By Marguerite Cleveland
The Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy recently announced a new emphasis on people. To give junior leaders more time to build their teams it will now be the Army’s top priority. “Just as we did with readiness, we must invest in people,” followed by readiness and modernization, McCarthy said during the opening ceremony of the 2020 Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition. “The time is now.”
“Army leadership will continue to put ‘people first’ as they work to balance operational tempo requirements and make policy changes”, said Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville.
McCarthy acknowledged that the last 19 years of combat operations and global deterrence has come at a cost. People are the Army’s greatest strength and senior leaders released an action plan the will prioritize people and teams.
According to this new plan Army leaders will work to determine the level of total Army readiness necessary to meet operational requirements. This information will help to pursue options that will hopefully reduce the Army’s current cycle of heel-to-toe deployment rotations. “We are taking a look at rotational deployments and working with the [combatant commanders] to see how we can accomplish the mission in innovative ways,” McConville said.
Another new change is the new Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model, or ReARMM, slated to be released in the next few months. Its purpose is to balance op tempo requirements with dedicated periods for mission, training, and modernization.
The Combat Training Center (CTC) rotations are also reevaluated as part of the action plan. “Our CTCs are the gold standard for preparing our organizations for large-scale ground combat operations, especially in this time of great power competition,” McConville said, adding the Army must strive to balance its CTC rotations with other training opportunities.
According to the plan soldiers at brigade and battalion levels training will consist of tactical exercises without troops, command post exercises, and fire support coordination exercises “We will pursue options for the brigade combat training centers that are a mix of ‘in the box’ organic battalions, command post exercises, and heavy and light rotations,” McCarthy said. “These efforts will buy back time at home for our units to invest in their Soldiers and families.”
Leaders have the opportunity to waive a CTC rotation requirement if the unit is scheduled for a noncombat rotational deployment on the condition, they will conduct similar training while deployed. “There is no intent to reduce the number of CTC rotations,” McConville said. “We are discussing the prerequisites required to go to a CTC and how they fit into” the rotational-deployment model.
The Army has faced many challenges in 2020 beginning on New Year’s Eve with an unexpected deployment of soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division to the Middle East. Other challenges included a global pandemic and massive civil unrest. The government response to COVID-19 led to 45,000 active-duty, National Guard, and Reserve Soldiers being called to help step the pandemic.
“As one crisis tapered, another one began. Following the murder of George Floyd, massive civil unrest that had been simmering across the country for decades reached a tipping point,” McCarthy said. The National Guard worked to protect the safety of citizens practicing their constitutional right to protect. He added, “As civil unrest grew, Soldiers watched as peaceful protests turned violent, hijacked by outside actors.”
The murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillen by a fellow soldier shocked the country and sparked the Army to add procedures to clarify what happens when a Soldier fails to report for duty. Under the guidance which will soon be published, the Army will consider them missing and take immediate action.
“Through this sort of reckoning, we realized that some of the same barriers and threats still exist within our formation. We must be accountable, and we must act. This year, and its series of events, has hardened our resolve to create enduring change,” McCarthy said. “The Army is taking rapid, positive, and meaningful steps towards reducing systemic and symbolic inequities, while safeguarding every person in our formation.”
The Army’s Project Inclusion initiative will ensure “that we have an organization that is truly inclusive and makes everyone feel like a valued member of the team,” McConville said. In addition the “This is My Squad” initiative led by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston will continue the Army’s focus on people first.