The start of a new year is when many of us resolve to do better in the coming 12 months (or fiscal year, whichever works for you). With that in mind, TSJ has a few suggestions for resolutions that the Pentagon should make:
1. Embrace the mobile revolution. Tablets and smartphones are the future (if not always a bright one). Technical and security challenges abound when connecting these devices to classified networks, so it is understandable that the military is struggling to come up with a policy for them, just as it grappled with social media. But it is a struggle that will have to won and decisively so, because mobile training devices are too useful to ignore.
2. Choose a color in full-spectrum warfare. Full-spectrum operations, as envisaged in the Army Learning Concept 2015 (PDF), is a reasonable response to what will be a tumultuous 21st century where the location of the next war is anybody’s guess. Yet every color in the spectrum of warfare cannot receive equal attention. It is impossible to train for all types of conflict at the same time, especially when defense budgets are tight. Beyond training in core combat skills, there will have to be a decision at some point on whether the U.S. military should focus its training on conventional warfare or irregular warfare.
3. Don’t dismiss the past. The U.S. military has amassed a great deal of expertise and infrastructure in training for irregular warfare over the past decade. As operations in Afghanistan wind down, there will appear to be less of a need for them, while technology can replace some expensive infrastructure, such as human roleplayers at training sites. Still, these lessons and capabilities were acquired at considerable blood and expense, and it would be a shame (though not a surprise) if a future insurgency erupted and the U.S. military had to start training from scratch.
4. Accept the power of games. The U.S. military, especially the Army, has gone a long way toward incorporating games for training. But there is still a lingering belief that games are fluff. While games will never replace live combat training in the mud, 21st century warfare is going to be a thinking man’s endeavor, and games are good at stimulating thought. Not to mention cheap and convenient.
A happy and healthy New Year to all of you from TSJ.