FORT RUCKER, Ala. (February 13, 2015) — The future success of the Army will no longer be decided merely by having the best equipment or being the most technologically advanced, but by forward thinking and trusting in Army leadership, said the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command commanding general.
Gen. David G. Perkins spoke to Army leaders and Soldiers at the Seneff Building Feb. 4 about the Army Operating Concept to outline the future of not only Aviation, but the Army as a whole.
“What the Army Operating Concept does is it’s meant to drive change,” said Perkins. “It’s not meant to maintain the status quo — it’s meant to drive change. We’re thinking about the future.”
Rather than thinking about the immediate, Perkins said it’s vital to think ahead 20, 30 and even 40 years down the road, and to understand that the process will be a gradual process, one that starts with the human aspect rather than new equipment.
“Really the key to deal with winning in a complex world is we have to have great leaders and great Soldiers — it is the cornerstone, it is the Army profession,” he said. “Those young sergeants, those young lieutenants, they’re really the center of this. We will give them some equipment, but we’re really counting on them to figure out the best way to use the equipment and be very adaptive because we’re going to put them in a multitude of situations and a multitude of environments.”
Perkins said Army leaders must learn to be adaptive and think critically because not all situations will be predictable and everything doesn’t have a checklist.
Although the AOC looks at the big picture of the future of the Army, Perkins said the follow-through involves breaking the concept down and looking at each aspect of the Army.
“Now what we do is say, ‘OK, what are the subordinate concepts that have to go into this — how is Aviation going to fit into this, how is maneuvering going to fit into this?'” he said. “So, now we have to start getting into the details, both doctrinal details, organizational details, training, leader development, materiel — the bits and pieces that make it a reality.”
Army Aviation is a part of that concept with the Aviation Restructuring Initiative, which the TRADOC commanding general said was on track with the AOC.
“One of the things we say is we want to present multiple options to people and what the ARI is doing is allowing us to provide time and money to provide additional options for our Aviation fleet,” said Perkins. “It provides us with time, space and resources to give us additional options so we can present additional dilemmas, so it really is right in line with what we’re trying to do in regards to the AOC.”
One example of the changes brought about by the ARI is the change in the scout missions with the elimination of the scout helicopter. Perkins said there are different options when it comes to scouting, therefore the Army has to look at situational awareness.
“We don’t want people to get focused on things, we want them to be able to deliver capability. You have to deliver a capability to provide situational awareness in an unknown, unknowable, constantly changing world,” he said. “There are lots of different ways to do it, and we don’t want to overly constrain people and say the only way you can do it is with a scout helicopter. That’s why you have to look at the capability, not just the platform.”
The ability to adapt and change is crucial to the success of the future of the Army, and one way that Perkins said to do that is by not trying to predict who the enemy is, but rather describe what they’re going to do, which is avoid our strengths.
“I try to avoid getting get fixed on coming up with counter ideas,” he said. “We have to assume that whatever we buy, whatever we train people to do … it’ll only work for a short period of time. Eventually the enemy is going to figure out its weakness. So, we need to think ahead already. It’s like the Internet. If we thought about the Internet being a weapon system when we built it, we may have built it differently.”
In that ever-changing world, one of the biggest things the Army has to maintain is the professionalism of the organization in order for the AOC to be successful, said Perkins.
“(Army leadership) has always been the strength of the United States Army and it really has allowed us to do what we’ve done since 1775. What we want to do is to continue to take it up a notch because the world that we’re talking about is constantly changing. We have to have very adaptive leaders, and very innovative and critical thinkers at all echelons,” said the TRADOC commander. “The battlefield is very dispersed now and we’ve got to be able to maneuver things from widely dispersed areas to be effective. It’s a very leader-intensive endeavor when you’re spread out, and that’s why mission command is so important because it’s not just issuing orders and assuring compliance, it’s empowering people via commander’s intent to operate in your absence.”
One of the keys to the success of that structure of compliance and professionalism is due to the fact that professionalism was something the Army built into its doctrine since the 1970s when the organization became an all-volunteer Army,” said Perkins.
“We invest in people and we send noncommissioned officers, warrant officers and officers to get professional military education, and we talk about the values of the Army,” he said. “We reward compliance and we punish noncompliance. We try to instill that at every level of echelon, as well as professional military education. We’ve taken the time to outline it … it’s actually part of our doctrine, just like shooting an artillery piece. We have a book on being a professional because it’s essential to the way we have to operate.
“If we do one thing, we have to have a professional Army, which means we have to have well-developed leaders, we have to have well-disciplined organizations and every Soldier has to own their own professional development,” the general continued. “The rate of change of the world is happening so quickly, every time something changes in the world I can’t bring you back to Fort Rucker and give you a class on it. You’ve got to figure out how you are going to stay current with what’s going on.”