Back to train as you fight.
Actual fighting will now take precedence over dealing with transitioning transgender troops, drug abuse and other issues as the Army seeks to overhaul its training regimen to hone its soldiers’ battlefield skills.
In a series of recent service-wide memoranda approved by Army Secretary Mark Esper and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and obtained by The Washington Times, service leaders are now making optional previously mandatory training on issues like transgender transition and drug abuse. The move, Army leaders argue, is designed to relieve stress on the already overburdened troop training regimen and refocus on soldiers ability to fight in combat.
“The Army’s regulations and policies that deal with training were pretty settled and there were not a lot of detractors to it. … It was all the other [training] requirements that we levied on ourselves, or we had levied from other places” that led to the increasingly cumbersome approach to combat readiness, said Col. John O’Grady, chief of the Army’s collective training division.
Those mandated training requirements “served as barriers to maximizing time … to build readiness and lethality” within combat units, he said in an interview. Aside from ending mandatory training programs on transgender troops and drug abuse, courses on media awareness and anti-human trafficking have also been eliminated from the mandatory curriculum, the service memoranda state.
Army officials are codifying the new marching orders into service-wide training guidelines and doctrine, which will bring the Army more in line with the Pentagon’s new National Defense Strategy, Col. O’Grady said.
The strategy, which was one of Defense Secretary James Mattis’ earliest policy initiatives, shifted away from the George W. Bush and Obama-era strategies dominated by battling extremist groups like al Qaeda, the Taliban and Islamic State, and putting the priority on challenging traditional nation-state rivals such as China and Russia. It also placed a greater emphasis on increasing lethality in conventional combat operations.
Along with scaling back non-combat training mandates, service leaders are also extending the time soldiers spend in infantry training. Soldiers graduating from the nine-week basic training course will now spend an additional two months in “advanced individual training” (AIT) before heading to their first duty stations.
Currently new soldiers spend about six weeks in AIT before deploying. AIT courses based at Ft. Benning, Georgia — dubbed “Home of the Infantry” — will be the first to implement extended training time schedule, Military.com reported.