Military Review English Edition July-August 2014 - Page 41

SUSTAINING THE ARNG Second, commanders and staffs must plan and prepare unit training that simulates real-world operations as closely as possible. Commanders must incorporate experiences and challenges faced in the counterinsurgency fight of the past 13 years into present-day unit training. This calls for innovative training events that use organic resources aimed at platoon and staff proficiency. Besides developing proficiency in mission-essential tasks, a National Guard commander’s responsibility includes ensuring each unit is prepared to conduct domestic operations. At any given time an ARNG unit may be tasked to provide support to civil authorities. Therefore, the commander’s training emphasis must be balanced between the unit’s mission-essential task list and domestic operational requirements. Unit leaders and trainers must learn to use modeling and simulations so they can reduce costs, train faster, and increase proficiency.12 The use of live, virtual, constructive, and gaming training enables commanders to conduct low-cost, multi-echelon events in complex operational environments while at home station.13 Digital training through modeling and simulations allows commanders to train on exercising mission command while integrating all of the warfighting tactical systems in realistic combat situations. National Guard leaders at all levels must be able to employ training models and simulations that support decision making, course-of-action development, mission planning, rehearsals, and operations. In addition, National Guard commanders must embrace distance learning (DL) as a cost-saving measure. Currently, access to DL is a significant challenge for many ARNG soldiers; the National Guard Bureau must continue to expand access to DL opportunities. Soldiers must realize that advancement opportunities depend on personal initiative that includes DL, and commanders must seek out ways to accommodate soldiers who are pursuing DL requirements. Structured self-development is part of the Army’s strategy to reinforce the Noncommissioned Officer Education System, but inadequate funding for individual qualification training will continue to limit opportunities. Regardless, commanders must remain committed to making MOS qualification and required professional military education a high priority. Soldiers MILITARY REVIEW  July-August 2014 who attend a qualification school will not always receive funding to attend annual training during the same training year. Commanders must consider this when planning training, but they should allow soldiers to attend school programs to advance their careers. In conjunction with the unit status report, the ARNG also should measure the readiness of a brigade’s digital systems. The unit status report should provide senior commanders a snapshot of a unit’s digital capability. Commanders can assess capabilities using the standard man, equip, and train model. For manning, does the unit have 90 percent of the required MOSs for that section? For equipping, does the unit have all necessary equipment and is it functional? Finally, the unit commander can estimate how proficient the unit is with the equipment and how well it can support mission command. The figure (Status Chart Example) provides an example of one way an infantry brigade combat team could use a simple chart to represent an overview of the status of its digital systems. Tracking the status of each brigade combat team’s digital systems is crucial to maintaining the ARNG as an operational force. Individual commanders and the force as a whole need a standard approach to monitoring and reporting on digital capabilities. The ARNG has no standard quantitative or qualitative method for brigade commanders to track the status of all their digital systems in relation to overall readiness. The ARNG should host a planning conference with brigade-level commanders to determine the components that require measurement and tracking. Each brigade-level commander should brief the ARNG commander—or the aligned-for-training division commander—annually on the overall status of the brigade’s digital systems. This practice will help ensure there is enough time to rectify readiness issues before they become critical. True readiness can only be achieved through training that replicates real-world problems, stresses the mastery of mission command, exercises the expert application of lethal force, and reinforces standards and discipline. Innovative, resolute commanders who anticipate needs and become experts in training management—from planning training to writing unit status report comments—will help their units thrive in an era of fiscal austerity. 39