|Story & photo by C. Todd Lopez, Army News Service
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Army must transition now from a force of
execution to one of preparation, said the commander of the Army’s
Training and Doctrine Command.
As the opening speaker at the 2013 Association of the United States Army
Institute of Land Warfare Symposium and Exposition in Fort Lauderdale,
Fla., Gen. Robert W. Cone discussed how the Army must change as it
transitions out of Afghanistan during a time of fiscal drawdown for the
Gen. Robert W. Cone, commander, Army Training and Doctrine
Command, discusses the Army’s transition from a focus on
execution, to a focus on preparation, during the Feb. 20
opening of the 2013 Association of the United States Army
Institute of Land Warfare Symposium and Exposition.
Cone said one thing the Army must do is “invest in the process” of
acquisition. He said over the last 12 years, the Army has gotten away
from traditional processes for acquisition, and turned instead to rapid
acquisition to provide for the needs of Soldiers in theater. Rapid
acquisition bypasses the traditional acquisition processes the Army
would normally use, and in some cases doesn’t pay attention to cost.
“The reality of it is, with money being much harder to come by, we are
going to have to make fewer, but bigger decisions, and they will have to
be informed by process,” Cone said.
The general also said the Army must start planning for the future. With
the drawdown in Iraq complete, and the drawdown in Afghanistan coming,
the Army must shift toward looking at the larger problems it may face in
the future, and take an intellectual approach to solving those problems
and how to apply resources against them.
Finally, Cone said, the Army must be looking for long-term innovations.
“An order of magnitude of change and generational capability change,” he
While the Army has enjoyed a “high degree of success” for more than a
decade now in theater, Cone said “Big Army” must now shift its focus to
the future. So while the Army has become very good at adjusting quickly
to changes in both the tactical and operational environment in theater,
that’s no longer enough.
“Strategically, we have been fighting the same fight now for about 12
years,” he said. “And I think that as we look to the future we have got
to be prepared for both strategic and operational adaptation.”
Improving on the experience level of those Soldiers and the Army, and
preparing for the future, he said, requires an approach that pays
special attention to doctrine, organization, training, materiel,
leadership and education, personnel and facilities.
The strategic environment continues to be as dangerous now as it was
when the Army started in Afghanistan, Cone said.
“The world as we know it today is as dangerous and complex as at any
time in our past,” he said, saying that the effects that can be
delivered by non-state actors through the use of technology is
Cone said that what the enemy has used against the Army in the past,
they will continue to use, and will tie into that even better
technology, including unmanned aerial vehicles and the proliferation of
“The trick from their perspective is to prevent us from ever
establishing that sort of lodgement within a theater of operations,” he
Cone said the enemy understands U.S. military strength, its Navy and Air
Force, for instance, and its intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance capability as well as its ability to deliver precision
“They will avoid our strengths at all costs,” he said. “They will
prolong conflict, attacking our national will, and then they will use
strategic levers, events on the ground, that will cause us to fight in
ways we do not want to fight, and thereby prolonging that conflict into
the future. It is dangerous, in my opinion, to undertake combat
operations without a fully developed set of capabilities, reflecting
air, land and sea.”
The Army’s chief of staff, Gen. Raymond Odierno, has characterized the
Army as being in an era of “prevent, shape and win,” Cone said.
Demonstrating a full range of capabilities is a key component to
prevention of conflict, Cone said. When America shows what it is capable
of doing, it lets others more accurately assess their desire to engage
in conflict. The Army also shapes the strategic environment by working
with, training and creating interoperability with coalition partners and
indigenous forces. Additionally, Cone said, the Army can currently win
the conflicts it engages in, and must maintain that capability in order
to be effective with the other two elements.
“The reality of our business is that no one stands in line behind us to
answer the call of this nation,” he said. “The Army will do what others
cannot. And we have to maintain that capability. And we are doing that
right now under an assumed 490,000 cap, with a capability of 32 combat
brigades, 10 divisions, and four corps.
“When we lose the ability to win, I’m not so sure our ‘prevent’ and
‘shape’ is going to be quite so effective,” Cone said.
The general said the Army must shift its activities now from one of
resourcing the fight in Afghanistan to one of being prepared for future
conflict. But making that shift must be done carefully, in order to
prevent Soldiers from losing interest in the Army and leaving.
Young Soldiers, Cone said, know an Army where “the world is defined by
having everything you need to do all the training that you want. If
there is a problem it’s somebody’s job to get it for (you) in terms of
making things happen. We are about to cross into an environment where
that will change.”
Soldiers have high expectations of the Army, and Cone said he is
concerned that severe cutbacks to things like home-station training, or
the ability to conduct exercises, will have a “very serious negative
impact on retention in these generations.”
A challenge for the Army, he said, will be getting the balance between
near-term readiness, and the investment in readiness for the future.
“Cutting the near-term readiness too greatly is going to create an
exodus for us, and a great deal of dissatisfaction,” he said.
An Army of “preparation” is one that has shifted the focus to long-term
readiness, and to do that the Army must invest in leader development and
institutional training programs, Cone said.