A Spanish Army delegation led by Col. Juan Manuel Diez Acha met with U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Army Capabilities Integration Center, International Army Programs Directorate, March 28, 2017, on Fort Eustis, Virginia. The purpose of the visit was to coordinate the 2017 Spain – TRADOC Talks, which will be held in Granada, Spain, June 28 – 30, 2017. These talks provide an opportunity to exchange information, enhance interoperability and sustain key partner relationships. Pictured from left to right: Lt. Col. Jose A. Fernandez Alfaro, Maj. Alberto Perez Montes, Joe Patykula, Lt. Col. Francisco Jesus Dieguez Oliva, Wayne Kropp, Col. Juan Manuel Diez Acha and Maj. Rob Riggs. (U.S. Army photo)
Archive for March, 2017
Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s senior enlisted adviser, takes to the car at Fort Lee, Virginia, to answer a leader’s questions about noncommissioned officer professional development for his Soldiers. Join Davenport during and special guests during the upcoming TRADOC State of NCO Development Town Hall 4, which is scheduled for today at 11 a.m. EDT. During the fourth town hall, panel members will discuss a variety of topics including the Expert Action Badge, Occupational Physical Assessment Test, character development, talent management, improving written and oral communication in professional military education, and more.
Lead from the front, and make the force better for the future. Join the town hall live March 30, and learn more about being a steward of the profession: https://go.usa.gov/xXqYY
Soldiers can also ask questions on TRADOC’s Facebook page under the State of NCO Development Town Hall 4 event discussion tab or tweet questions to @tradoc using #TRADOCtownhall.
WASHINGTON (Army News Service) — The Army awarded a contract Tuesday for a helmet that weighs an average of 22 percent less than the one currently in use but provides just as much protection, according to officials.
The Advanced Combat Helmet Generation II contract was awarded to Revision Military in Vermont to produce up to $98 million in helmets over the next five years. The contract was mentioned Wednesday at the Senate Armed Services Committee, subcommittee on airland, during a hearing about Army modernization.
Brig. Gen. Robert L. Marion, deputy of acquisition and systems management for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, told senators the helmet and other lightweight body armor items now being developed are among the Army’s most promising new technologies.
The new helmet is made from ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, a lighter material than Kevlar, but reportedly just as strong. It can stop 9 mm handgun rounds, officials said, along with various shell fragments.
Collaboration with industry, academia and government research laboratories enabled the weight reduction without compromising integrity, according to Program Executive Office Soldier at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
“The partnership between the Army and industry is critical,” said Lt. Col. Kathy M. Brown, product manager for Soldier protective equipment. “With a renewed focus on research and development, our goal is a revolutionary leap in technology for personal protective equipment in the future.”
The weight difference between the new ACH Gen II and the current helmet depends on the size, explained another PEO Soldier official. In the most common size of the helmet, a large, the ACH Gen II will weigh just under 2.5 pounds, about 12 ounces less than the current large ACH.
The most weight reduction will be in the extra-large helmet, officials pointed out. That size will see a reduction of nearly a pound.
The helmet weight reduction will help Soldiers reduce mission fatigue and enhance their situational awareness, according to PEO Soldier officials. They believe the lighter helmet will increase Soldier effectiveness and overall survivability.
The new helmet will also be available to other military services through Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, just like the current ACH.
“The procurement of the ACH GEN II is the result of the Army’s modernization program to meet one of the Army’s top priorities — lightening the Soldier’s load,” Brown said.
LIGHTENING THE LOAD
Heavy, bulky body armor has been a problem for many years, said Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the Army’s deputy chief of staff, G-3/5/7, who also testified at the hearing.
“We went into Iraq back in 2003 and all this stuff started getting added to us like a Christmas tree: side plates, groin plates, neck plates,” Anderson said, adding that all the protective equipment weighed Soldiers down and caused them to move almost “like robots.”
The new integrated head, neck and face protection that is now being developed is promising, though, Anderson said.
The Integrated Head Protection System will include an enhanced helmet, a visor, a mandible that protects the lower jaw, and a “ballistic applique” that can be attached over the base helmet. The complete ensemble is scheduled to be fielded in 2020.
