In 1963, John F. Kennedy observed, "Change is the
law of life. And those who look only to the past or
present are certain to miss the future." This statement
applies to the Army as much as it does to any
other governmental agency; after a decade of war, it
should be no surprise that the Army is posturing itself,
yet again, for significant adjustments to the force.
The war in Iraq has come to an end, and nearly all
of the equipment retrograded back to Kuwait has been
shipped from the theater or incorporated into prepositioned
stocks. We are also decreasing our force
presence in Afghanistan and beginning the transition
toward a security and assistance mission.
In light of this changing operational environment and
anticipated force reductions, the sustainment community
is now presented with a unique opportunity to
closely evaluate our organizational structure, doctrine,
and training strategy to provide an agile sustainment
force postured to meet future sustainment requirements.
Improving Energy Use and Doctrine
In the past two issues of Army Sustainment, I highlighted two supporting efforts in our strategy to continue “leaning forward” in anticipation of future requirements: Operational Energy and Doctrine 2015.
The operational energy initiative will capitalize on capabilities developed by the industrial sector to reduce our overall energy use. This will extend the operational reach of maneuver force commanders by reducing their overall sustainment requirements and reducing the need to "stockpile" resources within easy reach.
Similarly, the restructuring of our doctrine in accordance with the Army Training and Doctrine Command's Doctrine 2015 initiative will provide flexible publications that we can adapt over time as we continue to learn as an Army.
Two other ongoing programs complement these initiatives as we shape the future sustainment force: the ongoing force design review process and the Army
Learning Model 2015 program.
Restructuring to Meet Future Requirements
The Army of 2020 must be postured to prevent conflict,
shape the environment and, most of all, decisively
and dominantly win our Nation's wars. In order to do
this, we must all take the lessons learned from the past
with the need
to meet the
of the future
as codified in
This operational adaptability must enable us to
respond to not only military actions but also to humanitarian
disasters and security risks as they emerge
throughout the world. In understanding that the Army
of 2020 is going to be a leaner and more agile organization,
we must refine the sustainment force to ensure
that our resources are positioned to provide the greatest
flexibility to the maneuver force commander. As
defined in ADP 3–0, our goal must always be to ensure
freedom of action, extend operational reach, and prolong
In reshaping the force, we must continuously reassess
how we have our forces and our equipment assets
arrayed and at which echelon to best meet the Nation's
defense strategy. For example, the Army's current
tactical wheeled vehicle fleet is out of balance with its
requirements. As the Army wrestles with a reduction
in vehicles, we must do so in an orderly fashion while
ensuring that we have sufficient modernized assets to
meet the distribution requirements in 2020 and beyond.
In addition to ensuring that our modernization strategy
is sound, we will also seek to increase capabilities
by providing organic convoy protection platforms to
many of our formations. Modernizing the fleet while
increasing existing capabilities, and doing so in an era
of diminishing resources, is a tall order, but I have every
confidence that we can accomplish this and more.
As we reshape the force, we also have an opportunity
to align some of our sustainment force structure to minimize the turbulence caused by the over-modularization
of certain capabilities. As we have observed over the
years, our force structure provides tremendous flexibility
but often with the expense of increased turbulence
and friction. For example, the typical sustainment
brigade experiences an average of 14 relief in place/transfer of authority actions a month when deployed.
By aligning some capabilities within our combat
sustainment support battalions and sustainment brigades
and synchronizing their deployment timelines,
we can reduce that turbulence. The alignment of these
units and capabilities will improve mission command
and training and command relationships with supported
organizations, both in garrison and while deployed.
Enhancing Soldier and Leader Skills
As we reshape and build the organizations of the future,
we cannot understate the importance of reassessing
our systems for developing the necessary skills in
our Soldiers and leaders to meet the hybrid threat. The
Army Learning Model (ALM) 2015 has been developed
to meet these challenges and develop our future
ALM 2015 is a student-centric system that will
identify the needs of the individual learner and develop
a career-long learning approach that combines training,
education, experience, and access to increased selfdevelopment
tools. This program, enabled by available
technology such as mobile applications, will help
increase our capacity to learn faster and adapt quickly.
Assess-adapt-learn are the principles that we will use to
guide our efforts in implementing this new program.
Assessments are conducted at the onset of a training cycle as well as throughout the training to help tailor
instruction to the learners' needs and experience and allow Soldiers to test out of instruction they have already
mastered. These ongoing assessments are a key enabler
of the core element of ALM 2015: the ability to adapt
training to the needs of the individual.
Adaptability is truly the central idea of ALM 2015.
The ability to develop realistic, tailored, and continuously
adaptable training to meet the needs of individual
students and small groups is paramount to improving
our educational processes. Gone are the days of "death
by PowerPoint" instruction, replaced by analysis of
complex scenarios designed to enhance teamwork,
adaptability, and critical thinking skills. Instructors
must be able to facilitate discussion in a small-group
setting to maximize the sharing of information and increase
peer-to-peer learning (a hallmark of the experiential
learning model espoused in ALM 2015).
The final principle, learning, is something we all
need to impart to our Soldiers and leaders at every
level. We must all recognize that learning is a continuous
adaptive process, not one that exists only when a
Soldier is sent to the advanced leaders course or captains
career course. Learning must be integrated into
everything Soldiers do at each level of their careers.
By leveraging developmental assignments, civilian
educational opportunities, professional readings, and
distributed learning opportunities for our Soldiers, we
are working to create a self-directed learning capability
that can be integrated into an individual Soldier's personal
professional development plan. This will allow
for the continuous learning environment necessary to
ensure that we maintain the best trained fighting force.
Change is inevitable, more so in the Army of today
than in any other time in the recent past. Living in a
time of change can be challenging. However, change
can also open up tremendous opportunities to reshape
the Army to meet the demands of the future.
As leaders, we have the responsibility to stay abreast
of the latest information to ensure that we meet the
needs of our Soldiers and our Army. By embracing a
learning continuum, tailored to the individual Soldier,
we will continue to become more efficient in everything
we do, from the delivery of needed resources to
sustain our fighting force to how we train our Soldiers
and our leaders.
Major General James L. Hodge is the commanding general of the Army Combined Arms Support Command and Sustainment Center of Excellence at Fort Lee, Virginia.