Strategic Leadership: Perspectives on Participating on the Army’s Ongoing Development Leadership Team during the Army’s Vital Training Revolution
Article by A170 Tom Rozman
From our education and experience we learn and determine that “leadership” is at once intuitive in a certain sense but a quality that is always developing in each of us who practice. We learn that some appear in more apparent ways as leaders and yet fail under certain circumstances. Others, less obvious as leaders on first observation, harbor latent leadership abilities that emerge with telling effect in times of great stress.
It is an almost instinctive sensing we have that a group or enterprise we are part of is or is not able to establish effective momentum toward closer in objectives or further out goals. We sense that “leadership” in some necessary form is not present when the organization appears to be static in its activity or even adrift, its purpose unclear.
We also determine in our sensing, that as earlier noted, leadership comes in obvious and less apparent forms. In the “obvious” form there is the infantry leader that when their squad or platoon becomes rooted to the ground from fear and trepidation in an assault, personally takes charge, rises and moves forward with a “follow me” that breaks the spell. Or we have the “by position leader,” an assigned squad leader or platoon commander, that exhibits over time the better traits of leadership, properly assuming the duties and following through.
But we also learn that leadership is in constant development and evolution in individuals. It may appear as needed when confronted by a developing situation from an unexpected source.
It may sometimes take form in ways that are not in support of our mission, such as an informal leader in a group whose leadership directs others on the team away from supporting the collective mission. This may prove a form of negative leadership that cannot be tolerated if a unit is to be effective.
Leadership needs and forms adapt and adjust depending on type organization, level of organization and the changing nature of the mission. While certain base principles transcend the levels such as “leading by example,” other principles may not. A leader that is operating at a level where “demonstrated knowledge of operations” may have value but the leader is too much “into the weeds” and fails to delegate tactical oversight to subordinate leaders when a more strategic or visionary leadership capability is needed, is an example. The latter situation, a failure of leadership, may have “strategic” failure implications for the organization.
One such window on effective strategic individual leaders and collective team leadership over a long period of Army training development was what might be termed the U.S. Army’s “training revolution” of the mid-1970s to early 1990s, work that remains ongoing. It is a representation of applied leadership with strategic results.
This comment does not imply that Army training and training practices of the past were in error or ineffective. From the Army’s inception during the Revolution, training and effective trainers have had a steady positive impact, tactically, operationally and strategically. General von Steuben’s work to retrain the Continental Army during the Revolution represents a significant example.
And there were others in the early North American military leadership experience, even back to the period of the Seven Years War, such as then Lieutenant Colonel Henry Bouquet, 60th Foot. Colonel Bouquet comprehended the leverage value of effective training against tactical and operational effectiveness. Colonel, later General Bouquet perceived the value of tailored training and leadership to address the unique conditions of irregular warfare in North America.
Colonel Bouquet followed through on employing such training and leadership. His application as a leader of effective training against operational conditions in North America’s woodland warfare of the period bore fruit at the Battle of Bushy Run. His command defeated an attacking French allied Amerindian force when earlier British field forces had suffered decisive defeats at the hands of such forces.
The following vignette examines a window on a critical juncture of individual and collective leadership in the U.S. Army’s training system journey and its strategic impact. It is a comment to the training revolution that followed the achievements and milestones in training the Army experienced in the Mexican, Civil, two World, Korean, and Vietnam Wars.
At a critical point in the trajectory of the Army’s training system, that system became an ever more strategic, operational and tactical force multiplier as Army leadership addressed several emerging and increasingly resource consumptive trends that threatened to make force training prohibitively expensive. The latter possibility in any form would have deadly consequences if not mitigated. The period examined is the 1976-1992 window of Army training development that attacked the emerging issue.
The referenced period found the U.S. in an apparent and sustained substantial “force readiness for active operations” need environment. In a word, the force could not fully demobilize even if the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union ceased to exist as a power. The geopolitical situation would not allow the Army to divest itself of a requirement for at least a portion of the force having a rapid “go to war” capability. Even under severely reduced fiscal support, the Army had to be able to quickly field force levels that were sufficient to meet possible emerging contingencies.
At the same time, political, economic and fiscal situations and realities were increasingly curtailing necessary resources. Effective training of individuals and collective organizations on mission essential tasks skills was degrading. This was particularly the case for those tasks and skills that could only be developed and sustained through actual performance of the tasks on the operational equipment and in the environment where the tasks had to be performed, such as large tracts of terrain for example.
The new generation of modernized equipment was, in petroleum products and spare parts and ever more expensive training munitions as categories of consumption type training resources, pricing the Army out of the training business. If alternatives and improved methodologies were not developed and employed to train and sustain critical individual and collective task skills at every level of the force, the force would deteriorate rapidly in its go to war capabilities. Lives would be lost and policy would fail.
