U.S. Army Training for Unified Land Operations
The United States military has been at war for nearly a decade, waging protracted campaigns against extremist foes in several theaters. These conflicts have clearly emphasized that landpower is an essential element of U.S. national power. The strategic triad of Army, Marine Corps and special operations forces form the nucleus of relevant and accessible operational and strategic strength. The Army, as the backbone of this triad, has maintained between 600,000 and 700,000 Soldiers—active, Guard and Reserve—on active duty in support of national strategic missions at home and abroad. As future conflicts shift into even more challenging and remote locations around the globe, and as the nation’s enemies find ways to mitigate high-tech weaponry, the importance of versatile, flexible and well-trained landpower that can fluidly operate along the entire spectrum of conflict (stable peace to general war) will only increase.
Combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq began as more conventional, kinetic-centric operations—for which the Army had trained throughout the 1980s and 1990s—and included little planning or preparation for post-hostility operations. Those combat missions have since challenged every aspect of Army operations, to include personnel, logistics, doctrine and training. The duration and complexity of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom/ Operation New Dawn in Iraq have taxed the Army as it continues to balance the immediate demands of warfighting with long-term strategic planning and preparedness. As the two primary conflicts transition to conclusions, the Army is recalibrating its training strategy to integrate lessons learned over the past decade and bring back traditional skills that may have atrophied and that are applicable to the entire range of possible contingencies—all in an integrated, holistic manner.