Maj. Orlandon Howard | Combined Arms Center Public Affairs
The command team at the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth hosted a hybrid workforce town hall Nov. 19 to discuss command priorities and efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Lt. Gen. James Rainey, CAC and Fort Leavenworth commanding general, and CAC Command Sgt. Major Eric Dostie limited the in-person gathering to 30 people at the Lewis and Clark Center because of COVID. However, the town hall was streamed on Microsoft Teams to more than 1,100 participants.
Rainey began the town hall by urging every member of his team to take maximum precautions to prevent the spread of COVID.
“COVID is going the wrong direction. We’re in the process of a nationwide spike,” Rainey said. “What I need everyone’s help with, is how we behave off-post. If you’re off-post, I hope it’s mission essential, and if it’s not safe, you need to move out of there. If you go somewhere where people are not wearing masks, you’re putting the whole team at risk.”
Rainey also discussed his strategy to reduce the risks of spread on the installation.
“We’ve been doing well here at Fort Leavenworth but I’m inclined to crank it back down,” he said. “I’d rather be accused of over-reacting than to be accused of contributing to the loss of life.”
He outlined several measures, such as on-post schools moving to virtual platforms for the remainder of the calendar year, and also encouraging leaders to look at reducing their in-office workforce to the minimum needed to maintain mission essential operations.
Rainey said the measures would be officially published and everyone should work with their chain of command for specific guidance.
“I’ve delegated workforce management down to senior leaders in our subordinate organizations because there’s not one cookie-cutter approach and I trust them,” he said.
Rainey then shifted gears to highlight the command’s enduring priorities.
“We have to get everyone working on the important stuff,” Rainey said. “The CAC enterprise, all 80,000 of us, basically do two things — build leaders and drive change.”
The two elements he highlighted represent CAC’s major lines of effort that have several initiatives under each.
Under the “build leaders” line of effort, Rainey said, “we’re focusing on assessments, which is a lot of the work the Center for Army Profession and Leadership is leading.”
CAC’s assessment efforts involve external and self-administered evaluations that aim to help increase self-awareness and support leader development programs.
“We’re also re-doing the command preparation program. We get our hands on every battalion and brigade commander and command sergeant major in the Army, so if you want to drive change, that’s a superpower,” Rainey said.
Rainey said he also sees increasing student collaboration as important. He said he wants students in every course in every center of excellence across the nation to be able to collaborate with each other in class.
“The fact that we had to go virtual helped,” he said. “COVID will go away, but virtual is here to stay.”
Under the “drive change” line of effort, Rainey said, “we’re doing a lot of work on large scale combat operations to drive that.
“We also have to take the concept of multi-domain operations and translate the ‘so what’ for company, troop and battery leadership.”
MDO is the Army’s most recent warfighting concept, developed to enable the Army to address the myriad threats and challenges it expects to face in the future.
Rainey discussed one of CAC’s major supporting initiatives he called Waypoint 2028, which is helping the Army ready itself for MDO.
“Waypoint 2028 is about us figuring out what we need the Army to look like in 2028 based on how we’re going to fight,” he said. “It’s a waypoint to where the Army’s trying to go in 2035.”
Before taking questions, Rainey shared some closing thoughts.
“I absolutely believe we have the people, talent, money and time to be excellent at the stuff we want to be excellent at,” he said. “My job as the leader is to make sure we’re massing time, talent and people on priorities.”