Academic journal article Military Review

The SBCT: Developing Agile, Adaptive Soldiers

Academic journal article Military Review

The SBCT: Developing Agile, Adaptive Soldiers

Article excerpt

The Stryker Brigade is the cutting edge of Army Transformation. Authors Brown and Dedrick, former Stryker brigade commander and Brigade command sergeant major, respectively, portray the Stryker brigades' successes and strengths. Author Toomey provides an update on the Stryker's C4ISR systems.

I REMEMBER standing on a hill at the National Training Center watching digitally-equipped fighting units become significantly delayed at the breach point of an opposing force (OPFOR) obstacle. Others around me were surprised: "How could they get delayed? They have excellent situational awareness and the latest equipment?" In truth, they did have new equipment, but they lacked the time needed to develop the nonmateriel or human dimensions of change they needed for success.

As the Army rapidly goes through the Army Transformation process, the majority of effort has been concentrated on equipment and materiel in the conversion to an Interim Force. While successfully fielding thousands of pieces of new equipment is important, the nonmateriel changes in doctrine; training methodologies; leader and soldier development; and institutional adaptation are equally essential and much tougher to change. That materiel changes will only get the Army so far is obvious. However, human dimensions of change can lead to a complete Transformation and a truly agile, adaptive force ready to fight and win in any conflict. For the Stryker Force to address the critical nonmateriel aspects of Transformation is essential to preparing successfully for operations across the full spectrum of conflict and to enable the Objective Force to be successful in the future.

The world has changed, and the U.S. Army is transforming just in time. Gone are the days of a predictable enemy who will allow U.S. intelligence personnel to distribute a common template of threat doctrine. The Army now faces an incredible variety of potential threats. The enemy has become more adaptive and capable of exploiting any weakness they find. Several aspects of the contemporary operating environment (COE) challenge the Army to adapt to meet the threat adequately.

Technology is readily available to adversaries, and they will use it to exploit weaknesses. The immense variety of environments in which the Army could find itself requires a flexible force prepared to respond to incidents within America as well as operations in remote countries. The overwhelming certainty in any COE is that soldiers and leaders must possess incredible flexibility with which to respond to any threat.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of transitioning effectively to the future is to realize the need for change. Current methods have been successful, so why change now? Just as force structure must adapt to keep up with the rapidly changing world, the human dimensions of change must also adapt. The threat is adapting, so the Army must also adapt or face an enemy who is one step ahead. Of course, the Army should not abandon successful methods that have led to success. Rather, it must build on fundamentals and continue to improve. As U.S. Army General Gordon R. Sullivan has said, "The Interim force is the catalyst for the nonmateriel aspects of change-doctrine, training methodologies, leader and soldier development, and organizational adaptation. Addressing these human dimensions of change is setting the conditions for a faster transition to the Objective Force."1

The Agile Training Mindset

The U.S. Army is the best army in the world when it comes to conducting tough, demanding, realistic training. The Army's tactical, technical, and physical aspects of training the force are absolutely superb and the envy of nations worldwide. The ability to be self-critical, analytical, and to focus on critical lessons during after-action reviews has led to having highly trained soldiers throughout the Army. The Army must sustain this critical process.

To succeed in the future, however, the Army must build on a solid training mindset and develop soldiers' agility and adaptability by focusing on training events that require creative solutions and an ability to focus and concentrate on the important points at hand. …

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