In the meantime, though, body armor is already being fielded to better fit women and smaller Soldiers, Marion told lawmakers. Body armor is now being customized to fit the smallest stature Soldier to the biggest, he said.
“What we’ve been able to find through testing recently is that we have the same level or greater protection for up to 26 percent less weight,” Marion said of body armor being engineered at the Army’s Natick Lab in Massachusetts.
“And that’s weight that we can’t off-board to a mule or something else,” Marion said, referring to the SMET mule — the squad mission equipment transport — which is a vehicle being designed to follow along with an infantry squad and carry up to 1,000 pounds of gear.
The SMET is basically a four-wheel cart that will roll autonomously without a driver, carrying food, water, batteries and equipment for a squad, in order to reduce the weight in Soldier rucksacks, explained Lt. Gen. John M. Murray, the Army’s deputy chief of staff, G-8.
He said the Army is working with industry and attempting to lower the estimated production cost of the SMET.
LIGHTENING ARMORED VEHICLES
Personal protective equipment is not the only armor that needs to be lightened, Murray said. The problem with upgrading armor on vehicles is that it increases their weight, he said.
“The next upgrade of the Abrams (tank) will once again increase the weight,” he said. “We’re just about reaching the limit of what we can do with the Abrams. So it is time for us to start looking for a next-generation tank.”
“For the very near term, the Abrams is still at the top of its class,” Murray said, but added there is parity out there, with other countries now fielding tanks that can compete on the battlefield.
Armored vehicles like the M1 Abrams tank and M2 Bradley are expensive to replace, so in the meantime, incremental upgrades must continue, Murray said. At the same time, new technologies must be explored for a next-generation vehicle. What he said must be found is a new technology that can significantly lighten armored vehicles, but provide the same level of protection.
“We must do both,” said Maj. Gen. Robert M. Dyess Jr. about upgrades and new development. Dyess is the acting director of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Army Capabilities Integration Center.
“There is an urgent need to modernize existing equipment,” he said, “and undertake developmental programs to replace the workhorses that have provided overmatch and have served our nation so well.”
(Follow Gary Sheftick on Twitter: @SheftickARNEWS)
WASHINGTON (Army News Service) — The Army now has two-year enlistment options for 91 military occupational specialties as a new incentive to offer prospects interested in joining its ranks.
The traditional options for enlisting for three, four, five and six years remain in place, according to Brian Sutton, a U.S. Army Recruiting Command spokesman.
Soldiers who opt for the two-year plan and are found eligible will do two years of active duty, followed by two years in the Reserve and then four years in the Inactive Ready Reserve, he said.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, commander of USAREC, said:
“We believe this shorter enlistment opportunity will appeal to young men and women who want to take some time off between high school and college. It allows us to demonstrate to them in a short period of time that the Army is about much more than a job. It’s about experience, education and leadership.”
Snow added: “From a different perspective, shorter enlistments allow us to put more veterans back into society, which we see as a positive. The veteran population is shrinking, which is a problem for us because veterans play a key role in telling the Army story and encouraging young people to consider service.”
(Follow David Vergun on Twitter: @vergunARNEWS)
Editor’s Note: A PDF link of eligible two-year enlistment MOSs can be found here.
As I prepare for the upcoming town hall, I wanted to update you on concerns about the relevance and rigor of our noncommissioned officer professional military education, or PME. We have the results of several Army-wide surveys and studies that have provided valuable insight into the effectiveness of NCO PME, and we are taking action. As part of a larger effort to improve PME, we are developing a common core curriculum to be standard in all of our Advanced and Senior Leader Courses.
Loud and Clear
Since 2005, the Center for Army Leadership has conducted an Annual Survey of Army Leadership, also known as the CASAL. Active-duty, Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers, in the rank of sergeant through colonel, are asked to answer a series of questions on leadership, some of which are the same each year. By asking the same questions over time, we are able to garner valuable analytical data that helps identify where we need to improve.
For the past seven years, the CASAL results have indicated that 47 to 56 percent of you do not perceive NCO PME to be effective at improving your leadership capabilities, and the courses did not adequately prepare you for assuming increased responsibilities. Some of your comments include:
Not enough emphasis on leadership skills, too much technical training.