Additionally, with a smaller active force every element of the organized and equipped reserve was critical toward meeting any force deployment needs in future. These needs would have to be met in compressed time frames. If nothing was done to put a training system in place that could meet the need within budget, vital mission training would likely cease. In a scenario where the reserves would be critical to force generation for an emergency or worse, the reserves particularly, would need sustained training capabilities that innovatively leveraged the limited time available during periods of non-mobilization to maintain formation readiness.
The following vignette examines some of the leaders and leadership that essentially revolutionized the Army’s training system during the period. It is to be noted that those mentioned are only in a sense representative of a very large team of leaders at every level of the force who conceived, developed and implemented the training revolution.
It will be noted that they built on what their predecessors had done, in many cases their grandfathers, fathers and uncles. But significantly they innovated using emerging technological capabilities. Not least of these were the ever-enhancing capabilities of micro-circuitry and high speed computing. These technologies resulted, thanks to an almost endless stream of parallel developments, in ever more powerful sensing, simulation and virtual environments capabilities for training application.
Through these emerging technology’s provided capabilities, critical battle tasks could be trained. Increasingly these tasks could not be replicated with actual equipment and ammunition in a live training mode due to the rising costs of petroleum products, spare parts and training ammunition. Smaller budgets doomed traditional training, But, thanks to the developing technology, training was becoming possible through increasingly realistic virtual environments. These emerging virtual training environments reduced the costs of mission essential task training to the electricity used to power the simulators.
The following vignette uses a representation of leaders during the period who played critical roles in orchestrating the work of leading an ever more strategic enhancement of the U.S. Army’s training systems during this period of great technological change. It was a period that embraced innovation to the training system with the previously noted strategic effect. Again, there were many others who played direct and supporting roles in this work that were critical contributors.
To note, these are also the several leaders interfaced with by the author during the author’s period of work on these developing training systems and capabilities.
The U. S Army took its training system development work to a new level when it brought together a large collection of residual World War II and post war training oriented organizations. These included the Army’s several training centers and much of its schools establishment, i.e., the combat, combat support and combat service support branch schools. As well, new organizations and teams were formed to meet needs not being met in the business of training developments. These included the offices and organizations performing training development and logistical support of training such as training munitions.
The new command was designated as the U. S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. Its first commander was General William E. DePuy. General DePuy was a pre-World War II national guardsman and squad leader who obtained his commission from the South Dakota State University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps Program in 1941. He majored in economics at the university.
He distinguished himself in combat as an infantry leader rising from lieutenant to lieutenant colonel and command of a battalion in combat and served as an infantry division operations officer during World War II. He enjoyed a following career commanding again at battalion and battle group level in Germany and an infantry division in Vietnam. His work to fashion the new TRADOC organization and the initiatives he led would make a huge and continuing contribution to the revolution in Army training.
Over the period of his and his team’s leadership the Army began work on the integration of laser, sensing and ever increasing computing technologies and their capabilities that led by the 1980s to MILES (Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System), UCOFT (Unit Conduct of Fire Trainer), SIMNET (Simulation Networking) and the NTCs (National Training Centers). This was an unprecedented and powerful leap in the training resource system of systems. In a skilled harnessing of existing training resource systems and the capabilities of the new systems a quantum leap forward occurred in unit ability to focus training an assure mission task competence. The Army dramatically advanced its ability to focus training on mission essential individual and collective tasks within smaller budgets with telling effect.
Additionally during this period the Army leadership team refined the tools to assess collective readiness to perform mission skills. Through the development and fielding of such vehicles as the ARTEP (Army Training Evaluation Program) unit readiness continuously improved.
General DePuy’s leadership and vision as TRADOC formed and moved forward in its mission to enhance the Army’s mission training capabilities would prove crucial. In a very short period of time from TRADOC’s formation, less than two decades, the Army would demonstrate the powerful effects of the training revolution he led. It would deploy for the first Gulf War.
Another important member of the senior training development leadership team was General Paul Gorman. Two key junctures in his leadership illustrate his huge contributions during the training revolution.
One of these was his work as a brigadier general in advancing the development of the MILES prototype system against an ultimate employment of the system at the NTC. Another would be as a major general commanding the 8th Mechanized Division in Germany when he innovated with a new training resources office in his division’s headquarters G-3 (Plans , Operations and Training Section).
This latter effort pulled together all training resources available to the division into a more cohesive training resource system. The initiative assured that all available training resources were focused against optimum concepts of application and use. It leveraged the resources to achieve the highest mission readiness levels possible.
This treating of the training resources base essentially as a combat multiplier against the NATO GDP (General Defense Position) missions assigned to U.S. Army Europe of the 8th Division proved highly successful. The approach was so successful that other division commanders like then Major General Crosbie Saint would replicate the initiative in 1st Armored Division with similar success.
General Saint would go a step further by bringing a prototype C2 (Command and control) virtual simulation training capability to 1st Armored Division. It would be available to other 7th Army C2 elements in USAREUR (U.S. Army Europe).
