News: AWG adaptability program embraced by Division
Story by Lt. Col. Sonise Lumbaca
Schofield Barracks, HAWAII- Members of the U.S. Army Asymmetric Warfare Group are assisting the Army in creating an adaptive force through its Asymmetric Warfare Adaptive Leader Program. Besides hosting this 10-day resident program at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., the AWG has partnered with the 25th Infantry Division to increase the dissemination of its adaptive methodology.
Members of the U.S. Army Asymmetric Warfare Group are assisting the Army in one of its major initiatives: creating an adaptive force. The unit, headquartered out of Fort Meade, Md., has been operating the 10-day Asymmetric Warfare Adaptive Leader Program at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., for nearly two years. Within those two years, word about the program from previous participants has generated some interest on a larger scale. Rather than only sending a small group of Soldiers to the resident program, the AWG has partnered with the 25th Infantry Division to increase the dissemination of adaptive methodology, while making its incorporation more cost effective.
“The purpose of bringing AWALP to the 25th Infantry Division [is] to help leadership and command teams incorporate adaptability into their training in order to develop soldiers to be more fit and ready for combat,” said First Sgt. Justin Stewart, a company first sergeant for the 25th Infantry Division.
Traditionally, AWALP is a resident training program that places soldiers into ambiguous environments so that they learn how to critically and creatively think through problem sets using intangible attributes while achieving the commander’s intent within various operational environments. Based on the Individual Adaptability Theory (a.k.a I-ADAPT Theory published in the Journal of Applied Psychology), the AWG has focused its training program on developing those intangible attributes, calling them the Eight Dimensions of Adaptability. These attributes include creative thinking, dealing with ambiguity and physical adaptability.
The 25th Infantry Division first embarked on this method of developing adaptive leaders by sending a group of soldiers to the AWG’s AWALP 10-day resident program. These soldiers ranked from sergeant to lieutenant and held leadership positions within the Division that directly affect training. To maximize their efforts in rapidly creating an adaptive mindset throughout the Division, the 25th Infantry Division is taking this effort another step forward to create their own adaptability program using the AWG’s adaptive methodologies. They are calling the pilot program the Lightening Adaptive Leader Program; named after the unit’s tag name.
“AWALP is one of the most important programs that [our Soldiers] are stepping into, not only for the Division, but for the Army,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Ray Devens, the 25th Infantry Division command sergeant major.
Members of the 25th Infantry Division who had previously attended the 10-day resident AWALP were sent back to the program at Fort A.P. Hill, but not as students. Instead, they went through the program as observers and shadowed the AWALP cadre in order to understand the logistics and coordination in developing adaptability training.
“About five of us in the Division initially, went to the first [program],” said Sgt. 1st Class James Falls, an operations noncommissioned officer for the 25th Infantry Division. “And then from there, we were asked to actually go back a second time as assistant instructors to kind of view some of the support pieces that goes on behind the scenes in order to run this program; the logistics of it, the timing of it, things of that nature.”
In order to further assist the Division with this initiative, the AWG sent members of its AWALP cadre to Schofield Barracks in order to provide advisory assistance to the Division to incorporate adaptability into their training program.
“AWG assisting units at the division level, rather than just sending small groups of soldiers to the resident program, will assist the Army in transitioning to an adaptive force quicker and cut costs,” said Master Sgt. Michael L. Crosby II, an operational adviser for the AWG and noncommissioned officer in charge of AWALP. “Working at the division level also tells us that we have buy-in from the division command team; they understand the importance of what adaptability is and when information comes from the ‘top,’ it is sure to resonate at the lowest levels.”
“This is just the beginning. We want our soldiers [who have been brought in from throughout the Division], to learn as much as possible about adaptability training. And from there, we want our soldiers to return to [their subordinate units] and to take this training methodology and incorporate it back to their units’ training,” said Devens.
The hope is that while the 25th Infantry Division LALP cadre set up their training program for their soldiers to participate in, they will be able to determine what works for them as far as developing the complete program and what doesn’t work, Devens said.
For example, while most installations have similar training facilities such as marksmanship ranges, obstacle courses, and other venues, there may be limitations with one installation that may not be relevant to another, Crosby said.
“This is where the importance of being extremely familiar with your local logistics backbone comes into play,” he added.
“The logistical support for this [program] has probably been the most difficult piece of it. Some of that is likely attributed to the fact that we are in Hawaii and on Schofield Barracks,” said Capt. Nate Wilson, the operations training officer for the Division. “The restrictions for range utilization and space are so strict and so confined [on Hawaii] that it took a lot of work, coordination and creativity.”
Wilson added that the logistics wasn’t anything that was overwhelmingly challenging and it certainly wasn’t anything that was going to keep the 25th Infantry Division from being able to put the program together.
“It is a matter of knowing exactly what resources we have available to us at home station, because sometimes you can be at a base for a while and still not know what assets you have in your back pocket to leverage,” Wilson said.
While setting up and providing this form of adaptability training was new for members of the 25th Infantry Division Soldiers, the experience proved to be a rewarding experience.
“The participants are giving us great responses through their feedback. Not only that, but the way the program is set up it gives them a lot of opportunities to really engage the [AWG] guides as to their thought process behind the methodology,” Falls said.
“Coming out of this training, I learned a lot,” said Sgt. Sonny Burk, a radio operator and maintainer assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment. “I learned that adaptability is not just something you are or you aren’t. Adaptability is definitely something that you can learn; something that training can develop and bring out of you.”
Through its motivated leadership and internal resources, the 25th Infantry Division continues its effort in building an adaptive force to meet the demands of the current operational environment.
The U.S. Army Asymmetric Warfare Group provides operational advisory and Solution Development support globally to the Army and Joint Force Commanders to enhance Soldier survivability and combat effectiveness, and enable the defeat of current and emerging threats in support of Unified Land Operations.