TRADOC Leader Describes Lessons Learned, Future of Warfare

May 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor
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The keynote speaker at the East: Joint Warfighting 2013 Wednesday lunch, Gen. Robert W. Cone, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, highlighted the progression from network-centric warfare to the Army’s digital divisions and rapid decisive operations in Iraq. In addition, the general discussed lessons learned, pointing to the conclusion that the nature of war remains a clash of wills and is inherently human.

The military also learned that it is impossible to predict the level to which humans can adapt. Gen. Cone said that coalition fighting in Southwest Asia showed a lack of understanding of this human equation of war. “Unless we pick this up as a key lesson, we’re going to come apart. We need to prepare the land forces so they have a good understanding of the human domain. The lesson was that we weren’t prepared for the human dimension [of the conflict],” the general said.

These are not criticisms of operations but rather lessons that will help the military—in particular the Army—prepare for future conflicts. For example, everything the military does must be linked to national security objectives the general said. If a tactic or idea works, the adversary will continue to use it, including kinetic and cyber. The range of military operations must extend from support to influencing human behavior, Gen. Cone said. To support these kinds of missions, the Army is aligning its force structure with the combatant commands’ needs.

The Army's best work has been in its own human domain—developing warfighters—but training must be revamped to meet young soldiers’ where they live—in the digital world. “This is the most digitally enabled generation we’ve ever had. We have to use the tools we have today—apps, mobile devices, iPads—to train them,” the general said. Although only in the preliminary stages of using these tools, the service already has found that soldiers learn more efficiently and effectively when simulations and gaming, rather than books and lectures, are used. However, Gen. Cone pointed out that digital training does fall short in certain areas—those of effective communications. Young soldiers must still learn how to write well to ensure that they can communicate their findings when briefing military leaders, he explained.

“The biggest problem we face today is that we have not identified the next big idea,” the general continued. One of these ideas could come out of the Army’s newest cyber idea: the Cyber Center of Excellence. A location has not yet been identified; however, Gen. Cone believes it could be at Fort Gordon.

East: Joint Warfighting is taking place at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Virginia, May 14-16.

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