ARLINGTON: Finding $2.4 billion for new infantry equipment was just the start for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s Close Combat Lethality Task Force. Now they’re taking on the hard part: getting the military to stop wasting the troops’ time.
PowerPoint briefings on personal hygiene, guard duty at base gates, shuffling troops from unit to unit and base to base every few years — all these things take away from building tight-knit teams and training them for combat. The goal, in brief, is to purge bad habits left over from the draft era, when conscripts were treated as free labor and infantrymen, in particular, as unskilled grunts. Instead, the military should treat Army and Marine infantry like fighter pilots, as highly skilled professionals.
Speaking Wednesday at the Association of the US Army, undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness Robert Wilkie pointed out six problems the task force wants to fix, any of which would be a major effort on its own:
- End death by PowerPoint: Over the years, well-meaning bureaucrats have layered on one training requirement after another — briefings on everything from highway safety to personal hygiene– that it cuts into training for actual combat. Wilkie, a reservist, estimated he spends 4.5 days of his 14-day annual training on such briefs.