In this thoughtful posting, Dr Jack Kem examines the strategic and conceptual changes in the publication of the new FM 7-0 Training the Force.

here is a highlight: 

Conceptually, the band of excellence was intended to provide a training focus so that there wouldn’t be wide variance in unit proficiency – train on the essential tasks (METL) and keep a high sustained mean of excellence in training so that the unit is always ready.  The intent was also to eliminate “surges” in effort to eliminate the “peaks and valleys” of proficiency – with the additional intent of keeping the “band” tight by minimizing that variance.

The 2008 edition of FM 7-0 does not mention the concept of the “band of excellence.”  ARFORGEN has changed all of that – we have now institutionalized the concept of the surge for our units, getting them ready “just in time” for deployment.  We have institutionalized the “peaks and valleys” with the ARFORGEN three-phased readiness cycle: reset, train/ready, and available.  Because we have the reality of the “patch chart” with too many missions and not enough units, we have a never-ending array of mission sets, focusing at various times on the UJTL, CMETL, and DMETL sets.

It’s no surprise that the Army is stressed – our reality is that we have units that train up quickly, deploy, tear down, and then build back up based on the deployment cycles.  The new edition of FM 7-0 provides some guidance on how to manage this situation, but the reality is that we have created a “just in time” Army that does a great job in spite of the stresses of the deployments.

my thoughts:

Dr Jack identified the 2 drivers in the conceptual shift:
1) resource constraint given current level of “desire to engage”

2) unpredictable mission sets

regarding driver 1, we can ask: is the appetite to engage internationally reasonably appropriate and we are underresourced for that level of reasonable level of activity, or are we reasonably resourced but our appetite is too large? It’s another way of asking: What does our current level of overseas activity, at this cost, buying us? and what do we think the curve of return on activity looks like?  A skeptic of the current cost/benefit formulation might say we are already spending more than the next 24 countries combined, remain vulnerable and have strategically compromised the conventional  force which increases the probability of confrontation.

An additional issue here is technological rate of change: the probability that tomorrow someone discoves a revolutionary application of a new technology that invalidates the performance assumptions of our current force is increasing every day. In this kind of scenario, there is an incentive to delay fielding new capabilities until the last reasonable moment to ensure you have the time to find the current best set of tools to accomplish the job, assemble the right sized team, train to the newly developed standard and deploy.  This kind of “1 off” force equipping and packaging looks like what we are doing now; not by design by by necessity.  I ask myself: is there a country out there that can manufacture significant quantities of main battle tanks that we cannot already reason with?And since building that kind of capability and producing, training, rehearsing that force cannot be hidden, isnt that the least likely scenario?

regarding driver 2: has the world changed so much that we can no longer reasonably define a stable set of missions and tasks against which to train to a standard?  if so, we can ask, is this variability in mission sets likely to continue or are we in a new open-ended period of constantly evolving missions sets?  If you believe the latter,then you start looking at reducing the specialization of force structure and converting high cost specialty forces, like HBCTs, into cheaper and more flexible forces.

my sense is this: we are already at or beyond the upper limit of sustainable resourcing levels, especially given the hidden inflation introduced into the economy with over 2T of moeny being printed.  Real buying power will decline even if the budget number goes up. There will be less and less interest in overseas engagement and the idea of spending money on creating a capabilities based force structure aginst a hypothetical enemy, when we are breaking the bank in trying to keep core indutrial competencies afloat. Adventurism is a luxury, and the evidence shows little return on investment.

I conclude we are going to be living with ARFORGEN a long time as currently constructed, and that we need to be examining how to make incremental improvements in efficiency in the production and reconstitution of the force have, while the nation sorts out the international level of engagement we need.



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