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May 28, 2004

Iraq and Afghanistan provide a needed shape-up to the Army.

Not that I thought we were doing things badly before the war... but we're doing them much better now - at least in terms of training the troops. You can argue lots of things at the Colonel-level and higher!

From today's Strategy Page update:

THE WAY THINGS REALLY WORK: The Iraq Effect on Military Training

May 28, 2004: Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have forced the U.S. armed forces to change the way it trains it troops. Especially for the army, which is supplying over two thirds of the troops (but has less than half the manpower in the Department of Defense). As is typical in wartime, all those useless frills that accumulate during peacetime are quickly tossed. Especially in basic training, troops are spending less time in the classroom and more time out in the field, wearing body armor and carrying the same combat equipment they will soon be hauling around Iraq or Afghanistan. The recruits are pretty enthusiastic about it, for this is still a war being fought by volunteers. No one is taking basic training who doesn’t want to, and everyone knows where they are likely to end up.

All other forms of training have also undergone a wartime reality check.

Electronic technicians are learning more about operating in hot, dusty, environments. Officers and NCOs are getting more training on how to plan aand carry out the types of combat missions typical of Afghanistan and Iraq (and just about any combat zone.) In general, there’s a lot less theoretical training, and a lot more hands on, practical stuff. This trend took hold quickly because new instructors were coming to the army schools straight from a tour in Iraq or Afghanistan. Combat veterans have always been accorded a lot of respect, and the schools were quick to use their combat experienced instructors to revise the curriculum.

Basic is a hell of a lot better than it was when I went through it!

They also have some good news on the PR front...