Cover: Adapting the Army's Training and Leader Development Programs for Future Challenges

Adapting the Army's Training and Leader Development Programs for Future Challenges

Published Jan 10, 2013

by James C. Crowley, Michael G. Shanley, Jeff Rothenberg, Jerry M. Sollinger


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Research Questions

  1. With resource constraints and an increasing range of tasks and skills at which soldiers, leaders, and units must be proficient, what are the best ways to adapt strategies and programs to more efficiently train them?
  2. Since the Army Training and Leader Development (ATLD) management processes were developed to support incremental change, what are some of the fundamental changes that are needed?

The Army's operational requirements have expanded since the start of the 21st century. Its forces must be prepared to react to a wide range of potential missions, ranging from peacekeeping to high-intensity conflict, and these complex preparation activities must be accomplished even while a significant proportion of its structure is deployed and operationally engaged. Complicating force preparation is the consideration that Army budgets are facing large reductions and efficiency is of increasing importance. This new environment generates a need for major changes to the Army's programs for training units and developing leaders. RAND Arroyo Center undertook research designed to support Army efforts in these areas by examining the Army's processes for managing its training and leader development programs. This examination concluded that current processes are not set up for making major, integrated changes across the range of training and leader development programs and that these processes need major change. Especially important is the lack of a true businesslike approach for making resource allocation decisions that achieve the best possible overall readiness benefit. Based on this examination, specific directions for improving training and leader development management processes are developed and presented. This report should be of interest to those involved in designing Army training and leader development strategies and those involved in the process of providing resources for their implementation.

Key Findings

Increasingly Constrained Resources and a Wider Range of Possible Missions Mean That Army Training and Leader Development (ATLD) Strategies and Activities Need Major Change

  • The Army is now entering an era in which it must be prepared to face a far wider range of possible missions and conditions than was the case in baseline periods or, more recently, when the focus has been on counterinsurgency and stability operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This situation widens and complicates training and leader development activities, which must change as well.
  • The changes must be made within available ATLD program resources. Changes will be needed across a wide range of training and leader development activities to meet a different balance of critical tasks, skills, and conditions. In a period of no-growth or declining budgets, increases in one area will inevitably require decreases in others, requiring many hard decisions.

Current ATLD Management Processes Are Not Conducive to Major Change

  • Current management processes were developed to sustain and make incremental improvements to successful, well-understood, and generally stable ATLD strategies. As a result, the current ATLD management processes are not conducive to major change.
  • There are no systemic processes in place to integrate training and leader development strategies and programs for overall readiness benefit.

The Army Faces a Number of Barriers to Improving the ATLD Management Processes

  • The Army's process for managing ATLD resources defines programs in a way that makes it difficult to manage major shifts in resources to support changing requirements.
  • A lack of activity cost data coupled with the general lack of objective activity benefit data results in management processes that do not give managers the capability to effectively allocate ATLD resources. This also makes it hard for the ATLD community to defend its legitimate resource needs.


  • A greatly improved overall analysis process should be developed to support effective adaptation of the Army Training and Leader Development (ATLD) system programs' capability to efficiently support changing requirements.
  • Because the data to inform such a process either do not exist or are not easily accessible, current data-collection efforts should be improved to take advantage of ongoing efforts and to expand them over time.
  • A single, permanent staff organization should be formed from current staff resources to provide data and analysis support for ATLD strategy development and program management.
  • Current IT architecture should be improved to provide better support to ATLD analytical processes.
  • Stronger cross-program visibility is needed, and the Army should modify current program management mechanisms to enable management by primary training activity.
  • The strategic management architecture should be revised to support unit readiness processes more effectively, to more effectively involve U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) and other unit-owning commands in ATLD decision processes, and to achieve a better balance across ATLD programs.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the RAND Arroyo Center.

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