Content is outdated, not challenging.
Course was not relevant, did not prepare me for my next job.
Was just a check-the-box requirement so I could get promoted.
These sentiments were validated in one of the largest Army surveys ever conducted, the NCO 2020 Survey. With a 21 percent response rate from the 390,000 sergeants to master sergeants surveyed in 2013, you overwhelmingly expressed your dissatisfaction with our education system, while clearly stating that leadership education is important to you.
When asked what should be given the highest emphasis in PME, 76 percent replied “leadership skills.” Considering that there is no standard leadership curriculum for ALC and SLC, there is certainly a gap in what our courses are providing and what your expectations are.
Additionally, in 2014 the Department of the Army Inspector General conducted an Army-wide inspection of leader development. Over the course of six months, the IG visited active-duty and Reserve component units at eight continental U.S. locations and two locations outside the U.S., finding much the same results.
The report indicated that 97 percent of NCOs interviewed claimed that the Noncommissioned Officer Education System was heavily focused on technical skills with very little focus on leadership development. The IG report recommended that TRADOC develop an education strategy and revise Programs of Instruction, or POIs, to emphasize the importance of professional education as a key component of leader development.
An essential element of the NCO 2020 Strategy is focused on leader development. In fact, several of the key tasks within the Development line of effort are directed at improving and rebalancing NCO PME. Based on the strategy, a Department of the Army Execution Order directed TRADOC to develop a standard common core curriculum for ALC and SLC, and we are moving out on it.
For the past several months, the great training developers at the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy have been diligently writing lesson plans to support the common core initiative. Aimed at providing a balance of knowledge and abilities, needed at the right rank, which builds upon each level of PME, the common core will be progressive and sequential providing our NCOs the leadership skills they need. For example, at the Basic Leader Course, our future sergeants will learn how to conduct training and will be taught the skills needed to give a class focused on individual training tasks. Later at ALC, the NCO will be taught training management focused on planning and executing small unit collective training events. At SLC, future platoon sergeants will receive a deeper education on training management and resourcing collective training requirements. This progressive and sequential approach will be applied throughout the common core curriculum.
While a lot of good work has gone into determining gaps in our education and developing the right curriculum to close those gaps, there is still a lot of work to do before you will see our courses change. With 169 different POIs for ALC and SLC and the challenges that come with delivering PME to our Army National Guard and Army Reserve partners, we are taking a deliberate and methodical approach to implementing common core. It will be a few years before we are complete, but as the old adage goes, “anything worth doing is worth doing well.”
In the meantime, I want to keep hearing from you. Join us for the upcoming State of NCO Development Town Hall 4 March 30 at 11 a.m. EDT. I value your feedback and look forward to seeing you there.
Our NCOES has been what sets our Army above all others. It is because we invest in the development of our NCOs that we are the envy of our allies and enemies alike. In 1973, Army senior leaders committed to the development of our NCOs. Coming out of a long, protracted fight in Vietnam and transforming to an all-volunteer force, there was a need for a professional NCO Corps. That year, TRADOC was established; the NCO Creed was written; doctrine was published on preparing for a known threat; and the NCOES was established with four levels of PME.
Today, we are winding down from another long, protracted war while facing an ever-increasing operational tempo. Army doctrine has been overhauled to reflect an unknowable threat, and our senior leaders are investing in the improved development of our NCOs and evolving NCOES into the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development System, with six levels of PME. These are historic times for our NCO Corps, with changes designed to produce the best trained and educated NCOs capable of adapting and winning in a complex world. It is time we put the “Leader” back into our Advanced and Senior Leader Courses.
Victory Starts Here.
FORT EUSTIS, Va. – (March 22, 2017) – Senior leaders from across the active, Guard and Reserve components joined U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command to discuss the future of the Army during a senior leader summit March 21 and 22 on Fort Eustis, Virginia.
Now in its second year, the goal of the FORSCOM-TRADOC Summit is to generate discussion and collaboration on how the commands can better work together.
