Train to Win

Train to Win

The following is an excerpt from US Army Field Manual 7-0, Train to Win in a Complex World. The US military is an aggressive colonial force that commits war crimes regularly, is the largest polluter on the planet, and is an occupying force both on U.S. indigenous land and overseas. But as Ovid reminds us, Fas est et ab hoste doceri — It is right to learn, even from the enemy.

Train to Win in a Complex World

FM 7-0

The Army trains to win in a complex world. To fight and win in a chaotic, ambiguous, and complex environment, the Army trains to provide forces ready to conduct unified land operations. The Army does this by conducting tough, realistic, and challenging training. Unit and individual training occurs all the time—at home station, at combat training centers, and while deployed.

Army forces face threats that will manifest themselves in combinations of conventional and irregular forces, including insurgents, terrorists, and criminals. Some threats will have access to sophisticated technologies such as night vision systems, unmanned systems (aerial and ground), and weapons of mass destruction. Some threats will merge cyberspace and electronic warfare capabilities to operate from disparate locations. Additionally, they may hide among the people or in complex terrain to thwart the Army’s conventional combat overmatch. Adding to this complexity is continued urbanization and the threat’s access to social media. This complex environment will therefore require future Soldiers to train to perform at the highest levels possible.

Training is the most important thing the Army does to prepare for operations. Training is the cornerstone of readiness. Readiness determines our Nation’s ability to fight and win in a complex global environment. To achieve a high degree of readiness, the Army trains in the most efficient and effective manner possible. Realistic training with limited time and resources demands that commanders focus their unit training efforts to maximize training proficiency.


Units execute effective individual and collective training based on the Army’s principles of training. See ADRP 7-0 for a discussion of each of these principles:

  • Train as you fight.
  • Training is commander driven.
  • Training is led by trained officers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs).
  • Train to standard.
  • Train using appropriate doctrine.
  • Training is protected.
  • Training is resourced.
  • Train to sustain.
  • Train to maintain.
  • Training is multiechelon and combined arms.


Proficiency in individual, leader, and collective tasks is measured against published standards. Proficiency is recognized as complete task proficiency, advanced task proficiency, basic task proficiency, limited task proficiency, and cannot perform the task.


The proficiency ratings are as follows:

  • T is fully trained (complete task proficiency).
  • T- is trained (advanced task proficiency).
  • P is practiced (basic task proficiency).
  • P- is marginally practiced (limited task proficiency).
  • U is untrained (cannot perform the task).

T (Fully Trained)

A T proficiency rating means a unit is fully trained. It has attained task proficiency to the Army standard, achieved a GO in 90% or more of both performance measures and leader performance measures, and has met 100% of all critical performance measures. The task is externally evaluated and meets the remaining requirements as outlined in the training and evaluation outline (T&EO) in accordance with the objective task evaluation criteria matrix. (See appendix B for a detailed explanation of the objective task evaluation criteria matrix.)

T- (Trained)

A T- proficiency rating means a unit is trained. It has attained advanced task proficiency free of significant shortcomings, achieved a GO in 80% or more of both performance measures and leader performance measures, and has met 100% of all critical performance measures. The unit’s shortcomings require minimal training to meet the Army standard. The task is externally evaluated and meets the remaining requirements as outlined in the T&EO in accordance with the objective task evaluation criteria matrix.

P (Practiced)

A P proficiency rating means a unit is practiced. It has attained basic task proficiency with shortcomings, achieved a GO in 65% or more of all performance measures, achieved 80% or more of all leader performance measures, and has met 100% of all critical performance measures. The unit’s shortcomings require significant training to meet the Army standard. The task is not externally evaluated and meets the remaining requirements as outlined in the T&EO in accordance with the objective task evaluation criteria matrix.

P- (Marginally Practiced)

A P- proficiency rating means a unit is marginally practiced. It has attained limited task proficiency with major shortcomings, achieved a GO in 51% or more of all performance measures, achieved less than 80% of all leader performance measures, and has met less than 100% of all critical performance measures. The unit’s shortcomings require complete retraining of the task to achieve the Army standard. The task is not externally evaluated and does not meet the remaining requirements as outlined in the T&EO in accordance with the objective task evaluation criteria matrix.

