ORLANDO, Fla. — When the U.S. Army first needed to figure out how to make its AirLand Battle concept operational to focus more on the central plains of Europe and the threat from the Soviet Union after the Vietnam War, it used training to drive the combined-arms maneuver concept into the service, according to Gen. David Perkins, the commander of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command.
And now the Army is poised to use training again to bring its new Multi-Domain battle concept to life.
But the service’s approach, Perkins said at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference on Tuesday, must be different from what it did post-Vietnam when the Army stood up exquisite combat training centers, beginning first with the National Training Center in California, which used top-of-the line equipment and instrumentation and duplicated a world-class opposing force.
Combat Training Center rotations are expensive and have high overhead, Perkins said, and training at such a level only occurred every two years for a brigade.
While setting up the CTCs was a training revolution, Perkins said, the next training revolution “is not necessarily more of just one sort of golden, gilded training event, but it is taking a level of fidelity and experience of training it and bringing it back to an everyday home station training.”
As a result of CTC training, “we sort of tried to replicate that sometimes at home stations, and it would be what I call … the tyranny of training because the overhead of training became so large,” Perkins said. “Unless you could do it to that scale, you wouldn’t do any of it.”
Perkins stressed such training wouldn’t replace large-scale training events “because there are things that can only happen out there,” but training more at home station using live, virtual, constructive training and synthetic training as well as 10,000 hours of repetition at a “much lower level” get soldiers ready for larger events at a “much higher level.”
The Army is also going to have to embark on a new training strategy that takes into account the complexity of the world and the future battlefield, which is driving the Army’s Multi-Domain Battle concept.
“We are saying you can’t just train in one domain and, actually, even just two domains is not adequate ― we have to bring together all of the domains,” Perkins said. “So now you have to have a training environment that brings together space, cyber, maritime, land and air, and it’s got to be done again at a level of repetition that would build muscle memory over experience and experience and experience.”
Training has occasionally been broken down into silos and centers of excellence, Perkins noted, “so you’d have to synchronize federated training capability, so you are spending a lot of time synchronizing training that occurred in a federated manner.”
Training across all domains has to be brought together early on, he added.
For instance, the Army shouldn’t just train cyber warriors how to operate from the cyber domain, Perkins said. The service should also “simultaneously train maneuver folks, infantry, armor or in the air domain and maritime domain that they need to take into account the effects that occur in cyber.”
Training also needs to be seen “as a tool, not a task,” Perkins said. Citing his own experience, he said too many training aids, simulations and devices were put into training strategies even if they weren’t all that effective. Soldiers had to use the tools because it was part of the requirements laid out in the strategy.
Perkins said he wants commanders to look at training tools and wants to use them because they actually solve training problems.
Training tools also can’t just exist for training’s sake, he added. “It’s a tool I can use to train for a specific mission, mission rehearsal exercises. … I look immediately at what training capability I have to get ready for that mission. It’s not a task, it’s a tool that I use to get better.”
Addressing I/ITSEC participants, Perkins said the Army and joint forces have brought forth “about as challenging an environment that we could present you with because of the complexity, because of the lethality, because of the changing nature of it, because of the ambiguity of it, because of the scale of it, but it’s also one where your efforts produce great results and they actually save lives.”
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.