Gen. Mark Milley answers questions at his confirmation hearing to be Chief of Staff of the Army at the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 21, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Gen. Mark Milley answers questions at his confirmation hearing to be Chief of Staff of the Army at the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 21, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke

US Army’s New Chief Sets Three Goals

Readiness, modernizing the force, and taking care of soldiers — and that means more time practicing complex scenarios.

The week before Gen. Mark Milley became the U.S. Army’s chief of staff, he spent a few days at the National Training Center, a sprawling complex in the California desert where brigades and divisions practice complicated wartime scenarios — the kind of expensive training that soldiers get all too rarely these days.

Through night-vision goggles, Milley — then the head of Army Forces Command — watched as Special Forces and conventional soldiers fast-roped out of Air Force CV-22 Ospreys. Others stormed out the back of MC-130 airlifters. And more than 500 parachuted in from C-17s. It was  a complicated mission, designed to replicate a scenario soldiers might face in Eastern Europe, Syria, Iran, North Korea or even China.

Later, in a white tent just off the mock battlefield, the witty, Ivy-League educated Milley talked about how soldiers haven’t received this type of training regularly in the decade-plus it has been fighting counterinsurgency battles in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Dave, Dave, Dave,” Milley called out to Gen. David Perkins, the head of Army Training and Doctrine Command, who was chatting with another soldier about 10 feet away. In 2003 as the brigade commander for the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), Perkins led the unit’s “Thunder Run” into Baghdad, earning the Silver Star.

“How many times did you come here,” Milley barked at the fellow four-star, meaning: before you led troops into Baghdad?

Many times, Perkins replied.

Getting soldiers more regular training like this is among Milley’s top priorities now as chief of staff.

“There is a possibility that we could deploy significant combat forces someplace on the earth’s surface and engage in conflict,” Milley said Wednesday at a Foreign Affairs event at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

Milley has set three priorities as chief: readiness, modernization of the force, and taking care of soldiers. He stressed preparedness in an essay published in the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2015 “Green Book.”

Thousands of Army soldiers are deployed to Afghanistan and thousands more find themselves back in Iraq. Others are deploying to Eastern Europe for training with NATO forces and other countries neighboring Russia.

“The days of state-on-state combat war may or may not be over,” Milley said. “I am on the side of that I don’t think those days are over. I wish they were.”

“It’s possible, that you could have to fight terrorists of one stripe or another at the same time that you’re fighting one or another state,” he added.

Countries like Russia and China are modernizing their militaries. And the velocity of instability seems to be increasing, Milley said.

While much has been made over the past four years about how the Air Force and Navy would do the heavy lifting during a battle in the Asia-Pacific, Milley says not to count the Army out.

“I think the Army has a unique role, which I’m just coming to realize here in the last few years, in the Pacific,” he said.

There are already nearly 100,000 soldiers in the region, he said, mostly on the Korean peninsula.

“If a conflict were to erupt … I believe the opening shots would be from the Navy and the Air Force,” Milley said. “I think the last shots would be from the guys on the ground, the Marines and the Army. I believe that decision in war is done on the ground.”

And the Army needs new, modern equipment to fight future battles.

“I’ve asked that we explore some significant technological change in what might be possible in the area of lethality,” he said.

Milley pointed to the Navy’s use of railguns and lasers. “Is there a ground application?” he asked pondering their use possibly for Army’s air defense mission?

Forces have to be “strategically mobile to be projected” and must be equipped with the latest communication equipment.

Accountability & Empowerment

The general believes there are too many cooks in the kitchen and it needs to decentralize by empowering its officers throughout the ranks. If soldiers screw up, they should be held accountable.

“That’s how the military should operate,” Milley said. “Decentralize. Empower.”

“Set a standard for them,” he said. “If you meet the standard. Green light, go. Pin the medal. Get promoted. If you fail, you’re out.”

He is also a fan of the service chiefs playing a larger role in determining requirements and overseeing acquisition projects.

“Put us in charge of this stuff. Let us take a swing at the bat, because it hasn’t been working,” he said. “And make us accountable.  If we fail, fire us. Take us out of the game. Go to the next one.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has drafted legislation that would give the service chiefs more power in program acquisition, a move that has been widely debated as lawmakers reviewed the 2016 defense authorization bill.

And Milley is a fan of the military chain of command paying a great role. He pointed to acquisition successes in the Navy’s nuclear propulsion division and within U.S. Special Operations Command.

“Why shouldn’t the service chiefs be accountable and responsible for the equipment that’s going to the soldiers for which they are leading?” he said. “It just makes common sense to me. Am I an acquisition expert? No. Am I a businessman? No, not at all. I’m a general and I’m in charge of the United States Army.”

And Milley believes the service chiefs needs to play a greater role in requirements too.

“I believe the service chiefs need to be put in charge of that. Right now they’re not,” he said.

“You got to elbow your way in. It’s not like you’re really the person.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.