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Infantry captains career course moves to an outcome-based curriculum.

As the United States Army and our sister services prosecute the global war on terrorism, the experience we gain and the tactics, techniques, and procedures that emerge are reflected in the way we do business. A fundamental part of that business is training, and I'd like to take a few minutes to update you on changes to the Infantry Captains Career Course (ICCC) that we present here at Fort Benning. Some of the changes are already accomplished and the remainder are ongoing.

A number of factors have led us to change ICCC. The main reasons include:

* The need to move from our traditional "input-based" program of instruction (POI) to an outcome-based program--more on this later;

* Lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan and the need to remain relevant. In particular, the need to better incorporate the ambiguities and difficulties we face in the contemporary operating environment (COE) into the course;

* Increasing perceptions that ICCC had become somewhat rigid and that we were not putting enough emphasis on flexible problem solving and effective communications;

* External requirements to change, including TRADOC's increasing emphasis on counterinsurgency (COIN) operations, COE, cultural awareness, and, most immediately, the impending merger of the Infantry and Armor Schools into the Maneuver Center of Excellence.

As we prepare to merge ICCC with its Armor counterpart into the "Maneuver Captains Career Course" (ICCC + ACCC = MCCC), Lieutenant Colonel Steve Russell, our chief of Tactics, and his small group instructors (SGIs) are working closely with their counterparts at Fort Knox. The initial step, nearly completed, is agreeing with the Armor School on what the course will look like. This is more than just the POI; it's also the way we will teach it--the culture of the course. Both commandants have enthusiastically endorsed our proposal, and we are ironing out the final details. The next step, underway now, is to begin teaching the new course at both ICCC and ACCC so that the two begin to converge. The third step, planned for later this year, is to run the initial pilot course at Fort Benning, with instructors and students from both schools learning together. We will adjust POI and methods based on the lessons we learn in the pilot and move quickly to the final step, a fully merged MCCC. Although the Maneuver Center of Excellence will continue to have both an Infantry School and an Armor and Cavalry School, MCCC (and "Maneuver ANCOC") will remain under the Maneuver Center commander--responsive to both commandants, but subordinate to neither.

The most fundamental change (but one which has resulted in little real change in the classroom) is moving from a traditional TRADOC input-based curriculum to one based on outcomes. In other words, we are no longer beginning with "Provide 4.5 instructor contact hours on developing a unit physical fitness program (using the attached Training Support Package)," but rather defining what a successful graduate should know and be able to do, and then figuring out what needs to be taught and how we need to teach it. In this example, it would be that the graduate "Can develop and lead a successful company PT program, including combatives."

In the field Army, this is nothing new. We would not dream of assigning a battalion to seize an objective, and then direct exactly how the commander was to advance, where to establish a support by fire position, which company to use in the breach, etc. Instead, we tell the commander his mission, our intent, and the constraints under which he has to operate. We then require him to backbrief how he plans to accomplish it, to make adjustments as required to ensure it fits into the overall plan, and then we hold him responsible for achieving results. We believe this approach is best for our schools too, and that's how we've redesigned ICCC.

At the end of this article, I've included our initial cut at the course purpose, the "desired outcomes", and the "measures of effectiveness" (MOE) for each. These MOE both define the otherwise somewhat fuzzy desired outcomes and allow us to assess whether we are succeeding. Together, the desired outcomes and their MOE will also serve as the basis for all evaluations and assessments: student grades, peer evaluations, formal course feedback, surveys to you in the field, after action reviews (AARs), etc.

Other important changes:

* Almost every scenario has a "mixed", task-organized TOE, more reflective of the real-world operations we're conducting. A light company will have a heavy platoon attached, for instance.

