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TRADOC Senior Leaders Conference Discuss issues from the TSLC.

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Old 08-19-2009   #1
SWJED
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Default General Dempsey's Key-Note (Quicklook Notes)

General Martin Dempsey, CG TRADOC, kicked-off the TRADOC Senior Leaders Conference this morning. Major themes:
  • We shouldn’t be “comfortable” here at the SLC, our business is not one of comfort in addressing the way things are and where we are going.
  • Change is a recurring theme within the Army and TRADOC, we have to balance our needs in two theaters and at home. We will know more about how some of this change will impact TRADOC once General McChrystal’s Afghanistan strategy is formulated.
  • Changes you will see before the next SLC (6 months) include elections in Iraq and Afghanistan – those elections will fundamentally change how we address those two missions.
  • We will have a single requirements process not two. (Single METL for a full spectrum force)
  • Wiki for TTP recommendations – if we can’t trust ourselves… Looking further at Wiki and Flickr capabilities.
  • We can’t build a “perfect” Army, but if we build one that is good enough we can adapt it.
  • Everyone says how important the human dimension is but the problem is everyone has a different idea what the “human dimension” is. TRADOC is going to work this threw the wickets and come up with a single coherent concept on human dimension.
  • NCO’s will be in charge of their own professional education / development program.
  • We will redesign the Army every five years, not thinking in terms of 25 years. We might not get there but we need to try.
  • Organizational design – we need to focus on incremental change not leap ahead – we shouldn’t be thinking in terms of leap ahead.
  • Outcomes based training and education.
  • Era of transparency.
  • Change and pace of change – make yourself uncomfortable.
  • Distance learning was 10 years ago – we need to adapt to mobile training.
  • On the temporary Army increase in manpower – we intend to make “MOS's more preciesely aligned with ARFORGEN”.

Bumper sticker for the SLC – The Military Power of Our Nation Will be Measured by Our Ability to Adapt.
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Old 08-19-2009   #2
Schmedlap
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Can any of these leaders at the TRADOC conference think of some bold and innovative change made (or permitted) at the company/battery/troop level or below?

I just read an old SWJ article, COIN Perspectives From On Point: Lessons Learned in Iraq by Sergeant Michael Hanson. He points out...
Quote:
"Many enlisted Marines and NCO's will agree that the Marine Corps gives a lot of lip service to small unit leadership and initiative but in the reality of operations we keep these small unit leaders on a tight leash."
That goes for the Army, too.

We talk a good game about delegating responsibility, decentralizing decision-making, empowering small unit leaders, and so on. We codify it in our doctrine and claim to practice it. Do we? Are are we still keeping our small unit leaders on a tight leash because we fear casualties and we fear that one or two rogues will do something rash and create a PR disaster?
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Old 08-19-2009   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
We talk a good game about delegating responsibility, decentralizing decision-making, empowering small unit leaders, and so on. We codify it in our doctrine and claim to practice it. Do we? Are are we still keeping our small unit leaders on a tight leash because we fear casualties and we fear that one or two rogues will do something rash and create a PR disaster?
Agreed. What I liked seeing while deployed was that Commanders, in many cases, had no choice but to empower junior leaders; primarily because of troop-to-task requirements, high optempo and unit strength. Additionally, a unit's "studs" tend to emerge on deployment and are inherently given more responsibility. For example, we had the QRF PL go down with an injury and then quickly realized the PSG wasn't up to the task of leading the QRF. In the end, the squad leaders rotated duty as QRF PL, which had it's benefits and downfalls, but overall was a great experience for them. Most importantly, it proved they were totally capable and assured our leadership to empower them with more responsibility, which they did.
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Old 08-19-2009   #4
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I saw occasional bright spots like that, too. But that is something thrust upon the unit. I am curious if there are examples of a Bn Cmdr or CO allowing his small unit leaders to move ahead with a plan of their own making, trusting in their knowledge of the AO and their tactical competence, even if it is risky. The reason that I ask this on this thread is that, in order for an O-3 or O-5 to give the green light for something like that, he too needs to have his leash relaxed a little by his superiors.
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Old 08-19-2009   #5
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Default A way ahead...

Schmedlap and JKM's post are valid. I'll provide one thought on how to make these changes occur.

We teach our leaders how to think not what to think. Every TRADOC school that I attended preached this philosophy, but it was immediately followed with classroom instruction and a checklist on how to do things. Grades were based on the ability of the student to check off every block on the list NOT creative or innovative thought. This gap always seemed like a paradox to me. In some specialized technical schools (Scuba as an example), it is imperative to follow the checklist. When diving, I would rather breath than dream up a new technique on underwater land navigation. Granted, a baseline understanding is required of TLPs, MDMP, etc, but we can create better opportunities for discussion. One way to accomplish this goal is through the use of less structured seminar sessions similar to a graduate school environment. These classes would facilitate more discussion rather than dictation.


v/r

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Old 08-19-2009   #6
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Hi Mike,

That's a really good observation and, in a mad act of synchronicity, that was a major component of Dr. Samet's presentation. She was using a seminar at West Point as the example, but it's there.
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Old 08-19-2009   #7
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In that regard, law school has been quite an eye-opening experience for me. Law schools generally do a good job of imparting a professional education on their students, on the assumption that they are entering a profession. It is nothing like what I experienced in Building Snore. I have not seen a single PowerPoint slide in law school. At Fort Benning, we alternated between a week of PowerPoint, followed by a week in the field conducting the mission exactly as your Platoon Trainers wanted you to conduct it - or else you just got hammered with artillery simulators and did mass casualty exercises for the rest of the patrol.
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