U (Untrained)

A U proficiency rating means a unit is untrained. The unit cannot perform the task. It achieved a GO in less than 51% of all performance measures, less than 80% in all leader performance measures, and less than 100% in all critical performance measures. The unit requires complete training on the task to achieve the Army standard.”


A unit’s training readiness is directly tied to its training proficiency. That proficiency naturally fluctuates over time and in response to various factors. Each unit encounters and adjusts to these factors, including training frequency, key personnel turnover, new equipment fielding, and resource constraints. Well-trained units seek to minimize significant variances in achieved training proficiency over time. This is training in a band of excellence. This common sense approach precludes deep valleys in proficiency that occur when units lose their training proficiency. Failing to sustain proficiency requires more resources and time to retrain the unit. Training within a band of excellence is the key to sustaining long-range training readiness. See figure 1-1.

Effective commanders take the unit from a training start point, attain the required training proficiency, and maintain that proficiency over time. Once training proficiency is attained, the unit strives to maintain that proficiency within a band of excellence. The commander who understands factors that negatively affect training proficiency can better plan so that unit training skills do not atrophy to a less than acceptable level.

To adjust to the anticipated highs and lows of training proficiency, commanders continually assess training plans and strategies to keep the unit mission-ready over long periods. This assessment may cover individual memory degradation, skill degradation, unit personnel turnover, changes in crew assignments, and changes in key leadership. Maintaining high levels of proficiency may prove more difficult than building proficiency from a training start point. By understanding and predicting the factors that affect training proficiency, commanders can mitigate those effects and maintain higher levels of training readiness longer.


A top-down/bottom-up approach to training reflects a team effort with commanders and their subordinate leaders. Commanders provide top-down guidance in the training focus, direction, and resources while subordinate leaders provide feedback on unit task proficiency, identify needed training resources, and execute training to standard. This team effort helps maintain training focus, establishes training priorities, and enables effective communication between command echelons. See figure 1-2 on page 1-4.

Training guidance flows from the top down and results in subordinate units’ identification of specific collective and individual tasks that support the higher unit’s mission. Subordinates provide bottom-up feedback. This input from the bottom up identifies the current state of training proficiency for collective and individual tasks at lower echelons. This input helps the commander objectively determine unit training readiness.


Mission command is the exercise of authority and direction by the commander using mission orders to enable disciplined initiative within the commander’s intent to empower agile and adaptive leaders in the conduct of unified land operations (ADP 6-0). As the Army’s philosophy of command, mission command emphasizes that command is essentially a human endeavor. Successful commanders understand that their leadership directs the development of teams and helps establish mutual trust and shared understanding throughout the force. Commanders provide clear guidance that directs subordinates’ actions while promoting freedom of action and initiative.

Subordinates, by understanding the commander’s guidance and the overall common objective, can adapt to rapidly changing situations and exploit fleeting opportunities. They are given the latitude to accomplish assigned tasks in a manner that best fits the situation. Commanders influence the situation and provide direction and guidance while synchronizing operations. Likewise, subordinates understand they have an obligation to act and synchronize their actions with the rest of the force. Commanders encourage subordinates to take action, accept prudent risks to create opportunity, and seize the initiative.

To exercise mission command successfully during operations, leaders in units understand, foster, and frequently practice the principles of mission command during training. Using these principles during training enables subordinates to overcome obstacles. The principles of mission command apply to all levels of command.

Commanders aggressively train to overcome institutional obstacles that the Army’s operational pace and personnel turbulence present. These obstacles can include frequent deployments of an organization comprised of units that have not trained together, personnel turbulence caused by operational commitments, and constrained financial resources. In particular, training creates common and shared experiences that increase trust and allow commands to acquire competence in mutual understanding. This training builds teams who can communicate explicitly and implicitly, conduct decentralized operations, and achieve unity of effort in uncertain situations. (For more information on mission command, see ADP 6-0 and ADRP 6-0.)


All unit leaders are responsible for quality training. Primary roles involve training subordinate leaders and developing teams. Leaders consist of commanders, NCOs, and unit leaders.