“This summit provides us with the ability to shape the Army as it’s changing,” said Gen. David Perkins, TRADOC commanding general. “What we talk about today is how do we get there, and how do we set ourselves up for the future?”
Perkins opened the summit by providing an overview of the command, comparing how TRADOC builds the Army to building a car: First comes the design of the car; then acquiring the materials; next is building the car; and finally, making any needed improvements to the vehicle.
“Once we get the car to a certain point, we hand it to Forces Command, and the final customer is the combatant commander, who will drive the car,” he said, adding that if any improvements need to be made, the car is given back to the manufacturer, or TRADOC.
“We design the Army, we acquire the Army, we build the Army and we continue to improve the Army,” Perkins explained. “FORSCOM makes ready the Army, and [Army Materiel Command] sustains the Army.”
One of the challenges TRADOC faces is the need to increase training capacity as the Army increases. Although auto makers can increase the size of their factories, the Army solution may not be as easy.
“How do we increase the factory if TRADOC is the factory of the Army?” Perkins asked.
In some military occupational specialties, the advanced individual training is currently running 24 hours a day to meet the demand.
“We are running AIT in overdrive,” Perkins said.
Gen. Robert Abrams, FORSCOM commanding general, also acknowledged the high operations tempo of the force, which creates a number of challenges in maintaining readiness.
“We are busier now than we were at the height of the surge – because we’re globally engaged,” Abrams said. “But we can’t do it alone; it requires teamwork across the Army to pull this off.”
One example of this teamwork is through the National Guard.
“Two years ago, there was no inkling of Guard divisions,” Abrams said. “Today, we have two, and we’re training to prepare them for operational deployment.”
But even with the high tempo, Abrams said readiness is improving in personnel, equipment and training, noting the importance of training.
“It’s going to take time to train to standard, but it’s the exact right thing to do,” he said. “We are making a ton of progress.”
Throughout the summit, commanders – which also included all divisions and corps leaders – discussed a number of topics critical to the Army, including readiness, combat training centers, Multi-Domain Battle, sustaining mission command, informing the force of the future, the operational environment and increasing end strength.
At the same time, command sergeants major from across the total Army met separately to work through improvements in four main areas: schools, talent management, fitness and sponsorship.
This summit provides a “great discussion about how we help our Army,” said Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, TRADOC’s senior enlisted leader.
Davenport said in order to affect lasting change throughout the Army, the changes they discussed would be assigned to respective senior enlisted leaders.
One of the areas Davenport asked for the group’s help with was in understanding not only the challenges of accessing 6,000 new Soldiers, but also in retaining an additional 9,000 Soldiers.
But even as the Army increases, the TRADOC command sergeant major emphasized that standards are critical and will continue to be enforced.
“Oftentimes, what I get hit with is that we have no standards,” Davenport said. “We have standards to get into the Army, and we have phases within the Army that you must comply with before you move on … standards-based progression, or you go back, or you separate from our Army.”
As a result of these standards, TRADOC provides FORSCOM with Soldiers who have passed the Army standard for physical fitness, can shoot rifles and have demonstrated competencies in in Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills as well as being able to meet the high physical demands required by the career management field.
“There are standards and there are processes in place, and you have to meet the standards to move on,” he said.
Like TRADOC, FORSCOM was also looking for ways to work together to improve the force.
“We’re here to try to make things better,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Schroeder, FORSCOM’s senior enlisted leader, as he stressed the importance of talent management and sponsorship.
“When you bought a new car, did you check the oil before you drove it off the lot?” Schroeder asked. “Sponsorship is like buying a house. When you buy a house, you do a home inspection. We have to look at our sponsoring troopers more like purchasing a house than buying a car.”
Another area for improvement is “buying time” for Solders. Schroeder pointed out another challenge is that Soldiers aren’t getting a lot of “head-on-pillow” time, or time spent at home, because of the amount of time required for deployments and training.
“We’re trying to find some time for them because that does affect retention and families,” he said, which in turn, affects the entire Army.
“We’re pretty busy – I know everybody’s busy, but how busy they are has an effect on all of us, and that includes TRADOC.”
The next summit will be held at FORSCOM headquarters in spring 2018.