Academic journal article Military Review

Training: Preparation for Combat

Academic journal article Military Review

Training: Preparation for Combat

Article excerpt

The revolution in American military doctrine introduced by AirLand Battle spawned a need for corresponding revolutions in both combined arms and joint training. In this June 1986 article, General William R. Richardson, then US Army Training and Doctrine Command commander, challenged the Army's leaders to accept the new training responsibilities inherent in the acceptance of Airl,and Battle doctrine.

IN 1973, GENERAL William E. DePuy, the first commander of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command, began a training revolution. His vision changed how the Army viewed training and how the Army trained soldiers, leaders and units. From top to bottom, the Army answered DePuy's call with an unprecedented dedication to training excellence to prepare the Army for war.

The training revolution continues. The Army's first priority in peacetime must be training. Highquality, well-trained soldiers demand that their leaders provide tough, well-planned unit training. That training must be realistic and challenging. Realism now means far more than live firing at Grafenwoehr or extended field problems at Fort Hood, Texas.

Excellent training means synchronizing maneuver, fire support and Air Force assets at the National Training Center (NTC). Excellent training means deploying to the maneuver rights area as combined arms teams with air defense sections, howitzer batteries and the tanks of the armored cavalry. Excellent training means exploiting the joint training opportunities of TEAM SPIRIT and REFORGER so that allied armies can fight side by side executing standardized procedures with skill and competence.

Our training must be backed up by expert leadership whose tactical and technical competence generates a great sense of confidence in those they lead. When this occurs, we will achieve high morale, tremendous pride in the unit, great satisfaction and increased combat effectiveness. The essence of leadership is to see that all of this happens. It can happen if our leaders and commanders have the purpose of mind to train their units as if they had to go to war tomorrow.

Those leaders and commanders must have a compelling desire to make their units the very best possible. They must have a love for the field and an intuitive sense of how to fight that unit or have it provide support to units that do fight. They recognize that excellent training is the foundation for a strong, positive rapport between the leader and his soldier. Those leaders must be dedicated to their soldiers and to providing the best possible training for them and their units. If their dedication is anything short of 100 percent, they ought to be doing something else because they are not trainers.

The Leader

Leaders and commanders cannot expect to undertake the training of their units and get the proper results if they do not know how to fight and support. Knowing and understanding the doctrine is imperative. That requires study and more study, followed by practice and more practice. I sincerely believe that good tacticians make good trainers, and good trainers make good tacticians. This is founded on the key leadership principle-be tactically and technically proficient.

We must afford our junior leaders the opportunity to practice in the science and art of war. We need to let them learn the hard way, out in the field. They must have the chance to make mistakes and then be coached by their superiors on how to avoid those mistakes the next time around. Junior leaders and commanders need the coaching and teaching of the senior commanders who have already acquired the experience of the field. They expect that, and they are due it. When we can provide our young leaders such a free opportunity to try something, and possibly make a mistake, we are teaching them how to take this initiative and how to take risks. They badly need this opportunity, and senior commanders must afford them that opportunity. Then, we will truly be growing superb practitioners in the science and art of war. …

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