Long-distance training scenario plans for contingencies

16 Jul 2002 | Sgt. Andrew D. Pomykal

"These past months -- have shown that innovative doctrine and high-tech weaponry can shape and then dominate an unconventional conflict," said President George W. Bush.

Since the tragedies of Sept. 11, both corporate and industrial America's most cerebral thinkers have been reorganizing and revamping strategy.

To that end, more than 13,500 U.S. military and civilian personnel will participate in Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02), a joint warfighting experiment scheduled for July 24 through Aug. 15.

"With 900 of our Marines participating, this joint service exercise will help us gain insight into the ability of a joint force and (serve as an) aid to meet the expectations of our forces, civilian leaders and public with regard to military transformation," said Portland's Maj. Michael J. Finley, the II Marine Expeditionary Force exercise coordinator.

This training will incorporate 17 simulation sites and involve live forces at nine training and testing ranges throughout the United States. The hub for the computer simulations will be the Joint Warfighting Center's Joint Training Analysis and Simulation center in Suffolk, Va., and distributed to facilities across the country.

The scenario for this evolution will simulate a military threat set in 2007 -- a small-scale contingency with the potential to escalate to a major war. The scenario is based on realistic data and is classified.

The $250 million congressionally mandated event is designed to simulate a realistic battlefield to assess the interoperability of new methods to plan, organize and fight.

The U.S. Joint Forces Command-sponsored experiment incorporates elements of all military services, U.S. Special Operations Command, most functional/regional commands, and various Department of Defense and federal agencies.

"This is precisely what transformation is about. A revolution in military affairs is about more than building new, high-tech weapons -- it's also about new ways of thinking and new ways of fighting," said Defense Secretary Rumsfeld recently.

The experiment will be the culmination of more than two years of concept development that test key joint concepts -- threat assessment, military capabilities and rapid decision making -- and will explore ways to use information superiority against adversaries before conflict starts.

"Warfare is changing and we must change with it. MC02 is a tangible example of change within the Department of Defense," said one Joint Forces Command official.

How will this help transform the military? By testing concepts allowing military commanders to make better decisions and leveraging United States information superiority, MC02 helps support DoD's six key transformation goals: protect homeland and forces overseas, project and sustain power in distant theaters, deny enemy sanctuary, protect U.S. information networks from attack, use information technology to link up U.S. forces enabling joint warfare, and maintain unhindered access to space and protect U.S. space capabilities from enemy attack.

What do military leaders expect to learn from MC02?

"We expect MC02 will bring recommendations for transformational changes to enhance joint warfighting capability -- many without major materiel adjustments -- enabling us to save lives and maximize our limited resource," said an exercise coordinator.

"MC02 gives our Marines the opportunity to help develop the joint doctrine that we'll fight with in the future.  II MEF Marines have been very engaged and have had a tremendous amount of input into improving these new ideas. We want to be on the crest of this new wave in warfighting, not on the back," said Maj. Michael A. Kies, II MEF training exercise planner. "For II MEF, MC02 is truly a joint service exercise. We have more than one hundred Army augments participating with our staff and making invaluable contributions."

"Both the simulated and live events are aimed at furthering the Corp's capstone concept of expeditionary maneuver warfare as we refine how we will conduct operations within the complex environment of this new century," said Finley. "II MEF's mission is 'When directed, the JFLCC conducts rapid decisive operations employing assigned forces and capabilities to achieve desired mental, moral, and physical effects on, and in order to defeat, the enemy center of gravity.'" 

The expectation is that the lessons learned from MC02 will mirror those garnered from operations in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm, both of which used joint force operations and conducted in a "real" environment.

"An important lesson from Desert Storm is that we will probably never again have the luxury of building an overwhelming mass-on-mass force in the adversary's backyard," said another Joint Forces Command official. "In Afghanistan, we've seen positive results of joint tactical actions enabled by interoperability and cutting edge technologies.  We are beginning to see the promise of many of the new warfighting concepts we have been working on, but have yet to have a comprehensive field test from which we can analyze, assess and form specific transformational concepts.  Millennium Challenge 2002 will provide important lessons on how to build toward a national defense based on full national capabilities, not just specific weapons systems."

"For the MEF, we're using some of the computerized tools of the future. For example, the Global Command & Control System, the newest version of Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System and several other advanced systems for planning, operations and logistics," said Kies of Long Beach, Calif. "It's important to be connected digitally to other units, regardless of what service they belong to, because that is how we'll fight in the future."

For additional information on the event, contact the USJFCOM public affairs office at (757) 836-6555.