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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

As the Army adapts to multiple operational environments and a constantly evolving enemy threat, so must our leaders and leadership development. Understanding and having the ability to implement Mission Command, and balancing the art of command with the science of control, is imperative in an ever-changing Army.

To accomplish this effectively, current and future leaders must understand the capabilities, purpose and application of the Army’s digital systems. The ability to communicate plans, battle track and forecast sustainment needs through these systems is expected. The days of dry erase boards may not be over, but their time is fleeting.

Leader Development
Much of the Army’s early leader development is focused on the principles of leadership and learning what characteristics comprise a good leader. The relationship between platoon leader and platoon sergeant, and delineating their respective responsibilities, is a common discussion among junior leaders. Overarching subjects such as this are important and should continue to remain among leader development in the Officer Education System and Noncommissioned Officer Education System.

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Spc. Melissa Pearson, an intelligence analyst, operates a Command Post of the Future console.
(Credit: Spc. Kathleen Embrey)

A missed opportunity for additional development is with digital systems from the Digital Training Management System to the Command Post of the Future. Digital systems training has been integrated into courses such as the Resident Logistics Captains Career Course, but the earlier in their careers that leaders and soldiers are exposed to these systems, the better. It may be challenging to add to or incorporate additional training in the current curriculum for the Basic Officer Leader Course, Warrant Officer Basic Course and Basic Leader Course, but the reward to soldiers would outweigh the costs.

The 1st Infantry Division, specifically the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, has accepted this challenge; the benefits have been immediately noticeable. The brigade has seized the opportunity to send many individuals to the Digital Master Gunner Course at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. The training received was put to the test in a recent command post exercise, where the brigade was able to exercise distributed Mission Command and synchronize staff actions for simulated decisive action aviation operations.

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A trainer helps soldiers at Fort Carson, Colo., navigate digital training systems.
(Credit: U.S. Army/Andrea Sutherland)

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At Fort Gordon, Ga., Sgt. Nirundorn Chiv readies a network.
(Credit: U.S. Army Army National Guard/Sgt. Erica Knight)

While tactical digital systems enable us to implement Mission Command, administrative and training management systems are at the forefront of daily operations, affecting mission readiness. In-depth instruction on the Digital Training Management System and other systems that’s tiered at each level of the officer and NCO education systems would allow leaders to spend more time planning and executing rather than inputting data.

Commander’s Tools
Maj. Gen. Wayne W. Grigsby Jr., commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division, has conveyed to soldiers and leaders that the division’s No. 1 priority is “building and maintaining mission readiness.” To accomplish this seamlessly, company commanders are provided several tools to enable them to effectively manage and track mission readiness.

The Digital Training Management System is the primary tool with which we manage and track training. We also utilize it to manage elements of readiness such as Army physical fitness test records and weapons qualifications. Systems such as the Electronic Profiling System, Medical Protection System, Electronic Military Personnel Office, Commander’s Risk Reduction Dashboard, Unit Commander’s Finance Report and Dental Readiness Classification System are also essential in systematically ensuring that soldiers are mission-ready. From determining financial hardships to preventing high-risk behavior, commanders are charged with understanding how to leverage these systems to provide soldiers every opportunity to succeed and remain deployable.

In addition to mission readiness, myriad systems such as the Force Management System Website, Global Combat Support System-Army and Logistics Support Activity/Logistics Information Warehouse assist commanders with managing property and force structure. A comprehensive plan to incorporate training on each system with the length of time weighted on the most commonly used systems would better posture precommand company grade officers for success. Great opportunities to provide this training in a somewhat time-protected environment are the Company Commander and First Sergeant courses.

Army at Forefront
The Army has always been on the leading edge when it comes to adapting and implementing new techniques. Whether it be with the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention program or the Modern Army Combatives Program, the Army is constantly seeking ways to improve and win. As we continue to acclimate to digital systems, it is imperative that we provide the protected time the officer and NCO education systems allow to become familiarized with the systems in a manner in which we can positively affect the fight.

Albert Einstein said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” The U.S. Army’s ability to adapt and overcome is what makes us the finest military force in the world.