FORT LEE, Va. – The commanding general of Training and Doctrine Command visited Fort Lee Feb. 2, and discussed various topics critical to the Army’s operational effectiveness in the near future.
Gen. David G. Perkins, in his first year at the TRADOC helm, gave a nearly two-hour presentation about the Army Operating Concept to a filled-to-capacity crowd of mostly students at the Green Auditorium located on the Army Logistics University campus.
Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lyons, Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee commanding general, hosted the event attended by most of the CASCOM leadership. This was Perkins’ second trip to Fort Lee as the TRADOC CG. He visited the installation within weeks after taking over TRADOC in March 2014.
Perkins provided the audience an AOC overview as he has done on numerous trips around the world. AOC brings forth ideas relating to how the Army will prepare for and operate on future battlefields. It is being developed around the framework of Force 2025 and Beyond, a strategic vision that prescribes the Army’s needed capabilities to win against an assortment of future adversaries.
As the Army pursues its strategic vision, it is in the midst of personnel and budget cuts that will create a substantially smaller footprint over the next few years. The institution is going about the mandates with sensitivity and transparency, said Perkins.
“The Army chief of staff (Gen. Ray Odierno) is keeping the end-state in sight and not just looking at numbers,” he said. “That’s in regard to keeping the quality of people we want, the capabilities we want and doing it in the most logical a manner as possible.”
In terms of bringing AOC to fruition, Perkins said the Army’s learning institutions will play an important role in implementing the new doctrine; however, he didn’t detail what changes the schoolhouses might see. Fort Lee is home to one of the largest school populations in the Army with elements of the Ordnance, Quartermaster and Transportation schools located here as well as the ALU.
During his talk, Perkins described how the Army prepared for war prior to its involvement in Southwest Asia and the doctrine that will dictate how it will do so in the future. He said Army forces will be required to address a complex world at the strategic level in addition to the operational and tactical levels of war, and do so with a more holistic approach to winning.
“When we were talking about the Air-Land Battle (doctrine) and fighting in the tactical and operational level of war, it was about synchronizing and delivering firepower,” he said. “What this is about is synchronizing and delivering national power.”
Perkins described “national power” as the Army in its role as the chief warfighting service component and the use of all joint, interagency and intergovernmental assets to form an effective fighting force.
“Firepower is what you need at the tactical level,” he said. “National power is what you need at the strategic level.”
In developing the AOC, Perkins said innovation will be a key component in the way problems are tackled. Under the Air-Land Battle doctrine, the West Point graduate said innovation was more targeted because the Army was preparing for a known enemy (the Soviet Union). In the new age of warfare, there are many unknowns and not enough time or money to appropriately address them, said Perkins.
“That’s why we need to talk about the rate of innovation – how quickly we can innovate,” he said. “Known differentiation only works in a known world. In an unknown world, you have to increase your rate of innovation.”
Perkins implied that the “rate of innovation” not only applied to technology but to people as well as tactics, techniques and procedures.
Lastly, said Perkins, AOC is largely dependent upon a better trained and developed Soldier, and the Army will have to change some of its academic and training practices to achieve those ends. More emphasis has to be placed on a strategic mix of institutional knowledge and practical experience that enables Soldiers to perform missions with a certain level of independence, he said.
Perkins is the former commander of the Combined Arms Center, an Army think-tank that heavily figures in the Army’s transition to a more adaptable fighting force.
TRADOC is an administrative component charged with overseeing the Army’s 32 academic institutions and their training of 500,000 Soldiers and other military members yearly.