FORT MONROE, Va.: Secretary of the Army John McHugh visited the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Headquarters for the first time today and got to see Army past, present and future through TRADOC’s eyes.
“It was my inaugural trip to come down here and get a visual, first hand look at all the amazing things that TRADOC is doing,” he said. “Obviously wherever you are in the Army, your doctrine, your schooling, your entire perspective starts somewhere along this path.”
The day’s events included a tour of Fort Monroe, which has roots tracing back to 1609 as Fort Algernourne, built by Capt. John Smith. In 2011, Fort Monroe will close and TRADOC will move to Fort Eustis, Va., under Base Realignment and Closure.
“Fort Monroe itself is a marvelous part of history,” said McHugh. “The Army has future plans in other places, but I would hope that the spirit that’s been here for many, many years will in some way continue. There’s a lot of Army heart and soul here.”
McHugh also met with TRADOC senior leaders and visited the Joint Training Counter-IED Operations Integration Center. JTCOIC was established in April 2009 as a collaborative effort between the Joint IED Defeat Organization and TRADOC and provides training to Soldiers through simulation-based exercises. Creating a common framework, JTCOIC is designed to make “the scrimmage harder than the game.”
“I’m thankful that there are so many smart people in the world who are willing to come and work here,” McHugh said.
“The most important thing is the training opportunity they produce here and the chance for every Soldier of every rank, out in harm’s way, to better understand the lay of the battlefield and the environment which they find themselves, means they’ll be safer. And that’s a good thing and something we want to continue to nurture.”
Along with training Soldiers for the future, TRADOC is also writing doctrine and plans for that identify key elements of the future battlefield. The U.S. Army Capabilities Integration Center released the 2009 Army Capstone Concept titled, “Operational Adaptability: Operating under conditions of uncertainty and complexity in an era of persistent conflict 2016-2028.” The Capstone Concept aims to define the problem of future, armed conflict and describes how the Army will need to function in the future.
“I was reading it again on the way down in the helicopter and it’s a critically important document. And it’s probably a document we have to scramble operationally to catch up to, and that’s the objective,” said McHugh. “[Some] of the most difficult things an army faces [are] the battle today, trying to understand what the battle of tomorrow will be, and positioning yourself to be able to adapt to it and prevail.”
However, McHugh recognizes that the road to achieving the objectives outlined in the Capstone Concept is as important as the ideas themselves.
“The reality is that it’s also complicated by likely budget and resource decisions. We just went through the Quadrennial Defense Review, and part of that is to plot out the next four years, what the challenges are and what the threats will be and this Capstone Concept helps us implement that future-think into real world terms,” he said. “But this is still something, I think the generating force … and the operational force will need to partner up on to make that concept an actual reality.”
Another area interlaced with the Capstone Concept is TRADOC’s role in Army Modernization. McHugh believes that the command in charge of doctrine and leader development will play a critical role in designing Army Modernization.
“It will be a leader,” he said. “We have to be an Army that has congruity and continuity, and how we go about becoming an Army of the future starts right here. This is a place and this is an activity that, seems to me, will become far more important, as important as it is today as we go into an unknown tomorrow.”
McHugh ended his visit by recognizing the TRADOC and JTCOIC staff for their innovation and dedication to Soldiers.
“The other thing that really strikes me, and I don’t mean to sound flippant about it, but the intellectual capital that we have in the Army,” he said.
“And the good folks who are willing to come here and devote themselves to this defensive national effort who value the kinds of things that make an Army Soldier wake up everyday and go to work … that’s the important stuff.”