MCoE leaders continue to adjust course syllabuses to meet changing Army objectives
Story by Jess Dupree, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs
Photos by Suhyoon Wood, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Jan. 16, 2018) – Military leadership largely from Fort Benning, Georgia, comprised a panel on training and leader development during the second day of the Maneuver Warfighter Conference at Fort Benning Jan. 10.
The panelists were Col. Robert B. Fouche, director of the Command and Tactics Directorate; Col. Anthony G. Judge, commander of the 199th Infantry Brigade; Col. Kelly D. Kendrick, commander of the 198th Infantry Brigade; Col. Douglas G. Vincent, commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade; Col. Thomas M. Felty, commander of the 316th Cavalry Brigade; Col. Christopher R. Norrie, commander of the Operations Group at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California; and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael J. Ames, commandant of the Henry Caro Noncommissioned Officer Academy.
Each of the panel members leads one or more Maneuver Center of Excellence courses of instruction at Fort Benning. They used this opportunity to speak to the audience about how their courses benefit students and their units, and to provide an update on how they will integrate cross-domain maneuver, the Army concept of operating simultaneously in the five domains: air, land, sea, space and cyberspace.
Brig. Gen. Christopher L. Donahue, commander of the U.S. Army Infantry School, introduced the panel to the audience. He described how the influence of these courses extends beyond the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
“This isn’t just a TRADOC issue, this is an Army issue,” he said. “What we’re doing here at the school house, it affects every formation out there.”
The Maneuver Captain’s Career Course is designed to prepare Army captains to be commanders at the company, battalion and brigade levels. Fouche said he and the small group leaders (SGLs) who instruct the students, will continue to challenge the prospective company, battalion and brigade commanders with orders that include cross-domain maneuver concepts and strategies.
“During the company phase, SGLs will manage the level of complexity in the company order so we can get after the basics but also add cross-domain maneuver,” he said. “In the battalion phase, all orders will involve visualizing, synchronizing and operating across multiple domains.”
MCCC leadership will seek to include expert guidance from the other Army centers of excellence. Subject-matter experts will be given the opportunities to speak to students about operating within domains other than land and air, which are traditionally taught at the Maneuver Center of Excellence.
To further capitalize on the experience of MCoE partners, Fouche introduced an instructor exchange program for the MCCC. This program will bring in instructors from the Army’s sister services, like the Air Force, and the other centers of excellence to directly teach students. In exchange, the MCoE will send instructors to other courses of instruction around the Defense Department and Army to share experience and expertise.
Judge, who oversees the MCCC as well as the Armor Basic Officer Leader Course (ABOLC), the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course (IBOLC) and several other advanced leadership courses at Fort Benning, said his goal is to train leaders who will effectively serve the U.S. Army.
“The end state, the goal, is to train cross-domain maneuver leaders who can lead, win and survive on the multi-domain battlefield,” he said.
While MCoE courses currently focus on air and land, Judge said he wants to integrate the other domains as quickly as possible. Instead of waiting for formal points of instruction to be changed, a process that can take as many as three years to be approved and instituted, he and his team are working to integrate cross-domain maneuver principles immediately.
The combined competitive maneuver exercise, which includes students from multiple courses including ABOLC and IBOLC, has been included in the course curriculums to force students to strategize in a war-game scenario. This exercise will be altered into a cross-domain maneuver exercise to further familiarize students with the realities of operating in multiple domains at once.
“This will be a true, combined-arms maneuver exercise in all domains,” Judge said.
The Henry Caro Non-Commissioned Officer Academy, which also falls under Judge’s command, is primarily overseen by the school’s commandant, Ames. The NCOA has updated leadership development training and tactical education to include unified land operations using cross-domain maneuver, Ames said.
“The Maneuver Center of Excellence NCO Academy continues to evolve with the operational needs of the force by leaning forward with new concepts, emerging initiatives as directed by higher commands,” he said.
Kendrick, who oversees infantry entry training, compared the Army’s infantry training to that of the Marine Corps. Over the last 36 years, the Army has sustained the 14-week training model for initial entry infantry Soldiers, he said. Compare this to the Marine Corps, who dedicate 21 weeks of training to new infantry Marines.
“What does that really get you?” he asked rhetorically. “Twenty-six miles of additional foot marching; six days of additional training for land navigation, combat care; 29 additional days of weapons systems training; eight additional days for mortar; and about 24 additional days of offensive, defensive and controlling.”
Vincent, who oversees the Ranger School, said the changing operating environment the U.S. Army operates in does not change everything.
“The one thing that’s remained the same is the need for confident leaders of character,” he said.
Similar to Kendrick, Vincent believes increased training will gradually produce more rangers. Nevertheless, instead of increasing the number of training days in the course, Vincent advocates allowing Soldiers who have failed certain functional areas of the Ranger School to try again. This will “recycle” the Soldier to the previous class, increasing training time for that individual without increasing the length of the entire class.
Norrie, commander of the Operations Group at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, closed out the panel by commenting on four aspects of Army training: the physical follows the temporal, decisive action efficiency is improving, there are no shortcuts to readiness, and the fundamentals matter. In regard to his first point, he said the culture change we expect to see in the Army as cross-domain maneuver concepts and practices take effect will start with changing the way we think about and train for maneuver on the battlefield.
“Ideas matter,” he said. “They’re driving change not only in the future, but right now in our Army. That’s why I, and I know many, appreciate this conversation and this opportunity to participate as part of the conference.”
To see photos from Day One of the Maneuver Warfighter Conference, visit www.fortbenningphotos.com/Maneuver-Center/MCoE-Events/Conferences/Annual-Maneuver-Conference/Maneuver-Warfighter-Conference/Maneuver-Warfighter-Conference-Day-Two.
For more Maneuver Warfighter Conference stories, visit https://benningnews.org/tag/manwarcon.