General David Perkins Interview With Gabrielle Reilly

Four Star General David G. Perkins served as the Commander of the United States Army Training and Doctrine after serving as the Commander of the Combined Arms Center (CAC) in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  General Petraeus, General Caldwell and General Caslen served as the Commander of CAC before him in this strategically critical post that has earned a highly respected reputation as the “brain” of the Army.

Lt. Gen. Perkins discusses global detractors, his daughter’s Army service and his vision for both his post and the evolution of the Army.  It is an honor to welcome Lt. Gen. Perkins not only to The Global Townhall.

 

Gabrielle Reilly:  “Americans don’t like giving out money to help people, but when it’s to kill people, that’s a different matter…” anonymous.  I deal with comments like this from many people as I travel the world, particularly talking on anti-American radio shows in Europe.   I believe it is important to respond to this view considering the more the world hates America, the more terrorists are recruited, the more conflicts arise creating a vicious cycle of instability and war.  What would your response be to these types of comments?

Lt. Gen. David Perkins:  We will always have detractors around the world, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that the Army, and the Department of Defense as a whole, does much more than bring lethal force to a situation.  From earthquake responses in Haiti and Pakistan to hostage rescue from pirates in and off the coast of Somalia, our missions abroad are consistently conducted to save lives.  Our job here at the Combined Arms Center is to ensure our leaders are properly educated and our forces are sufficiently trained to conduct operations across the spectrum of conflict, from major shooting wars to disaster relief here at home and abroad.

 

Gabrielle Reilly:   I know your predecessor at CAC, Lt. Gen. Caslen had a son serving in Iraq (in fact I was choked up talking to Mrs. Caslen about an attack on him,) and I believe you also have a daughter serving.  What does she do and where is she serving?   How do you feel about her being in harm’s way?

Lt. Gen. David Perkins:  My daughter is a captain and an Army aviator. She has been deployed to Afghanistan for the last year out of Fort Campbell, Ky.  Of course, as a parent I am concerned for her safety, but I am incredibly proud of my daughter and her decision to serve.  She is due to return back to the States in the coming weeks, and we’re looking forward to having our first full-family reunion in about half a decade.

 

Gabrielle Reilly:   How is the Army changing to adapt to the 21st Century?

Lt. Gen. David Perkins:  The evolution of the Army over the past decade, and where we are headed as we look to the Army 2020, has been one focused on adaptability and modernizing our forces to flatten organizations.  As we look forward, most threats that will involve the application of land force will entail continued decentralization of our power and authorities – a concept we call Mission Command.  This philosophy proposes that decision-making should be focused on and by the commander – that he/she uses all resources to create an understanding of the problem, provide a vision and intent to address the problem, and empower subordinates to achieve those objectives.  In order to conduct Mission Command the Army requires 3 primary elements from the Combined Arms Center;

1) Challenging leader development and education systems focused on developing leaders capable of the critical reasoning and creative thinking skills necessary to understand and act in an ambiguous and changing environment.

2) Realistic and focused training that enhances one of the most experienced forces in our history, while preparing them for future threats; at a cost that is both able to ensure readiness and is sustainable in a fiscally-challenged environment.

3) Integration of appropriate technological solutions to support both realistic training and the full use of Mission Command across our formations.  We are actively addressing each of these areas daily.   Gabrielle Reilly:   As you assume role as commander of the Combined Arms Center and the Command and General Staff College, what is your main priorities and focus?   What is your overall role in the military? Lt. Gen. David Perkins:  Having only been on the ground here at Fort Leavenworth for a few months, I am still developing a refined vision for the Combined Arms Center and the Command and General Staff College.  However, as we enter this historic inflection point that includes the conclusion of two major conflicts and a shrinking budget, we must ensure the preparation and readiness of a smaller, more flexible force.  Here at the Intellectual Center of the Army, tasked with improving leader development and training support for our entire Army, that will take the form of more concise and readable doctrine (to include the rewriting of core doctrine like the recently released ADP 3-0, Unified Land Operations and the current effort on FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency) and a more selective and rigorous professional military education system for all ranks (beginning with the Captain’s Career Courses and Major’s level Intermediate Level Education).  These are not the only issues important to the Army 2020, but a large part of what we will be working in the near future.   Gabrielle Reilly:   What is the restructuring plan for the transition from Iraq and Afghanistan?  What will the soldiers be assigned to now? Lt. Gen. David Perkins:  The Army has spent significant time and energy ensuring the shrinking end strength of the Army does not affect overall quality and readiness of the force.  The Department of the Army and Training and Doctrine Command continue to flesh out how that looks in overall force structure.  We here at the Combined Arms Center will support the final structure through thoughtful and concise doctrine, improved leader development programs, and the appropriate individual and collective training to ensure the Army’s readiness.   Gabrielle Reilly: Thanks very much for your time Gen. Perkins.  I look forward to hearing you speak at the Business Executives for National Security dinner.

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An Australian-American social entrepreneur, who brings a network of global leaders and influencers together from around the world… for the greater good of mankind.  Gabrielle founded The Global Townhall to help provide great visions for people’s lives from successful people who have created massive accomplishments themselves, like Buzz Aldrin, who walked on the moon…  Accomplishments first start as ideas so why not learn from the world’s grandest thinkers?

An Australian-American social entrepreneur, who brings a network of global leaders and influencers together from around the world… for the greater good of mankind.  Gabrielle founded The Global Townhall to help provide great visions for people’s lives from successful people who have created massive accomplishments themselves, like Buzz Aldrin, who walked on the moon…  Accomplishments first start as ideas so why not learn from the world’s grandest thinkers?