“While the Army continues the fight in Afghanistan and maintains a range of global engagements, we must simultaneously begin transitioning from a decade focused on counterinsurgency (COIN) operations to a smaller, more versatile Army that will take on a broader range of missions in support of national defense objectives.” (Army Training Strategy, Nov 2012)
Critical to effectively managing this transition described in the Army Training Strategy is the development of agile and adaptive leaders. These leaders must be agile enough to rapidly adjust from conducting stability operations in a counterinsurgency one day to conducting offensive operations against a large conventional force the next. They must be adaptive to a broad spectrum of operational environmental conditions, with the professional acumen to recognize both opportunities and risks. One of the programs I am restarting to build these agile, adaptive leaders is Project Warrior.
Project Warrior is a program in which Captains serve two years as an Observer-Coach-Trainer (OCT) at a maneuver combat training center (MCTC), followed by two years as a Small Group Instructor (SGI) at a TRADOC Center of Excellence (CoE). This program was first implemented in 1989 to fill an experience void created by the departure of Vietnam-era combat veteran instructors, since the combat training centers provided the closest experience to actual combat operations. Project Warrior was eventually suspended due to operational requirements in Iraq and Afghanistan. My intent in reinstituting Project Warrior is to infuse observations, insights, and lessons gained from multiple MCTC Decisive Action rotations against hybrid threats, back into the Force through the TRADOC CoEs. Our current generation of company grade officers is fully proficient at counterinsurgency operations. However, they lack experience conducting simultaneous offense, defense, and stability operations against hybrid threats, which include conventional and irregular forces, terrorists, and criminal elements. With the MCTCs currently transforming to Decisive Action training against these types of threats, we need to once again take advantage of the experience and doctrinal expertise OCTs gain while serving at the combat training centers.
Project Warrior will only be successful, however, if we get the right officers to participate. A Project Warrior officer should be a top 10 percent leader that we believe will one day command a battalion and, potentially, a brigade. He or she is the Captain we want training the next cohort of company commanders in the Captains Career Course. Small and selective by design, the program at end state will have 66 officers serving at the combat training centers, and another 66 serving at the TRADOC CoEs. While there’s always a tendency to want to retain our best officers in our MTOE formations as long as we can, I need Commanders making the tough calls and doing what’s best for these high performers and our Army by supporting the Project Warrior program to the fullest extent possible. To ensure these outstanding leaders are recognized, I will issue special instructions to future selection boards to assign appropriate consideration to the experiences of Project Warrior officers, and their potential for future contributions to the Army.
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