, 2008

The United States Army considers the current transformation its most extensive restructuring since World War II. The Army has estimated that restructuring units from a division-based force to a more agile and responsive modular brigade-based force will require a significant investment through fiscal year 2011, according to a Congressional report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.

Public Law No. 109-163 Section 353 directs the Army to develop and implement a training strategy for the modular brigades. This law also directs the US Congress through its Government Accountability Office to report on the implementation of the strategy. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed Army training strategy documentation and interviewed Army training personnel.

While the Army's training strategy addresses each of the five elements specified in the public law to some extent, additional work needs to be done to fully develop the strategy.

The GAO's analysis indicated that the Army articulated the purpose of its strategy, but the remaining elements require further development. While an overarching performance goal has been established, the Army has not completed development of specific goals for live, virtual, and constructive training.

Moreover, neither constructive training events nor the goals for them are clearly articulated. The Army also has not developed objective metrics to measure performance against its goal, but relies on a commander's professional experience to make a subjective assessment.

In addition, the reporting process does not provide detailed collective training status and the funding model does not realistically estimate training costs. Until the Army fully develops the required elements in its training strategy, it will not be in a sound position to assess if it can achieve the long-term institutional benefits of having a consistently trained force, measure how well units have been trained, and accurately determine training costs.

The Army has taken some actions to implement its training strategy, but key implementation challenges remain, such as the availability of forces, limited capacity of the Army's training centers, and the availability of training personnel. While the Army is developing guidance to implement its strategy, commitments to ongoing operations have limited the availability of forces to train as envisioned.

The strategy is designed to support a model built on the assumption that a third of the Army's active duty brigade combat teams are deployed at one time; however, almost half of these brigades are deployed.

Moreover, units are currently spending much less than the 2 years in training between deployments envisioned in the model, and training is focused on mission rehearsal instead of full spectrum operations.

To support the model the Army's combat training centers must provide 36 combat training rotations for brigade combat teams by fiscal year 2010; however, the centers can only accommodate 28 rotations. While the Army is developing an exportable training capability to supplement the number of rotations conducted at the centers, the concept has not been tested and its costs are unclear, even though the Army has identified funding needs for fiscal year 2009.

Personnel short falls at the combat training centers also hamper implementation of the strategy. Without developing a plan to address the challenges of current commitments and limited capacity, the Army will not know if it will be able to meet its training strategy goals. Moreover, until the Army completes the testing of the exportable training capability, it will be unable to verify that the concept is the most appropriate approach to meet its training requirements or what funding is required to establish the capability.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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