Largest Military Experiment to Test Transformation Theories
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 18, 2002 -- Combat is the wrong place to find out your theories of warfare don't work.
The U.S. Joint Forces Command is about to test U.S. military transformation theories by conducting the largest, most complex military experiment in history. Called Millennium Challenge 2002, the experiment will combine live forces with simulation to test the theories, equipment and doctrine U.S. forces will use.
The experiment will use 13,500 people stretched across the United States in nine live force-training locations and 17 simulation locations, said Army Gen. William "Buck" Kernan, commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va. It will use 50 models and simulation systems to test U.S. military effectiveness, he said in a Pentagon briefing July 18.
The experiment starts July 24 and will run through Aug. 15. Joint Forces Command and the services have been planning two years for the experiment. The Defense Department and Congress will use Millennium Challenge data to judge the effectiveness of the force and progress in transforming the military to meet the threats of the 21st century.
Kernan said Millennium Challenge will help determine the extent to which U.S. forces are able to establish and maintain knowledge superiority. It will also test the military's ability to assure access to and throughout the battlespace, to leverage all national elements of power and to sustain deployed forces as they conduct operations.
He stressed the experiment will cover the full range of military operations. Millennium Challenge 2002's scenario takes place in 2007. An adversary has the potential to escalate a high-end, small-scale regional conflict into a major theater war. Most of the live action will occur on U.S. training ranges in the Southwest.
The experiment will test four strategic concepts: effects-based operations, operational net assessment, standing joint task force headquarters and the joint interagency coordination group, he said.
The bottom line, Kernan continued, is that the U.S. military and other government agencies should "know as much about our adversary as possible -- more than he knows about himself -- no matter who that adversary may be." This knowledge would allow the United States to shut down an adversary quickly and effectively with the least amount of damage and loss of life, he said.
"We are developing a force capable of attacking multiple targets from many different angles," he said. "(Adversaries will know) that we will have the will and the ability to operate more rapidly and decisively than we've ever had before."
Joint task force commander of the experiment is Lt. Gen. B.B. Bell, commander of the Army's III Corps at Fort Hood, Texas. The XVIII Airborne Corps of Fort Bragg, N.C., was to have been the joint task force, but it is serving in Afghanistan. Kernan said Bell and his staff geared up for the experiment in just two weeks thanks to Joint Forces Command's standing joint task force headquarters -- an expert team that maintains a kind of "shadow headquarters" for such contingencies.
Kernan said the experiment would test the U.S. government's ability to be "proactive in any crisis and not just react after the fact." The inclusion of officials from the State and Energy departments, the CIA and the U.S. Agency for International Development, he said, is recognition that the United States and its allies may not be able to react to attacks solely with military power.
"We need to be smarter and quicker, use our guile, and leverage information technology to get inside the enemy's decision process and affect the operation," he said.
Kernan said Millennium Challenge is solely a U.S. experiment, but some information will be shared with allies.
"It's important we go down the same track on modernization," he said. "We may be moving faster than others, but nonetheless if we can prescribe the standards and protocols ahead of time, we can ensure (allied) interoperability in tomorrow's battlespace. We don't want to compartmentalize the battlefield any more. We want to blur some of those lines."
He stressed Millennium Challenge is an experiment, and he therefore expects some things being tested will fail. But he expects most will work.
He said that if the experiment points to breakthroughs in technology, processes or doctrine, then results will be shared with combatant commanders immediately. He said the after-action review will also be quick. The report to Congress will be ready in the fall, said Joint Forces Command officials.
"The world is a very unfriendly place in many respects," Kernan said. "There are an awful lot of people out there who are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to deny us our way of life. But we have more asymmetrical capabilities than they've got threats. We just got to use them differently.