On Monday, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command will celebrate its 40th year of developing, educating and adapting Soldiers and leaders into the force that we know today. As a way to celebrate the occasion, let’s hop into our time machine and take a trip down memory lane.
TRADOC was established in 1973 with a simple mission: To ready Army Soldiers for war. Like today, the goals were to recruit, train and shape the Army into a force that dominates the battlefield. So throw on your bell bottoms, button up that polyester shirt and drop the needle on your favorite Earth, Wind and Fire record as you get the skinny on the Army and culture, then and now. Can you dig it?
Training then and now
According to the recently published 40-year history of TRADOC, what we now know as the Training and Doctrine Command began as a small part of a much larger organization – the Continental Army Command, or CONARC. CONARC was responsible for all Army training centers, schools and doctrine until it was decided that its span was too large for a single headquarters. Under the initiation of Operation STEADFAST and the leadership of Gen. William DePuy, TRADOC was born.
Jim Rose, who currently works as an initial entry training analyst at TRADOC’s Initial Military Training, has a unique perspective on the changes in training new Soldiers. He joined the Army in 1978 and became a drill sergeant in the mid-’80s.
“Back then, basic training was [simply] teaching a Soldier how to be a Soldier … how to walk, how to march, how to clean, how to fire a weapon … to adapt to their new assignments, Rose said. “It was nothing more than you gotta take that civilian and get them into a military type of mind. They had to learn to crawl, then walk, then run.
“But when we went to war [in the Middle East], we had to start teaching them more combat skills … and that’s when we added Warrior Task and Battle Drills.”
Although TRADOC has made advances in basic training throughout the years, according to Rose, one thing that has remained the same is the role of the drill sergeant.
“I don’t really see too much of a difference,” he said. “The hours are still the same; the training is still the same. The requirements have increased, but the job is still teaching Soldiers how to be Soldiers.”
So what else has changed since TRADOC was born?
Fashion then and now
Edwin Starr asked, “War, huh, yeah! What is it good for?” In 1973, it was for wearing groovy uniforms well equipped for the jungles of Vietnam. Fashioned in olive green shade 107, slanted pockets across the chest and white tees underneath, Army attire was right on. Nametags and rank insignias were worn to be more subdued, and enlisted personnel wore their rank insignias on the points of their collars. The polyester and cotton, durable press utility uniform remained until it was replaced by the battle dress uniform, or BDU, in the mid-1980s.
Now Soldiers wear the Army combat uniform, or ACU, which was established as the combat and garrison uniform in June 2004. The color scheme was changed to the new gray, tan and sage digital pattern and the coats were designed to be single-breasted for better upper body mobility. Nametags and the U.S. Army tape went from sewn placement to Velcro, and both officers and enlisted rank insignias migrated to a hook-and-loop patch at the center of the coat. The Army even added a handy-dandy three-slot pencil pocket and more Velcro for convenience.
In 1970s fashion, the go-to, “night on the town” outfit included plenty of polyester, platform shoes and that androgynous hipster chic look that earned you a front row seat at Studio 54. Today, fashion has come full circle as designers have adopted trends from just about every era. The top selling styles include anywhere from Vans chukka boots, to high-wasted American Apparel hot pants, to a real-life vintage Halston dress discovered at a local thrift store.
Technology then and now
In April 3, 1973, Motorola’s Martin Cooper made the world’s first mobile phone call to rival company, AT&T. In the 1970s, touch-tone phones were the new wave, replacing the rotary phones many people used at home. It was also more common for people to slip into a phone booth to make a call. Anybody got a dime?
Today, cell phone manufacturers have largely removed buttons all together. More than 80 percent of Americans use a cell phone with a touch-screen to do a lot more than just talking to each other. Smartphones and other mobile devices are helping to train and inform today’s Soldiers through interactive applications, or apps. Soldiers can now use their cell phones to help them with things such as a reference for uniform regulations or achieving their physical fitness goals.
The 1970s also marked an important time for TRADOC and technological advancement. The Multiple Laser Engagement System, or MILES, revolutionized collective training in the Army by incorporating lasers and blank cartridges to simulate force-on-force field training exercises. Since then, TRADOC has been responsible for the development of countless training aids and devices.
Money then and now
In order for Soldiers to get down with all that far-out technology, they had to bring in some serious cash-flow. In 1973, the monthly pay for an E-1 was $307.20. That may not sound like much, but it came in handy when gas prices averaged only 30 cents a gallon.
In 2013, an E-1 earns $1,500 a month, but he has to pay around $3.55 a gallon to fill up his gas tank.
Entertainment then and now
Even at a fraction of today’s pay, Soldiers made enough bread to catch a flick at the theater. They could hop in their Oldsmobile Cutlass and head to the drive-in to check out the number-one film, “Enter the Dragon,” starring Bruce Lee. In the summer of 2013, you may find a Soldier riding around in his environmentally friendly, hybrid vehicle on his way to see a 3-D film at an Imax theater.
If a Soldier was just home from the war, he could have been considered one bad “mamma jamma,” as described in the Jim Croce 1973 hit, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.” He was “badder than ole King Kong and meaner than a junkyard dog.” But in 2013, the music mix comes with a party vibe like in Mackelmore’s summer hit, “Can’t Hold Us.”
Sports then and now
While TRADOC was setting up its roots at Fort Monroe, Va., Virginia native Al Bumbry was finishing his time as a platoon leader in Vietnam. Bumbry earned a Bronze Star for his time in service, and in 1973, he went on to play outfielder for the Baltimore Orioles. He played 14 major league seasons and was inducted in to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.
1973 was also the last Super Bowl victory for the Miami Dolphins. In 2013, the Baltimore Ravens pulled their win against the San Francisco 49ers.
The more things change …
Although the fashion and technology of the times will keep on a’changin’, one thing will stay the same. From the leadership of Gen. William DePuy, TRADOC’s first commanding general, to Gen. Robert Cone, the command’s 14th and current leader, the command will continue to develop Army leaders and shape the future force through training and doctrine.