Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wants the military to get back to the art of fighting wars and do realistic training and stop wasting time on what he termed “senseless exercises.” Mattis came to this conclusion after hearing complaints of thousands of service members.

Many service members said that too much of their time is spent covering mandatory training that has nothing to do with their warfighting capabilities.

The training that is the subject of complaints covers everything from alcohol use to active shooters to sexual harassment to stress management.

Addressing the service secretaries and chiefs of the Armed Forces, Mattis has ordered the formation of a new working group to “determine changes to military personnel policies” to “equip more ready and lethal forces.” The working group will include the second in command of each branch of the U.S. military and report to the deputy secretary of defense and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The secretary wants each service to examine its military education to “regain a concentration on the art and science of warfighting” and look into the hours of “mandatory force training that does not directly support core tasks” such as flying jets, jumping out of planes, and hundreds of other U.S. military missions essential to defending the United States and its allies.

One official with knowledge of the discussions surrounding the memo told Fox News, “servicemembers spending too much time on senseless training that is really a waste of time.”  One U.S. military officer said there is “too much sexual harassment training” and not enough time spent at places like the shooting range, for example.

Mattis: Get unnecessary training off warfighters’ backs

Read Next: Mattis: Get unnecessary training off warfighters’ backs

Last year, Fox News traveled to Ellsworth Air Force Base where numerous B-1B bomber pilots said that in addition to planning and flying training missions that can take over 12 hours at a time, they spend “countless hours” on mandatory training they view as unnecessary.

Currently, only about half the Air Force’s fleet of long-range B-1B bombers are fully mission capable.

Mattis also wants the working group to look into “hiring practices for the [DoD] civilian workforce,” which some senior military officers have complained has become too large in recent years despite Obama-era cuts involving tens of thousands of uniformed service members.

“There are more civilians working for the Pentagon than there are uniformed troops in the Navy and Air Force combined,” Katherine McIntire Peters, deputy editor of Government Executive Media Group, wrote in a recent op-ed.  Peters put the Defense Department’s civilian work force at 770,000.

Mattis also wants to overhaul and improve the counter-intelligence capability of the military as well. He has given a deadline for recommendations no later than December 1.

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Photo courtesy DOD