Gen. Robert Cone, commanding general of Training and Doctrine Command, continued the push for smaller, better and simpler equipment, and urged industry to go to a familiar "iPad approach" that would be an expeditionary and scalable plug-and-play architecture, on Wednesday at the AUSA winter symposium in Fort Lauderdale. (File / Army)
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — At least 20 percent of the chairs were empty when Gen. Robert Cone, commanding general of Training and Doctrine Command, kicked off the AUSA winter symposium in Fort Lauderdale this morning. There also was a notable absence of uniformed soldiers.
AUSA president retired Gen. Gordon Sullivan, in welcoming foreign militaries, noted "there are more of them than there are of us."
Cone addressed "The Transition to an Army of Preparation." His presentation did not address the fiscal uncertainty with which the Army is wrestling. The four-star mentioned the budget only once, and that was to warn that cutbacks will have "a very serious, negative impact on retention."
But the cutbacks are more severe than that. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno last week said soldiers may see Afghanistan tours extended next year because budget cuts will drastically limit training for brigades to replace them.
Roughly 80 percent of combat forces also will have significant cuts to training. Cone alluded to this with an upbeat assertion that the unspoken lack of training funds would provided the Army a chance to reassert the role of the unit commander in training with a focus on leadership skills.
Cone echoed much of the emphasis espoused by leadership over the past year: Strategic and operational adaptation, full spectrum ops, hybrid strategies and the need to "prevent, shape and win." He also asserted the need to shift to near- and long-term investments, and pointed out that investment in research, development, Test and evaluation had dropped from .715 percent of the budget in the mid-90s to .024 percent in the past decade.
He continued the push for smaller, better and simpler equipment, and urged industry to go to a familiar "iPad approach" that would be an expeditionary and scalable plug-and-play architecture.
Network defense remains a priority. Cone continued the call for cloud-enabled mission command on the move. This is anchored by mobile protected fire power and enhanced reconnaissance — a primary goal of the Maneuver Center of Excellence in the coming years.
Cone also said the Army has identified 23 deficiencies in the delivery of troops to the fight, but did not offer specifics. Airfields and ports are increasingly hostile and defended. Fewer than one-third of Air Force crews are airborne qualified. The most recent Unified Quest exercise also determined the Army will need more watercraft and Joint Logistics Over the Shore capabilities.