* When Gen. David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, took the helm of the service earlier this year, he laid out a number of priorities that he would focus on during his tenure. These included force design; warfighting; core values; command and leadership; and education and training.
For officials at Training and Education Command, a renewed focus on training is a welcomed message, said Maj. Gen. William F. Mullen, commanding general ofTECOM.
"For a lot of good reasons, previous commandants have made Training and Education Command a bill payer for...what they deemed to be more important areas," he told National Defense. While that was understandable due to tight budgets, it led to the command being "kind of like second fiddle."
There is now anticipation that the tide is turning, Mullen said. TECOM officials have had discussions with Berger and have presented him with information needed to recover from the past decade of "being the bill payer in both personnel and resources," he said.
However, it will take billions of dollars to make up for past budget cuts, he noted.
"More importantly, it's the personnel we've lost--both civilian personnel and Marine personnel over the years due to people being pulled... [and] put on other efforts," he said. "That's really caused some challenges throughout the training and education continuum."
This renewed focus comes as the Marine Corps is seeking to take training into the 21 st century, and particularly as it faces new threats in the future, Mullen said.
"When we look at our training and education system,... we had a very industrial age process of producing Marines," he said. "It's efficient for pushing through a lot of people at big numbers--which is what we need--but we also know it's the least effective way to teach adults and help them to understand and retain."
As the service looks to present day challenges, which include gray zone operations--or conflict below the threshold of conventional armed warfare--it cannot afford to have Marines "sit there and wait to be told what to do," Mullen said. "We need to have folks that can think on their feet, understand intent [and] take intelligent action without waiting to be told what to do in a very complex environment."
Future warfighting environments will be different than what most Marines have experienced during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, he noted.
"It was fairly sedentary," he said. "The threat was fairly predictable, not a whole lot of...