The Army's three components must continue to train together as the service works to prepare to face a volatile, uncertain world, the top commander of Forces Command said Monday morning.
"When the call comes, you must be ready," Gen. Robert "Abe" Abrams said during the Association of the United States Army's annual meeting. "Readiness has to be and continues to be the number one priority in U.S. Forces Command. There is no other priority. If you ever think you're going to need an Army, if you ever think you're going to use an Army, then you better have a good one, and it better be ready."
Abrams said that "there's no doubt in my mind" the Army will continue to be called upon to respond to threats around the world, from the Islamic State terror group to an increasingly aggressive Russia to growing unrest in Africa.
"Our total Army is committed in 140 locations worldwide, with 180,000 boots on the ground, shaping, assuring, deterring," he said. "With all of this uncertainty, now more than ever, our Army needs to be ready."
To achieve this goal, the Army must focus on "tough, realistic training," Abrams said.
This includes "countless reps and sets, focusing on fundamentals, the blocking and tackling" of the military profession, he said.
The Army also must work together — active, National Guard and Army Reserve — to build on those fundamentals, he said.
"Over the last 14 years, we've demonstrated that the United States Army cannot meet the demands of the nation without the total force," Abrams said.
Forces Command, working alongside the Guard and Reserve, has formed several partnerships between active-duty and reserve units. One example is the Total Force Partnership Program, which pairs active component brigade combat teams with BCTs in the Guard.
Launched last year, the program teams BCTs from different components in an effort to increase training opportunities at home and boost leader development. The partnered units could do anything from large-scale unit training exercises to individual exchanges. Commanders are tasked with seeking opportunities to train together either at home or during annual training events.
There are similar programs "for every type unit we own," Abrams said, including engineer brigades, fires brigades and aviation brigades.
"There are countless examples of successful partnerships that are contributing significantly to building readiness," he said. "It is through these types of exercises that we … build readiness together."