* We have tried to incorporate contemporary operating environment into every scenario and every day students encounter a few of the most difficult realities we face daily in operations. Among them:

[] Every scenario includes civilians that have to be dealt with in a specific cultural context;

[] Every leader down to at least company commander is required to understand the political context of the operation;

[] Students are steered to think about long-term consequences of short-term actions. Our intent is to make sure each captain understands this not just intellectually, but at gut level. Our initial (primitive at this point) approach is to link tactical problems within a given "module", allowing consequences to carry forward. For instance, if CPT Haskins takes an unwarranted brute-force approach to preventing local villagers from interfering with airfield operations on Tuesday, then on Friday, the situation he faces will be a much more difficult one than his buddy who used a bit more subtlety and finesse and therefore avoided provoking unnecessary hostility.

* Grouping students by type of gaining unit. In the first half of the course (Company Phase), all the students will be jumbled together within their 16-man small groups. In the second half (Battalion/ Brigade Phase), we will resection the students by type of gaining unit: Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT), Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT), Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), or Special Operations. All students will still train on how to become a maneuver battalion S3. All will wrestle with the same tactical scenarios and problems. However, this allows an opportunity for a slightly different focus within each group. HBCT students might spend extra time emphasizing development of engagement areas, for instance, while those going to Special Ops (Special Forces, Civil Affairs [CA], and Psychological Operations [PSYOP]) might focus a bit more on how best to employ PSYOP and CA assets in a particular type of operation and examine what problems typically arise. Again, though, I want to stress that we are creating maneuver battalion S3s, not specialists. We expect that we will sometimes get it wrong, and someone who went through the HBCT group will be assigned to an IBCT; we will still expect him to do just fine.

* We have increased the emphasis on:

[] Quick decision making;

[] Analyzing, understanding, and being able to explain the important points of a given situation;

[] Communicating effectively. While Fort Benning has always done these things, and I think most of us regard them as strengths of infantry officers generally, we are pushing even harder on developing them.

* Adaptiveness and flexibility. The Army and TRADOC are devoting a great deal of effort to figuring out how best to develop these traits in Army leaders. Again, we think this is nothing new to the Infantry. In fact, our students arrive with a great deal of flexibility and adaptiveness. Over 90 percent are combat veterans who have learned to improvise and prevail under pressure. So, our concern is not to instill something that's not there. Rather, it's to teach them tactical planning in a way that magnifies these natural abilities instead of suppressing them or supplanting them with a preference for rigid doctrine. (For what it's worth, we don't believe our doctrine is rigid, but that it is often applied rigidly--we've all known doctrine zealots.)

* Again, we've taken a simple, crude approach, which, so far at least, seems to be working. As they become more comfortable with the material, we begin throwing in "twists:" changed missions, FRAGOs changing the task organization, short-notice accelerated briefing requirements, incomplete or incorrect information, insufficient resources, etc ... just like we've all experienced in the real world. We are hoping to achieve two things. The obvious one is to develop captains who keep their cool and react well to change. Less obvious, but perhaps more important, we're trying to develop captains with an instinctive preference for creating courses of action that are flexible and can be adapted to changing circumstances, rather than perfectly optimized and synchronized plans tailored to a specific situation but which have to be thrown out if the circumstances change.

* Encouraging experimentation. We have given the SGIs a great deal of latitude in how to achieve the course aims. Every group will begin and end each module on the same day, and they will all use the same scenario. All will have the same terminal learning objectives for the module. But standardization ends there. One SGI might require three full-up orders briefs. Another might mix quick-decision drills with one deliberate planning drill. Still another might choose to use historical vignettes and student-taught classes or a tactical exercise without troops (TEWT). Obviously, this type of decentralization requires increased awareness by the SGIs' chain of command, as well as some additional azimuth checks during the course. It also depends on our ability to continue selecting absolutely top-notch captains as SGIs. But we believe that it will enhance our ability to train adaptive and flexible leaders, and by sharing what works and what doesn't across the teams, we believe we will continuously improve the POI and our methods of instruction. Only the outcomes are fixed (and even they will be regularly reviewed and updated). Everything else remains subject to change. Results are what count. So far, we're pleased with the results.

