The U.S. Army is at a strategic inflection point. Rapid and unprecedented technological advancements are changing the character of war, demanding aggressive modernization actions to ensure we have overmatch. Threats from across the globe generate a constant demand for soldiers, taxing readiness and increasing operational tempo. Even American society is changing, with younger generations possessing worldviews, workplace expectations and ways of interacting that are incongruent with the way the Army has operated in the past.
All these trends create requirements to maintain readiness, modernize the force and focus on people. The Army must find a way to synchronize those requirements to give the nation what it needs today, while generating the force it must have for the future. These are tough times, but we have weathered tough times throughout our history. The Army will rise to the challenge—we will modernize for the future and maintain readiness for today while taking care of our people.
It is fitting that these challenges come at the 50th anniversary of both the all-volunteer force and the establishment of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) and the U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). There are striking parallels today to that particular time of need 50 years ago that resulted in a wholesale shift in Army structure and operations. Observations of the Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War and resulting Starry Report by Gen. Donn Starry, who commanded TRADOC from 1977 to 1981, drove a need for new technology and a systemic shift away from counterinsurgency. Continued tensions in Europe, the Middle East and Asia necessitated large-scale forward deployment of Army capability, and the residual effects of the Civil Rights Movement, alongside the impacts of Vietnam, challenged Army culture. Modernization, readiness and people—TRADOC was created for exactly that purpose, for exactly what we’re facing today.
I’m proud to say that TRADOC is partnering with the other Army commands, Department of the Army staff and elements across the joint force to help the Army keep its warfighting edge. When I took command in September 2022, we laid out a clear vision for TRADOC:
TRADOC builds and sustains the Army’s foundation by acquiring the best people, training the most lethal soldiers and developing the most professional leaders, as well as providing the connective tissue that helps guide Army culture and helps shape the future force, while putting TRADOC on a sustainable strategic path.
This vision is broad and far-reaching, but so is the command it is synchronizing. The Army’s centers of excellence, the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, the U.S. Army Cadet Command and the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training, each have critical roles in delivering the future force.
Acquire Best People
The Army’s ongoing recruiting challenges are no secret. This is an existential threat for the Army and the all-volunteer force, and senior leaders have identified it as the Army’s top priority.
Over the past 12 to 15 months, TRADOC and the Total Army team have pulled out all the stops to solve this problem. We have increased and tailored our incentives and bonuses, adjusted and streamlined policy and procedures to reduce the time it takes to enlist, and improved the waiver process. We have leveraged the Total Army in a deliberate surge to increase awareness of opportunities (with both potential recruits and their influencers) through coordinated senior leader engagements, support to large-scale events designed to generate awareness of the Army, soldier support to recruiters at local events and the Soldier Referral Program, which provides promotion incentives to soldiers who lead young people to join the service. We have supported and capitalized on the Army’s “Be All You Can Be” brand launch. Finally, we have expanded opportunities for service by investing in youth with a propensity to serve to help them achieve Army standards through the Future Soldier Preparatory Course.
To find lasting solutions to the Army’s recruiting challenges, we will holistically reconsider how the Army executes the accessions mission. TRADOC will operationalize the results of recent study groups through sweeping transformations across the accessions enterprise to generate change and enable long-term success.
This is our bread and butter. The Army’s qualitative advantage over its competitors starts with disciplined, trained and fit soldiers and leaders continuously developed throughout their careers. TRADOC is dedicated to modernizing these programs as an investment in our people through continued assessment and development across the training and education continuum. From Initial Entry Training to the Sergeants Major Academy, and from the Basic Officer Leader Course through the Pre-Command Course, TRADOC is improving the Army’s ability to fight and win large-scale combat operations as part of the joint force through the conduct of multidomain operations.
Guide Army Culture
TRADOC influences every soldier and leader throughout their career. Starting at Basic Combat Training and One-Station Unit Training, TRADOC leaders transform civilians into professional soldiers and create cultures of unit pride, dignity and respect. TRADOC takes this role seriously and seeks to improve the lives of every soldier. A program like Holistic Health and Fitness, the Army’s cohesion assessment teams and overall professional military education provide leaders with the tools they need to build positive command climates and take care of soldiers.
Simultaneously, an increased focus on individual assessments helps leaders see the strengths and weaknesses in themselves and their subordinates while enabling the Army to more effectively select future leaders.
Army culture is one of our strengths, but bad actors can malign and twist that culture into something it isn’t supposed to be. TRADOC helps drive change to make Army culture more ironclad so we train and fight to win wars while maintaining the public’s trust and remaining faithful to soldiers and their families.
Shape Future Force
The creation of the U.S. Army Futures Command separated materiel modernization and concept development from the TRADOC portfolio, allowing the Army to emphasize those vital portions of force modernization. TRADOC continues to shape the future force through its focus on doctrine, organizations, training, leader development and personnel.
Since the October publication of Field Manual 3-0: Operations, which codified Multi-Domain Operations as the Army’s official capstone doctrine, TRADOC has surged to produce complementary doctrine at echelon and across warfighting functions. We also have been updating programs of instruction and training scenarios to reflect modern conditions and our new operational model. These efforts are resulting in improved institutional, home-station and capstone training events.
Since Multi-Domain Operations recognizes large-scale ground combat as a division fight enabled by corps and theater armies, TRADOC is particularly focused on improving echelons above brigade training at the Mission Command Training Program and in conjunction with combat training center rotations.
TRADOC also is dedicated to close cooperation with Futures Command to enable synchronization of Army modernization efforts. While Futures Command is focused on what the future battlefield will look like, how we will fight future conflicts and what kit we need to win those conflicts, modernization is a team sport, and TRADOC is operationalizing those concepts through doctrine, organizational design and developing the people we’ll need to fight.
Call to Action
TRADOC at 50 is as vital today as the day it was created. The challenges TRADOC was created to help solve have reemerged, in a different form, but of the same nature. TRADOC and the Army are ready to face them.
The Total Army team—officers, warrant officers, NCOs, soldiers, Army civilian professionals and veterans from all components—must raise awareness of Army opportunities, meet the youth where they are and increase propensity to serve in the Army.
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Gen. Gary Brito is the 18th commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Previously, he served as the Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel. He also has served in a variety of command and staff assignments, including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and several assignments within TRADOC.