Army Must Prepare for ‘Dynamic’ Global Environment

Army Must Prepare for ‘Dynamic’ Global Environment

Gen. Andrew Poppas, commanding general of FORSCOM, speaks at the AUSA Contemporary Military Forum: Reality of War session at the AUSA 2023 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. (Eric Lee for AUSA)
Photo by: Eric Lee for AUSA

Faced with a shifting global security environment that has grown even more uncertain in recent days, the Army is building readiness through the warfighting skills that come with trusting and empowering people, the commander of Army Forces Command said.

On the third and final day of the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2023 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., Gen. Andrew Poppas led a discussion on what it will take to fight and win future wars, having listened in on security forums from Army leaders in the Indo-Pacific, Europe and Africa.

“Just sitting through the last couple of days of engagements here,” he said, “you realize that the world today is much more uncertain, and it is a much more dynamic environment than we have prepared for.”

“We’ve had a lot of discussions about readiness, and that’s one of the key components here, but one of the things comes up is … ready for what? How do you further define that?” Poppas said. “Over the last 20 years of continuous conflict, we’ve had a level of clarity. We no longer have that clarity.”

At Forces Command, Poppas said, four principles for training are aimed at being prepared “for any uncertainty that arrives worldwide, because we’re a global power.”

First, leaders must win trust and empower people, which comes down to the individual, that human dynamic that defines the Army. “It’s building those teams, building the trust, the competence, making sure that it is a cohesive fighting force that has the will to fight together,” Poppas said.

The second principle is that the Army must “win the first fight,” he said, by making sure teams and squads are ready. It also means making sure there is expertise in battalions and brigades as well as divisions and up, so leaders can synchronize warfighting functions to bring the Army’s full capabilities to bear.

“We don’t have weeks, months or years to prepare our formation. It has to be prepared today, right now, when the call comes,” Poppas said.

The Army must also prepare for and win the future fight as a total force, which includes the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve.

Lt. Gen. Sean Bernabe, commander of III Corps and Fort Cavazos, Texas, formerly known as Fort Hood, pointed out that with about 600 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “we’ve all watched the character of war change right before our eyes.”

“We’ve had a chance to really watch and learn to appreciate the challenges of large-scale combat operations in the current environment,” he said during the Oct. 11 forum. “We’ve seen that combined arms maneuver is still a key to success, but we’ve also seen how difficult combined arms maneuver can be.”

— Gina Cavallaro