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Perkins gets nod for TRADOC command; Cone to retire

Jan. 15, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Lt. Gen. David Perkins is the Army's pick to lead its Training and Doctrine Command. (AFP/Getty Images)
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Gen. Robert W. Cone, commanding general of TRADOC, is expected to retire in the spring. (Mike Morones/Staff)


Lt. Gen. David Perkins is the Army’s pick to lead its Training and Doctrine Command. He is commanding general of the Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

The TRADOC commander, Gen. Robert Cone, is expected to retire in the spring. So is Lt. Gen. Keith Walker, commander of the Army Capabilities Integration Center.

Perkins’ selection has not been made public, but the Senate confirmed his fourth star on Dec. 20.

After 12 years of war, TRADOC is the responsible for the new battle: Train a depleted Army to operate across the human spectrum — a mission that requires an ability to deploy and fight within a different dynamic. Cone and Walker have brought the “human dimension” to the forefront.

Cone reiterated his oft-repeated declaration that combat is “fundamentally a human clash of wills” Wednesday at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Aviation Symposium, held near the Pentagon. With that understanding, the Army is becoming an expeditionary force in which troops may deploy in small units. Efforts in Africa are an example, where the combatant command has dispatched a few dozen soldiers to a number of hot spots.

Perkins is well positioned to take the baton. He became the 21st CAC commander in November 2011. The center is primarily responsible for leader development — the top priority of the training renovation Cone has designed over the past two years. The CAC also helps develop and integrate Army doctrine.

Still, Perkins is perhaps most known for his sweeping entry into and stance in Baghdad in 2003 when he commanded 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized). Known as the “Thunder Run,” the maneuver earned the career armor officer the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for valor, and his unit was key in stabilizing the city.

The West Point grad has also commanded the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized).

Cone took the TRADOC command in April 2011 after commanding III Corps and Fort Hood, Texas.

He has led the command through a transition into a new dimension of training that focuses on combined arms maneuver, wide-area security — and does so through live, simulated and virtual integration in an era of declining resources.

Special operation forces were added as a core competency during his tenure, and the Army also adopted a seventh war-fighting function called “engagement.” Cone also has led efforts to integrate women in combat jobs. His approach, vastly different from his Marine Corps counterparts, has taken a careful approach in which standards are scientifically identified, then applied to all soldiers.

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