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Army Could Replace Contractors With Soldiers to 'Re-Green' Service

February 24 2012 at 6:48 PM
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Army Could Replace Contractors With Soldiers to 'Re-Green' Service
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February 24, 2012
Military.com|by Michael Hoffman

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Army needs to fix a system that gives soldiers more credit for operational positions than for career-broadening assignments, said Gen. Bob Cone, head of the Armys Training and Doctrine Command.

He also said he wants todays soldiers to begin retaking the places now held by civilians and contractors in the institutional Army so they can directly pass on what theyve learned in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cone wants to shape a postwar Army that will continue to change after more than a decade of fighting. Although the service plans to draw down about 80,000 soldiers over the coming years, it wants to keep as many of its battle-hardened officers and noncommissioned officers as possible.

After the end of the Afghan war, they and other soldiers will have many more opportunities to complete a fellowship, teach at West Point or learn a language. Cone said he wants the Army to reward those kinds of assignments just as it does operational ones.

And he said not to worry that the drawdown might leave a glut of senior combat veterans without new young troops to lead: Cone argued that its about time the service folds its officers and NCOs back into the institutional Army.

The Army four-star who took over TRADOC after Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said he wants to see soldiers get out of the habit of finding an operational assignment and sticking there.

This generation thinks that the model is, you go into a unit and stay in the fight forever. The long-term implication is that you become a colonel. How do we reinstitute the broadening experiences, thereby creating more opportunity to go to the operational force? Cone asked in a speech at the Association of the U.S. Armys Winter Symposium on Thursday.

Many soldiers would argue thats the way to ensure a promotion, but Cone said those days would end. On visits to units, soldiers have told Cone they like the idea of accepting more diverse assignments, but say they dont want to do it at the expense of [their] career.

Cone, who taught at West Point, wants promotion boards to value a career-broadening assignment such as teaching at an Army schoolhouse. He admits thats not the reality now, describing the system as broken.

The service has a responsibility to re-green the institutional Army, Cone said. He wants to replace contractors and civilians -- whose service over the past decade he was quick to commend -- with todays officers and NCOs.

Its a great way to get allow those soldiers with combat experience to share it with the rest of the Army, Cone told reporters.

He also wants these combat veterans to get to work writing the Armys future doctrine. The same generation that was let down by the doctrine that we had as they went into Iraq and Afghanistan could fix it, Cone said.

Many [doctrine manuals] hadnt been updated for 15 to 20 years and that is the reason why, in many cases, this generation of warfighters didnt use them, he said.


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