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A reflection on educating Army officers in force management

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The college  in-briefed the new Commander yesterday; From the dialogue emerged his 4 priorities

1.  Leader Development (sub-bullets below are not all-inclusive)
– Develop and implement ILE 2010
– Identify ILE and captains career course backlog issues related to ARFORGEN

2.  Mission Command Center of Excellence
(We emphasized LD&E’s contribution of manpower toward this effort: two colonels to lead along with a force management SME.)

3.  Training
(The DC showed BCTP support as LD&E’s main effort ISO this priority.)

4.  Doctrine
(Weshowed our support to writing teams for FM 3-0 and FM 5-0, doctrinal reviews, and curriculum updates IAW doctrinal changes as LD&E’s main efforts ISO this priority.)

From our departmental discussion emerging the following insight, to which I respond below

Seems to me the leader development sub-bullets include the three principal prongs (these are the main efforts right out of the ALDS [ ed.:  Army Leader Development Strategy], Nov 09):
The effect of complexity and time.
The effect of decentralization.
The need to frame ill‐structured problems.

If we begin to reorient our approach to curriculum design and delivery (particularly for F100), these desires have somewhat radical implications.  I would argue we do not model these (at least in our approach to the core course).  If we were to juxtapose these with “opposing poles” I would argue we tend to be focused on the wrong end (left side):Would like to engage in counterpoints/other arguments–in other words what are your thoughts?

simplicity <———complicatedness———–> complexity
well-structured problems (tame or tamed)<——–craftwork———>ill-structured (wicked) (the need for DESIGN)

“Houston, we have a problem!”

I think there’d be a good article and an F100 reading in treating the 3 prongs as lines of operation intersecting the “tenets of force management” as centers of gravity (using the metaphor of the construct for stability operations)

It’s abundantly clear that the “world of threats” as we have chosen to define the characteristics of the threat, and the chosen roles & missions of the Army, have created a dynamic where the threat is inside our OODA loop of adaptability. When you read Boyd’s description of what happens to the enemy when we are inside his OODA loop, you will recognize the symptoms immediately as a good description of our operating force and the processes being used to generate and sustain it.

The “routine processes” of force mgt: the technocratic emphasis on planning, control, budgeting and precise forecasting (ie PPBE), are dis-integrating and causing the dis-integration of the force to the point where, last week, at the FORSCOM quarterly Reset Synch, at the council of colonels, after 3 days of intense efforts to synchronize the next batch of BCTs in the cycle (they have given up right now on trying to centrally synchronize anything lower than a BCT), the O6s around the table looked at each other and could only ask: what are we trying to do here?, to what standard? for what purpose? and how could we (not even “should we”) define success. The meeting ended with more loose ends in the tapestry than it began, but there was a hint of growing appreciation for design thinking.

I made the same points in that session that Chris makes below: and that is that FM is a wicked problem, and that they were colonels and organizations trying to perform design, and they didn’t know it; they were locked into a planning paradigm that sought a near-perfect solution to the de-synch problem of force generation; that tentative solutions come from both above and below; that information needs to flow in all directions, to be used as evidence to support inquiry, and not stove-piped; that the “common operating picture” is not very common, and is not very operational.

There is an implication of incompleteness as a necessary part of any Design, which respects the dynamism of the world and which commits us to an ongoing process of inquiry, to develop a tentative appreciation for the situation and its context, leading perhaps towards understanding, and an intellectual humility.

I invite the F100 team (and interested others) to identify the overarching “tenets of force mgt” so that we can get a fresh top down look at how the the 3 lines of intellectual operation below intersect, in order to see what emerges that’s applicable to

One example: An FM system should carefully manage money as a resource, in order to be good stewards. This leads, under a technocratic control mindset, to completely plan and program every dollar based on a centralized, far-sighted forecast where precision is the goal. In a dynamic world with an adaptive enemy, we are constantly having to find the least painful bucket of money to “re-program” against the newest high priority, unforecasted threat. The magnitude of this problem can be measured on a time series chart of ONS submitted from the theater for urgent requirements that are not available in the Army inventory. The re-programming induces turbulence in existing programs, and is the most costly way to fund immediate solutions to new requirements using the “Pick 2: Cheap, Fast, Good” model. So, the current model and mindset can be shown to be self-inflicted foot-shooting system

The 3 prong analysis:
1. The effect of complexity & time?: destabilizes the current “machine”, making it produce things that aren’t: cheap, fast, good. It produces things slowly, that are costly, and not very good. (I accept your criticism that says our equipment is better than “not very good”)

2. The effect of decentralization?: requires a reversal of the trend to centralizing to DA which is shown to be unsustainable (the downsizing of Corps, and installation and MACOM staff as intermediate management HQs; the implementation of CENDOC; centralization of budget mgt…etc). The Army’s response: Lean Six Sigma and the “Core Enterprise” approach can be seen as a way to do even MORE centralization, yet there is an acknowledgement growing for the need to move more routine mgt functions of Force Generation (ARFORGEN) to the MACOMS (HRC, FORSCOM, AMC, TRADOC, IMCOM). This has 4 star attention and is a high priority at DA and MACOM staff levels. The FORSCOM quarterly Training Synchronization Resource Conference (TSRC) and the Reset Synchronization Resource Conference (RSRC) are part of this effort to “de-centralize”

3. The need to frame ill-structured problems?: the emergence of Design thinking in our capstone manuals, and the draft AR 525 (ARFORGEN) now in the comment phase of staffing of the initial draft, and the corresponding development of a FORSCOM pub 525 to formalize synch processes in the generating force, and the development of the ARFORGEN Synchronization Tool (AST) (a web based COP for REST coming to a computer near you this summer) are all evidence of efforts to move the force generation wicked problem towards “semi-structure”

As an educating group, we are presented with a continuing design challenge in F100 (and beyond!) to satisfy these competing questions for our constituents:
1. How is the Army SUPPOSED run?
2. How DOES it run?
3. How is it’s running process EVOLVING?
4. How COULD it run better?
5. How SHOULD it run?

These are related, yet not identical: I suggest that we are engaged in a continuous design process to get the mix right in studying these questions.

One of the principles of design thinking, and of inquiry, is to make sure you are studying the very best set of questions; even more important than the provisional conclusions you discover along the way

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