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Leaders discuss mission at annual conference

The three-day Infantry Warfighting Conference wrapped up Sept. 15, after a day filled with speakers like Training and Doctrine Command’s LTG Mark Hertling, deputy commanding general for Initial Military Training, who spoke about training changes for the generational force.

COL Craig Collier, with the Office of the Secretary of Defense Operational Test and Evaluation, spoke about measurements for success in Iraq, and brigade combat team leaders spoke about full spectrum operations in theater. COL Collier said he gained knowledge from the conference.

“I learned a lot from the other speakers,” he said. “I know Iraq, but I’m not familiar with Afghanistan.”

During the second day, former assistant commandant for the Infantry School, MG Michael Linnington, now the deputy chief of staff for plans and projects with the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, discussed the mission, including its three enemies — corruption within the Afghan government, ISAF policies that isolate the locals and insurgents.

MG Linnington said 317 Soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in 2009, and more than 330 already this year. June, July and August were the three deadliest months on record for U.S. and ISAF troops.

For SFC Ronald Goldback, a medic, the conference was an opportunity to discuss the prototype of an armored medical evacuation vehicle. With room to treat two patients, a modular medical equipment system, oxygen concentrator, heart monitors and suction capabilities, the vehicle is designed to extend the golden hour of treatment, patient stabilization and evacuation to the next level of care, he said.

MG Mike Scaparrotti, who spoke about the combined joint task force perspective in Afghanistan, said there was a common theme throughout the conference.

“This Army is about people. It is about the Soldier and the leader and the covenant between the leader and the led,” MG Scaparrotti said, as he told a story about running into a Soldier in a remote combat outpost in the Hindu Kush. The Soldier was 10 years old when 9/11 happened, and was “in a tough spot, wise beyond his years, dedicated, volunteered to come when he knew there was a fight.

“Our Soldiers, while very lethal, are much more compassionate. They are compassionate in a second when they need to be on the battlefield. People know that, the children in Afghanistan know that, and they follow our Soldiers,” MG Scaparrotti said. “The Army is about people, about that young private you run into in the dark of night who will go where we as leaders want him to go and do what we tell him to do. And we have a commitment to do it well.”