Soldiers must regain readiness mindset, says Gen. Abrams

| November 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

Indirect fire infantrymen, assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, “Broncos,” 25th Infantry Division, ready with their M224 60mm Lightweight mortar prior to the start of a live fire exercise at the Battle Area Complex on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Sept. 14, 2017. The live fire exercise was part of Bronco Strike, a two weeklong exercise at various training areas on Oahu. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

David Vergun
Army News Service

WASHINGTON — Gen. Robert B. Abrams recalled once being awakened at 2 a.m. on a Friday. It was the early 1980s then, and he was a young lieutenant stationed in a cavalry squadron in West Germany.

It was a unit alert that had awaken him, he recalled. Back then, those alerts could come at any time, completely unannounced. And when they came, Soldiers in area bars would need to report to their units, in whatever state they were in, within two hours.

Abrams, commander, U.S. Army Forces Command, spoke earlier this month at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition. Once Soldiers were assembled, he said, they had four hours to get all their gear and ammunition loaded on trucks and tanks, and move out to their tactical assembly areas. They had to be ready to cross the border into East Germany, if called to do so.

“Everyone had a sense of urgency and knew what was at stake,” he said, remembering his early days in the Army.
The Army needs to regain that same sense of urgency today, he said, but “we’re not there yet in our Army.”
However, the mindset is beginning to shift, he said. “That’s the direction the Army is now taking.”

Improved training
Abrams pointed to a number of readiness indicators, including training, which he said has improved over the last couple of years.

Recently, the Army has shifted its training focus to a “decisive-action training environment (or DATE) that’s very robust,” he said.

The DATE includes training with both conventional and non-conventional forces in all domains during every combat training center, or CTC rotation, he said.

Leading up to the CTC rotation, units have also improved their home-station training, he said, adding that there’s been a 300 percent increase in company-level, live-fire exercises at home station over the last two years. Even aviation units at the platoon and company levels are now participating in live-fire exercises, something not widely seen since before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

Non-deployables reduced
“We’ve made huge progress over the last couple of years in reducing the number of non-deployable (Soldiers),” Abrams said, adding that it’s still the No. 1 readiness challenge facing the Army today.

Some units have seven or eight percent non-deployables, he said, so there’s still some work to do to shrink those numbers.
Abrams attributed improvements in reducing the number of non-deployable Soldiers to several factors, including the fielding this year of the commander’s Medical Readiness Dashboard. That computerized medical update allows company and battalion commanders to better understand and deal with the medical status of their Soldiers.

Improved physical training is another area the general credited with reducing injuries and elevating fitness levels.

 

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