By David Hodne and Joe Byerly
Has the Army lost the art of training management?
Recently, I coauthored an article with Colonel David Hodne answering this question. It was published in the February 2016 issue of Army Magazine. Thanks to the editors, I am able to provide you with an exclusive .pdf copy of the article. Click the link below to download a copy.
The Evolving Art of Training Management
If you have any comments, please provide them in the Comments Section below!
6 thoughts on “The Evolving Art of Training Management”
The Army never got training management right, even in the 90s. Two case studies, one from the Army War College in 2002:
And another commissioned by the Army in June 2001: http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/army/atld-panel/off_report.pdf
Key quote: “Much of the Army, from the most senior levels on down, no longer follows or cannot follow the Army’s training management doctrine. The doctrine, when applied to support mission focus, prioritizes tasks and locks in training far enough out to provide predictability and allocate resources. It acknowledges that units cannot do everything because there are not enough resources, especially time. Today’s Army ignores the training doctrine.”
The Army’s famous laundry list of AR 350-1 tasks is a great example of (often mundane) a multitude of training requirements annotated by HQDA that are so overwhelming it’s impossible to successfully train all of the them ICW unit individual to collective METL focused training. Another perfect example of this also lends itself to identifying Army leadership level risk aversion: for instance -a well known assumption within the Army is that despite the multitude of EO/ SHARP training executed redundantly every yearend often more than that, that many units will scratch or reduce their combat focused training tasks to ensure the perception of full support for the EO/ SHARP program is present, specifically so that when a SHARP/EO incident is brought forth, the CMD Team can provide the alpha roster for their unit to demonstrate that they prioritized this in addition to everything else. It has been my experience, particularly in my last unit (1st SBCT, 1st AD) that when the command philosophy is “we must do EVERYTHING right ALL of the time” nothing is performed well and mediocre results are the natural outcome.
Great article sir. Well written but I have to be honest as a senior Captain and ROTC APMS I have heard Mission command and training management talked “preached to death” and are becoming increasingly numb catch phrases to my peers and myself -granted this may be a reflection of the leadership I served under, since not all units and bosses are created equally. Not because Army leaders don’t believe in them, but because they are ultimately undermined by senior leader (BN CDR/ CSM and above) RISK AVERSION which is a direct result of our overly beauracratic personnel/ “up or out” system that rewards risk aversion in the attainment of promotion. vs a unit being a learning instituton. In addition, based on my experience in the last 10 years the Army has not adequately prioritized “rigorous” leadership development of our junior officers and NCOs and the Army has failed to put it’s money where it’s mouth is in regards to properly resourcing “rigorous” leader development in its TRADOC institutions. In regards to risk aversion – how many commanders do you know who devote / make the time to dedicated tactical/ leadership development of their Platoon Leaders, or more importantly are willing in a training environment with their rater or senior rater watching would deliberately give the decisive operation or a highly visible training event/ mission to their most junior officer/ PL to “develop” him/her at the risk of something being executed poorly from sheer lack of experience but the learning value and experience are immeasurable to that junior officer? This gets at the short term “survival” mode of command vs. the long term “investment” mode of thinking that I believe mission command requires to be effective. On top of this how bout the overlooking of junior officer marginalization by field grade officers and senior NCOs, that we all know takes place. I have witnessed this despicable breach of leadership performed time and time again. I firmly believe the timelines as officers we are under affects mission command dramatically as well: one year of Platoon Leader time (if the officer is lucky), 18 months of command time – really? Whereas NCOs will remain in their positions for up to three years. I know many officers have managed to develop “properly” within that timeline, but the amount of knowledge required to lead/ command continues to increase as technology evolves and complexity of future war grows, especially with the ULO Core competencies of being able to transition rapidly from Decisive Action to Wide Area Security and or executing both simultaneously. I’d recommend adjusting command to the rank of junior Majors as the British Army does and Company XO’s are Captains. Or simply expanding the timelines by a year or two for each.
Scott, thanks for taking the time to read my blog and taking the leap to comment on this post. I will agree with you that our system of personnel management isn’t perfect, however I don’t think it is as dire as you suggest.
Our outlook on the bigger Army is influenced by the micro-level interactions in our units. My experiences at the company and field grade levels have been much more positive than yours. While I’ve encountered quite a few toxic leaders, I’ve also worked with/for Company Commanders, Majors, BN Cdrs, and BCT Commanders who have embodied the principles of mission command. Those units excelled in training, at the NTC, and in combat. As a result, I don’t think our personnel management system needs to be drastically overhauled.
What I’ve learned over the years is that all of us can have a ripple effect on the rest of the Army by our own personal interactions. We each own a piece of the system, and we can choose the path we want to take with it. Your current role as the APMS puts you in the unique position to influence future Army officers. You can teach them the value of self-study, mission command, and making leader development their top priority.
Sir, you are right and I must say I agree with your assessment that ultimately our concept of mission command is largely dependent upon our experiences in the units we served. At the risk of being transparent, a few bad memories from my last unit, combined with some frustrations currently being experienced within Cadet Command stirred up a somewhat passionate response. Mission command observance and execution is ultimately determined/enabled by the Commander, and he or she in my opinion has ultimate ownership for the culture within their own unit.
I have to disagree with some of this article. It starts with the title. The single biggest problem the Army has had that causes diminished capabilities is the connection of management to training. Training is NOT a management problem. The idea fundamentally disconnects leaders from their primary responsibility to “see” what their organization can do. As a management exercise, as long as the training manager has created the plan, outlined the sequence, organized the resources, and scheduled the events – all they have to do is wait for the performance reports to roll in. The training management mentality is what has led to a desire by leaders for “certification”.
Training “management” is about creating the illusion of a trained and ready organization. If the organization has executed X tasks, Y times, at Z levels, and meets “the standard” (which by the way is the MINIMUM level of performance necessary to execute a task), then the unit is presumed to be trained.
I would hope that real commanders are more credible than this seems to appear, and actually do undertake the on-hand observations to assess competence and capabilities. But I fear (and have observed) that too many are comfortable with a management approach to training and assessing readiness.