Chiarelli sees NCOs and enlisted soldiers continuing to be empowered with critical decisions on the battlefield 

The Army vice chief said the pyramid of information flow in combat operations has shifted so that NCOs and other enlisted soldiers are relied on to make the “game-changing decisions.”

Speaking Wednesday at the Association of the United States Army’s Winter Meeting and Exposition in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Gen. Peter Chiarelli said the speed of information flow has meant that soldiers on the ground are obtaining more information than in past wars. The fight no longer takes place on the traditional battlefield because the enemies have benefited the most from the cell phone where they can transfer information – including pictures and video – in a matter of seconds.

It’s critical for soldiers to continue to be empowered this way in future operations, Chiarelli said. However, it will be impossible to train them for every single scenario they might face because “we can’t predict exactly what will happen in the future.” It’s more important for them to be “proficient at proficiency,” and produce and reward soldiers who are adaptive and can employ technology in a changing environment.

Training scenarios should replicate the complexity of the operational environment, and soldiers should prepare for managing and analyzing data before making decisions.

Responding to a question from the audience, Chiarelli was optimistic that the Army will be in good shape even if the budget is reduced. Last year, $29 billion of efficiencies were re-invested into new systems or improving systems that just came online. The result was a “more robust portfolio that will serve the Army well.”

However, he said it’s critical for soldiers to get down to the rotational cycle of one-to-three – either nine months deployed and 27 at home or 12 deployed and 36 at home. The force must be “balanced and the right size we need.”