In a deal with his successor as the deputy commandant at the Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, then Brigadier General David Maddox, a prototype interactive simulation C2 training system which was being replaced at the Staff College by a more refined objective system was transferred to the 1st Armored Divisions Training Resource office in Ansbach, Germany. The resource became a mainstay for upgrading individual and collective C2 skills of tactical headquarters across USAREUR
Another key development in the Army’s “training revolution” journey was the initiation by then Chief of Staff of the Army, General Carl Vuono, of an initiative that became the Army’s Combined Arms Training Strategy (CATS). General Vuono understood that despite the huge advances made in the training resource base, in an ever more constrained fiscal environment, those resources were not being optimized by commanders.
Among other challenges that remained, there were elements of the force that were still unsupported with adequate training resourcing and strategies and the capabilities that had been developed were not being optimized by all commanders in their training programs. General Vuono articulated the need he envisioned and assigned TRADOC the mission to develop a strategy that would be a practical system, useful to commanders, that would optimize use of the training resource base in the ever more constrained fiscal environments being confronted.
His successor as Chief of Staff, General Dennis Reimer, would continue the initiative. Against some resistance from some elements of the Army team, General Reimer would ultimately make the decision to sign CATS into Army policy.
The farsighted leadership of both officers to include the commanders of TRADOC though the period of CATS’ development led to the system made an Army program in 1991. That system remained in support of the Army’s training until recently. And notably, CATS built on the expanding array of training resource innovations that had been coming on line under previous leadership since the middle 1970s.
It must be noted that prior to General Reimer’s final decision and signing of CATS into Army policy the executive committee of the then active Army four star generals was briefed on CATS in the Pentagon for discussion, comment and final acceptance. This executive buy-in assured acceptance of CATS across the Army. Army senior leadership was fully engaged in the decision.
General David Maddox, in addition to his role in cooperating with then Major General Saint in the successful introduction of a powerful C2 training resource to USAREUR would continue his important leadership and support of the “training revolution’s” initiatives. He would oversee their development and application in his following command career to include commander in Europe. He too would contribute many innovative improvements to the Army’s training system.
One of the previously mentioned critical and powerful training resources brought on line during this period was the NTC at Ft. Irwin, California and its sister centers, these initially established at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, Ft. Polk, Louisiana and Hohenfels, Germany. An exemplar of the leaders that worked this part of the training revolution was then Brigadier General Wesley Clark when commander of the NTC.
His and his team’s leadership greatly refined the application and power of this training resource. Their work quantumly enhanced individual and collective mission essential skills training in the Army’s Continental United States based heavy force battalions and brigades. The resource also played a significant role in National Guard unit mobilization readiness work in the first and second Gulf Wars. It continues as a high value training resource today.
But it must be emphasized as earlier noted that this work of some two plus decades that bore significant fruit in the battle worthy force deployed in the first Gulf War and the opening phases of the second war with Iraq and the war with Afghanistan had many leaders. Some of them played initial critical roles and some that significantly reentered the development work at different times.
One such was then lieutenant colonel promotable John Sylvester. As Director of the Joint, Combined Unit Training Directorate, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Training, U. S. Army Training and Doctrine Command he would receive Chief of Staff Vuono’s tasker to develop what would become CATS
When Chief of Staff Vuono indicated his initial intention and assigned TRADOC the mission to develop the early concept into a reality, Colonel Sylvester took the initiative to form an office, the Concepts and Strategies Division, to initiate the TRADOC development effort and give it an initial impetus.
He knew it would be a challenging and extended effort to achieve success and gave it the right start. Too early after this initial launch he was activated in command of 2nd Brigade, 2nd Armored Division at Ft. Hood , a brigade he would soon be leading in combat in Kuwait. He would subsequently return to TRADOC and aspects of the training development effort as a lieutenant general.
Clearly the massive leadership effort of several decades of the Army’s training revolution described in this vignette was a top to bottom leadership team effort. It was by most accounts and results tremendously successful.
But there were aspects that did not work as well as they might and there was resistance by some on the leadership team. There were certainly some who did not share the larger developing vision or fully comprehend the power of the training systems emerging if properly applied and optimized.
But the collective leadership that prevailed saw the possibilities. They led the way to developing them and integrating them effectively into the force. The proof of the effect of their leadership in this critical development work was demonstrated in the crucible of the following several wars. The force that resulted was perhaps one of the most effective and deadly forces fielded by any army in history.
Note: the author had several front row seats over an 18 year span working with or interfacing with all of the specifically mentioned officers and many other significant contributors. In the author’s experience all were critical and vital to the continued development and advancement of the training revolution the Army experienced. In many ways, these leaders were unique in understanding the combat multiplier effect of an optimally developed training resource capability and skill in using it by troops and commanders. Their work in the resulting competence of soldiers and units later deployed in combat likely saved thousands of lives and prevented thousands of other casualties. They deserve to be remembered for this vital work and leadership. In a sense the award citation below is a testament and recognition of the results of their leadership and its affect distributed to one of the members of the development team.