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NEWS | June 27, 2023

JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Soldiers celebrate 50 years of TRADOC

By Erin Perez U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellenc

This week, U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence Soldiers on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston are joining Soldiers on Army posts around the nation to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC, on July 1, 1973.

TRADOC is responsible for recruiting, training and educating Soldiers, developing adaptive leaders, developing doctrine, and shaping the Army into the world’s premier land force. The celebration includes tours of the Army Medical Department Museum, and a commemorative ceremony and anniversary run hosted by the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence on Friday, June 30th.

In the early 1970s, the Army faced the twin challenges of ending the Vietnam War and moving from the draft to an all-volunteer force. The military’s popularity was low and the Army’s equipment and infrastructure were outdated.

The Army responded by taking a hard look at everything from how it was organized, to the doctrine it employed, and how it recruited and trained young men and women, turning them into Soldiers.

It started by breaking up Continental Army Command, which had been responsible both for active Army units and all the schools and training centers operated by the Army in the United States since 1955. In its place, the Army created separate organizations for overseeing warfighting units and training organizations, U.S. Army Forces Command, or FORSCOM, and TRADOC.

As part of that reorganization, the Army also created U.S. Army Health Services Command, the forerunner of today’s U.S. Army Medical Command, and the Academy of Health Sciences, one of the largest medical training institutions in the world. Over the past 50 years, the Academy of Health Sciences has gone through a number of changes and is now the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence (MEDCoE). Both MEDCOM and MEDCoE are headquartered at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.

TRADOC took charge of large parts of the plan to rebuild the Army, emphasizing the Army’s mission to deter the Soviet Union in Europe and, if necessary, being ready to fight as part of a coalition of nations.

It began by improving training for newly enlisted and more experienced Soldiers and leaders. The direction of training was determined by new doctrine, developed by TRADOC, and new organizational designs that would enable the Army to employ that doctrine on the battlefield.

At the same time, the Army was engaged in its most significant modernization effort in decades, developing the “Big Five” weapons systems: the Abrams tank, Bradley fighting vehicle, Apache attack helicopter, Blackhawk utility helicopter, and Patriot Air Defense System.

In August 1982, TRADOC introduced a new conceptual framework for how the Army would fight wars in the future that incorporated the increased capabilities of these weapons. The new doctrine, known as AirLand Battle, emphasized cooperation between the Army and the Air Force — engaging the enemy not just at the point where the combatants met, but far into the enemy’s rear area. Although never used in a fight with the Soviets, AirLand Battle was the Army’s doctrine during Operation Desert Storm which enabled the defeat of the world’s fourth-largest army in three days.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the strength of the Army was cut by one-third. At the same time, emerging technologies promised enhanced capabilities that would offset the reduction in manpower.

The first iteration of TRADOC’s new organization for the Army, Force XXI, explored linking vehicles and command posts on the battlefield digitally and creating systems of systems. This was followed in 2000 by Army Transformation, which created a smaller, lighter, more agile and more deployable Army. This was the Army that would fight the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan following 9/11.

Today, TRADOC continues to innovate as the Army returns to a focus on Great Power competition and preparedness for large scale combat operations. The Army’s new doctrine, Multi-Domain Operations, builds on the successes of AirLand Battle and incorporates doctrine joint and coalition warfare in the domains of land, air, sea, space, and cyber.

The Army’s Medical Center of Excellence joined TRADOC in 2019, but their relationship with TRADOC goes back to the very beginning.

As the proponent for the Army’s training and education programs, TRADOC and the MEDCoE have always operated in an area of shared interest and TRADOC’s standards for training Soldiers have defined how the MEDCoE prepares medical Soldiers to join the force.

The formal joining of the two organizations has only enhanced this relationship and ensures that the MEDCoE is thoroughly integrated into the Army’s overall plan for building the Army of 2030 and beyond, while we continue to build and maintain the world’s preeminent land force.