By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (June 14, 2010) -- The Army's system for producing agile, adaptive, creative Soldiers is strained by nine years of war, said the service's secretary.
Secretary of the Army John McHugh spoke June 11 during a breakfast hosted by the Association of the United States Army's Institute of Land Warfare. He spoke about challenges faced by the Army's "generating force." That is the system of organizations and structures within the Army responsible for turning civilians into Soldiers, and later for developing those Soldiers into leaders.
Soldiers in Germany are debriefed after conducting a training operation where they entered a structure meant to simulate a home. When Soldiers are not assigned to a combatant commander, as in Iraq or Afghanistan, and their chain of command runs through the Army's chief of staff, they are considered part of the "generating force." Training, equipping, and sustaining of Soldiers, so they are prepared to fight as part of the "operational force," is part of the role of the generating force.
McHugh cited a memo written in February by Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Training and Doctrine Command commander. In the memo, Dempsey explains that TRADOC is suffering manning shortages that result in not enough experienced and well developed leaders to teach less experienced and less developed Soldiers.
It's the demands of the "operational force" -- those fighting now on two fronts for nine years -- that is consuming that expertise and hampering the generating force from developing strong new Soldiers.
"We have to recognize that after some nine years of war, the fact is our institutional ability to produce that creative Soldier has started to fray," McHugh said. "Our ability to train and equip those ready forces for the current fight, while taking care of the Army's Family, has been severely tested."
In his memo, Dempsey said TRADOC authorizations for military and Army civilian personnel have decreased. That manning has been filled with contractors that has resulted in a "de-greening" of the force. The general went on to write TRADOC is competing with the operational force for experienced officers. It's those officers, Dempsey said, that have the "field-tested knowledge and credibility to teach, coach, and mentor the officers following behind them."
McHugh said the Army must now put a new emphasis on the generating force, to ensure it can continue to produce the Soldiers the Army needs. He said the Army must ask itself if the "generating force of today is properly structured, properly balanced to produce and support the agile the adaptive and creative Soldiers and leaders so integral to the success of today as well as tomorrow's mission."
McHugh said that in the past, efforts have been made to affect improvements in the generating force. There have been studies and programs, he said, "some good and progressive and positive things." For a variety of reasons, he said, those efforts were "singular in their attempts." Now, he said, it's time for a "holistic approach, a better way forward."
McHugh reminded those in the audience -- including Soldiers, and defense industry representatives -- that it is well trained Soldiers who win America's battles, more so than the equipment Soldiers use.
"One of the reasons this Army has been so successful is because ... we always will do everything we can ... make every investment that's required to field the best equipment, the best weapons, the best platforms for our men and women in uniform," McHugh said. "But ... Army's success on any future battlefield will be answered at least as much, if not more, by the creativity, the agility, the level of intelligence of our future leaders, as it will (be by) whatever that new weapons system may look like."