Successful leaders build cohesive organizations with a strong chain of command, high ésprit de corps, and good discipline. As the unit trains, leaders mentor, guide, listen to, and think with subordinates to challenge their subordinates’ depth of knowledge and understanding. These actions build trust among Soldiers and between Soldiers and their leaders. Commanders ensure that their subordinates know how to think instead of what to think. They develop their subordinates’ confidence and empower them to make independent, situational-based decisions. Effective commanders develop subordinates with agile and adaptive approaches to problem solving that more easily translate to operations.

Effective Army leaders develop others and conduct team building. Holistic leader development plans contribute to unit cohesion, resilience, and agility by producing teams and leaders that are creative, life-long learners, adaptable, fully committed to the Army profession, and capable of exercising mission command.


Teamwork is the essence of how the Army operates. The Army trains confident and proficient individual Soldiers but employs them as teams that work together to meet every mission requirement and to overcome every obstacle. Whether training as a team of two Soldiers or as a large combined arms team, developing and encouraging teamwork in training sets the foundation for operating when deployed. Commanders instill and encourage teamwork as training is planned, prepared, executed, and assessed.

Teams and teamwork are as essential to unit training as they are to successful operations. Teams occur at every echelon and level of Army organizations. Teamwork begins with two Soldiers training together, progresses as they train on simple collective tasks, and evolves as they sustain their training on more complex collective tasks. A team is more effective than an individual is at achieving results. When Soldiers work together, they use their unique skills, experiences, and capabilities together to achieve task proficiency.

The mission command philosophy helps to set the conditions for training and developing cohesive and effective teams. Building a shared understanding among team members is the first step in developing a team. It gives the team a unifying and focused purpose. In a team-focused climate, members understand the reason for each action, the capabilities of each member of the team, and each members’ contributions effects on the overall success of the organization.


In addition to the unit commander’s activities—understand, visualize, describe, direct, lead, and assess—in training, commanders at all echelons fulfill their role in unit training with their continuous attention, physical presence, and energy to—

  • Develop and communicate a clear vision.
  • Personally engage in training.
  • Demand that training standards are achieved.
  • Foster a positive training culture.
  • Limit training distracters.
  • Enforce a top-down/bottom-up approach to training.

See ADRP 7-0 for more on the commander’s activities in training.

Develop and Communicate a Clear Vision

Published training guidance provides the vision, direction, purpose, and motivation necessary to prepare individuals and organizations to win. It is based on a comprehensive understanding of—

  • Task proficiencies to attain—the what to train.
  • Commander’s guidance.
  • Operational environments.
  • Organizational and personnel strengths and weaknesses.
  • The training environment.

Personally Engage in Training

Commanders are engaged in every aspect of training. Commanders are physically present to the maximum extent possible during the planning for and execution of training. As stewards of the Army Profession, they effectively resource training and protect subordinates’ training time. They create a sense of stability throughout the organization by protecting approved training plans from training distracters. Commanders are responsible for executing the approved training to standard. Effective commanders provide timely, valuable feedback to all participants.

Demand Training Standards Be Achieved

Leaders anticipate that units may not perform some tasks to standard. When designing the training calendar, leaders allow time during training events for additional training for those tasks not performed to standard. It is better to train to standard on a limited number of tasks rather than attempt and fail to achieve the standard on too many tasks. Soldiers will remember the enforced standard, not the one that leaders discussed. Leaders cannot assume that time will be available to train to standard next time. Rationalizing that corrective action will occur during some later training period sets units up for failure rather than success. See appendix B for more information on task standards.

Foster a Positive Training Culture

Commanders create a training culture that listens to and rewards subordinates who are bold and innovative leaders and trainers. Commanders challenge the organization and each individual to train to their full potential. Such a challenge fosters a training culture so that organizations and individuals strive to not just attain task standards but to attain higher levels of task mastery.

Limit Training Distracters

Commanders plan and resource training events while limiting potential distractions. They ensure participation by the maximum number of Soldiers. Although commanders cannot ignore administrative support burdens, commanders can manage those burdens using an effective time management system. Additionally, commanders must support subordinates’ efforts to train effectively by managing training distracters and reinforcing the requirement for all assigned personnel to be present during training.

Featured image by Cloudaoc, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.

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