News: Cone discusses command progress, suicide prevention during town hall
Story by Frederick Poole
FORT EUSTIS, Va. -- Gen. Robert W. Cone, commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command led a Sept. 13 town hall meeting at Fort Eustis' Jacobs Theater where he shared the command's progress over the last year, and held a question-and-answer session with the soldiers and civilians assigned to TRADOC.
"It's been an incredible year," Cone said. "TRADOC was put in a position where it had to perform to set conditions for the Army into the future, and it has truly been a magnificent year."
The meeting began with Cone acknowledging TRADOC's impact on the Army as a whole, progress with its command initiatives, addressing Army-wide areas of concern, and talking about the ongoing facility upgrades taking place across the installation.
TRADOC is a key leader in four of the Army Chief of Staff's five priorities.
These priorities include developing the force of the future (Army of 2020); sustaining a high quality all-volunteer Army; adapting leader development to meet future security challenges; and fostering continued commitment to the Army Profession.
Cone said TRADOC will have trained more than 700,000 soldiers by close of fiscal year 2012. Prior to the war, TRADOC trained roughly 400,000 soldiers and last year trained more than 600,000 soldiers.
"Much of the increase in soldiers being trained comes from structured self-development and online courses," Cone said.
He pointed out that teaching via online courses does not lessen the workload for TRADOC because executing state-of-the-art online courses still requires instructors to grade papers and provide feedback.
Besides the increase in the volume of training at TRADOC schools and courses, Cone believes the quality of the training has also improved through the extensive application of the "Army Learning Model."
"A year ago I could talk conceptually about the Army Learning Model, but today I can go out on the ground and walk into most of our schools and centers and I am very impressed by the things that they are doing," Cone said.
Cone used the Intelligence Center of Excellence as an example of leveraging and incorporating technology into the classroom. One digital application the students are using has reduced training time from seven to two hours.
Cone noted that the time saved by using digital training resources like "apps" can be applied towards reinforcing other skills such as oral and written communication.
Cone noted that one of the most important accomplishments of the command is the launch of "Doctrine 2015."
Doctrine 2015 transforms the Army's doctrinal base to deliver doctrine -- clear, concise, current and accessible -- to the point of need. The first level of Army doctrine -- Army Doctrine Publications -- consists of 15 foundational manuals about 10-15 pages long that capture the enduring principles inherent in land warfare in the 21st century.
The ADPs are now available via the new "Doctrine 2015" website at http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/MCCOE/Doctrine2015Tables.asp.
However, now that the doctrine is available, Cone believes the challenge now is to get soldiers to use it. "The biggest problem with doctrine is not writing it; it's getting the force to use and understand it," Cone said.
The TRADOC CG also discussed several Army-wide concerns such as suicide, discrimination, hazing, and sexual assault and harassment.
"We have to look harder at preventing suicides, and we have to think outside the box," Cone said. "In my mind soldiers are in the top one percent of Americans when they raise their right hand to join the Army. This loss of life, this tragic loss of great soldiers is just unacceptable to me."
In regard to sexual harassment and hazing, Cone made it clear to the audience that there is zero tolerance for those actions in the Army and TRADOC.
"Sexual harassment is like a cancer in an organization that takes happy, willing participants and takes away their ability to contribute. I will not tolerate that in TRADOC," Cone said. "It amazes me that in the year 2012, I have to stand up in front of an audience and talk about things like racial or gender discrimination."
Cone emphasized that TRADOC should work as a team, and that those who support discrimination, harassment or hazing cannot be part of the organization.
He concluded the town hall by discussing the improvements to TRADOC's new home -- Fort Eustis. The commissary will be upgraded starting in November, the Post Exchange upgraded started in May, and fitness facility improvements are also ongoing for Anderson Field House.
Cone says there will be about $425 million invested in Fort Eustis to make it a better place to live. Half of this has already been spent and the remainder will be used for improvements in the very near future.