* Although ICCC is not a counterinsurgency course, we are all, obviously, very interested in COIN, and we have to address it in order to be relevant. We are taking two approaches. First, as described above, we've incorporated the most important elements of the COE into all aspects of the course. Dealing with civilians and their culture, the importance of an operation's political context, and careful consideration of long-term consequences of short-term actions all come to the fore in COIN operations. Indeed, at a company or even battalion level, many COIN operations are indistinguishable from operations in a more conventional framework. What differ are the principles guiding our thoughts and actions. Therefore, our second approach is to spend some time in the course examining the principles of COIN in depth, including how they differ from the conventional principles of war and how that difference will affect our overall operational pattern within a scenario.

None of the changes I have outlined is final. We have every expectation that we will continue to change ICCC, and then MCCC, in order to adapt to the implementation of Army force generation (ARFORGEN), to incorporate new TRADOC initiatives on cultural awareness and adaptive leader training--mostly, though, to adapt to the wars we're fighting and the perceived needs of commanders in the field. What we expect to keep is an outcome-based approach to designing and assessing the course. To that end, we will shortly be sending a quick e-mail survey to all Infantry, Armor, and Special Forces battalion and BCT/Group commanders who supervise our recent graduates. We want their feedback on how well we're doing at meeting our desired outcomes, and whether we've gotten those outcomes right.

We also invite feedback on anything else, especially in the areas of tactical instruction, doctrine, and collective training products.

Listed next are the ICCC purpose, our desired outcomes, and the measures of effectiveness for each:

Purpose of the Course

* To prepare students for the leadership, training, and administrative requirements of a successful company commander.

* To prepare students to execute the tactical planning responsibilities of Battalion S3s. This includes mastery of company tactics.

Desired Outcomes

A graduate of the Infantry Captains Career Course will have:

* Demonstrated the ability to think critically;

* Demonstrated adaptability and flexibility in solving problems, including tactical problems;

* Demonstrated the ability to communicate in a way that is thoroughly understood and inspires confidence in subordinates;

* Demonstrated mastery of the "science" of tactical planning at company through battalion/task force level, and thorough understanding at BCT level;

* Practiced in the "art" of tactical planning; and

* Demonstrated an understanding of critical training and leader functions of company commander.

Desired Outcomes with their

Associated Measures of Effectiveness

Desired Outcome: Demonstrated ability to think critically

Measures of Effectiveness: A graduate:

* Can summarize a situation briefly and simply, but thoroughly, in his own words;

* Uses logic, observed facts, and past experience to isolate critical factors and focus on them;

* Articulates how the factors in a situation have interacted in the past, and are likely to affect each other in a given course of action;

* Makes sound decisions using logical reasoning and evidence, and not just emotion or others' reasoning;

* Makes reasonable decisions in the absence of complete information and under time pressure;

* Is able to describe the strengths and limitations of doctrinal concepts;

* Does nothing without being able to articulate why he is doing it.

Desired Outcome: Demonstrated adaptability and flexibility in solving problems, including tactical problems

Measures of effectiveness: A graduate:

* Consistently succeeds despite conditions and requirements that change in the middle of solving a problem;

* Keeps a clear head, rapidly assesses the changed situation, and identifies impacts on the plan;

* Identifies critical shortages in resources and information and either resolves the problem or works around it;

* Develops doctrinally correct solutions that are not limited to "approved solutions;"

* Uses all available tools, not just the standard tactical ones;

* Develops plans that include built-in provisions for changed circumstances;

* Not so detailed and synchronized that commander is forced to "fight the plan;"

* Unexpected enemy action or unforeseen circumstances do not result in having to completely jettison the plan and "ad lib;"

* Accounts for the longer-term consequences of short-term tactical actions;

* Improvises while accounting for consequences of deviating from the plan;

* Takes "good enough" action now, rather than much better action later.

