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Heightening Soldiers’ Battlefield Awareness

Friday, May 13, 2016

In its relentless pursuit to improve soldier awareness on the battlefield, the Army is revamping the way units are configured for long-term field operations, the service’s top strategist says.

One area that reflects the new approach is a concept called “home station as docking station,” said Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center and deputy commander, futures, at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

The Army has built new command posts that can rapidly deploy with only baseline capabilities and then “reach back” as needed to their home stations, where the bulk of the unit’s staff remains in support mode, McMaster said during a recent military strategy forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“If you do that, you can rotate personnel forward but keep the same organization focused on that problem set to build a data set,” which helps stem the knowledge drain that comes with the traditional, high-frequency rotation of soldiers in and out of an operating theater, he said.

“How to develop and sustain a high degree of situational understanding in complex environments against adaptive enemies is our warfighting challenge No. 1,” McMaster said. “We have to do some harder thinking about how we sustain knowledge over time in contingencies.”