Gen. Randy George, acting chief, and Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Weimer laid out these areas on Tuesday to both an in-person and online audience at the epicenter of Army combat arms, the Maneuver Warfighter Conference at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Moore, Georgia.
The all-encompassing effort is aimed at a singular focus — warfighting. That will mean tough training but also reducing and even cutting some of the time-consuming, non-warfighting tasks.
“If there are things on your training schedule that are not making you more lethal or more cohesive where you’re taking care of your teammates, then you need to have a discussion about taking that off the schedule and not doing it,” George said.
The four areas cover a wide range but offer specific signals as to how, and where, the new chief plans to lead the Army over the next four years.
Those four areas include warfighting, continuous transformation, strengthening the profession and delivering ready combat formations.
Beating back criticisms of real-life problems that soldiers face such as managing deployment and training with family time, Weimer clarified how warfighting drives even those very personal factors of Army life.
“Warfighting is the reason we exist,” Weimer said. “But you can’t be a good warfighter if you don’t take care of your family, if you don’t take care of your teammates. You can’t be a good warfighter if you can’t manage your time. The list goes on and on and on. So, they’re not inseparable.”
As part of the warfighting focus, the pair said they want to reduce the non-combat preparation work for even low-level commanders. George noted it shouldn’t take three or more weeks for a company commander to inventory their gear.
But the general isn’t tossing it all on the lower ranks. He pointed to industry and commercial models, noting that a Walmart staff can inventory their entire store overnight. He expects to develop “passive inventory systems” to aid commanders with that task.
Warfighting will also mean more tools to do the job of combat more efficiently. George noted a recent visit to 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which was amid training, “in the box” as its known, for Saber Junction, an exercise in U.S. Army Europe and Africa Command.
George said that commanders of the cavalry unit were able to control six Stryker combat vehicles all on tablet computer devices.
In the same remarks, George held up a tablet saying that a unit commander, his or her staff and subordinates should all be able to view the common operating picture on the same device.
He recalled deploying with a command and control cell that carried 19 pelican cases and took nearly 15 vehicles to move around the battlespace.
“We can’t operate like that on the battlefield,” George said.
Part of improving training and buying more time will be on the higher echelon units to take the burden off the lower-level commanders, George said.
One example George provided included the division warfighter exercises. These are complex, multi-echelon unit events. The general sees these types of events as building a collective, virtual or simulated, trainer so the larger units, such as brigades and divisions, can practice their work without having to line up all the subordinate units.
“I think about the video game culture and see no reason why we cannot produce, and we will, a collective trainer so that battalion and higher can acquire reps and sets,” George said.
For the continuous transformation focus, both men signaled a strong commitment to the Holistic Health and Fitness program, and specifically the Army Combat Fitness Test, a topic of debate among soldiers and even members of Congress since its inception in recent years.
“We’re going to continue doing the ACFT,” Weimer said in direct response to an audience question.
He called both the ACFT and H2F critical tools for changing the culture of fitness in the Army.
George added on, saying that the standards for the ACFT will evolve as part of the continuous transformation effort. The acting chief also noted that they would soon announce additional funding to speed up the resourcing of the H2F staff and equipment more quickly to units.
The current timeline calls for the 110 combat arms brigades across the Army to receive the complement of H2F staff and gear by 2030.
For delivering combat-ready formations beyond training, George said that reducing unnecessary demands, such as vehicle maintenance and improving industrial base production would help.
Many of the munitions plants in the United States still rely on decades-old technologies. Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth and the previous Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, talked about this publicly in recent years.
George said he wants to put resources into those plants and to companies that produce crucial parts for Army systems. The general looks to “magazine depth,” meaning how many munitions, personnel and equipment the force has ready to go to war, including parts as well as bullets and artillery shells.
The general has already consulted a group of senior chief warrant officers on vehicle maintenance. He said that a review that would allow for going longer on vehicles specifically before pulling them in for deep maintenance cycles would save “35 man years” of maintenance time for I Corps alone.
George and Weimer’s plan to strengthen the profession focuses mostly on standards and discipline and looks to take in lessons learned, such as those happening now in Ukraine, into unit training and schools so that soldiers and officers have the most relevant, up-to-date combat information and techniques.
A new effort, dubbed, “The Harding Project,” seeks to reinvigorate professional writing and debate. George is calling on the use of publications such as Infantry Magazine, Armor Magazine, Modern War Institute and War on the Rocks.
“That’s what it takes to be a professional at your skill,” Weimer said. “We read, we write, we discuss.”
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.