Desired Outcome: Demonstrated ability to communicate in a way that is thoroughly understood and inspires confidence in subordinates

Measures of Effectiveness: A graduate:

* Briefs concepts and orders that are understood and able to be implemented by:

** Staff Sergeants unfamiliar with the plan (company phase);

** Lieutenants unfamiliar with the plan (Bn/BCT phase);

* Conveys confidence in himself and his plan;

* Uses graphic aids to add to the audience's understanding and does not allow them to distract from the points being conveyed;

* Answers questions concisely and uses them to his advantage;

* Writes in accordance with the Army Writing Style, so that his writing:

** Can be understood in a single, rapid reading;

** Conveys all the essential information pertinent to the topic;

** Presents the bottom line up front; and

** Uses graphic control measures correctly and neatly

Desired Outcome: Demonstrated mastery of the science of tactical planning at company through battalion/task force level, and thorough understanding at BCT level

Measures of Effectiveness: A graduate:

* Knows and follows the troop leading procedures, develops and sticks to timeline;

* Correctly articulates essential doctrinal concepts;

* Produces orders that are doctrinally correct;

* Correctly describes the significant capabilities and limitations of all units and major systems in a BCT;

* Is able to use the Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield process to produce necessary products;

* Employs all available units within their capabilities and limitations;

* Builds maneuver plans that are feasible, account for all available units' capabilities, and are executable by real soldiers;

* Employs fire support correctly and doctrinally;

* Plans engineering support correctly and doctrinally;

* Integrates logistical support into maneuver plans correctly;

* Integrates prudent force protection measures into plan;

* Correctly plans the movement and employment of command elements;

* Synchronizes essential elements of combat power at key points of the battle.

Desired Outcome: Practiced in the "art" of tactical planning

Measures of Effectiveness: A graduate:

* Writes mission statements, commander's intent, and concept statements that, taken together:

** Correctly identify and focus on the key elements in the situation;

** Are consistent and easily understood;

** Could stand alone and result in probable success;

** Create plans that are simple, flexible, and executable;

** Identify and focus on exploiting enemy vulnerabilities and maximizing friendly strengths;

** Incorporate key civil considerations into maneuver plans.

* Creates plans designed to set conditions for subsequent operations;

* Accounts for longer-term consequences of short-term tactical actions;

* Uses all units correctly and advantageously;

* Prefers sub-optimal but flexible courses of action to optimal ones that will likely fail in changed circumstances;

* Coordinates subordinates' activities without over-reliance on commander's decision points or central control;

* Ties control measures to tangible, visible terrain features.

Desired Outcome: Demonstrated understanding of critical training and leader functions of company commander

Measures of Effectiveness: A graduate:

* Understands the critical aspects of running a successful Family Readiness Group;

* Can explain correctly the key points of the training management system at company and battalion level;

* Can produce satisfactory and executable company training schedules;

* Can write and brief a satisfactory battalion quarterly training plan;

* Understands 350-1 training requirements;

* Can develop and lead a successful company fitness program, including combatives;

* Understands the legal considerations of combat operations;

* Understands key legal requirements and constraints of a company commander in garrison and in the field, and knows where to go for help;

* Has thought about and can articulate the importance of establishing a positive command climate, and techniques for doing so;

* Understands key administrative functions of a company commander, including supply accountability, maintenance, and personnel evaluations;

* Understands maintenance management and property accountability systems.

Photo by Technical Sergeant John M. Foster, USAF

Colonel Casey Haskins is the director of Combined Arms and Tactics at the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1982 and was commissioned as an Infantry lieutenant. He has served in a variety of light, heavy, and special operations command and staff assignments in the United States, Germany, Bosnia, and Iraq, most recently as chief of plans for Multinational Force-Iraq and chief of staff of the Iraqi Assistance Group. He is scheduled to take command of the Infantry Training Brigade at Fort Benning in July 2006.
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Author:Haskins, Casey P.
Publication:Infantry Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2006
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