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Small Arms COE delivers search engine for the information age war fighter

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 2005512103959
Story by Cpl. J. Agg

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (May 12, 2005) -- The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory Wargaming Division has unveiled a totally revamped Small Wars Center of Excellence, a critical online resource for the expeditionary war fighter in the information age.

With a massive small wars-oriented search engine as its centerpiece, the Small Wars Center of Excellence prepares service members, both forward-deployed and in garrison, for today’s expeditionary warfare. The utility of the Small Wars COE is found in its network of programs and informational resources including cultural intelligence seminars and conferences, academic papers, after action reports, lessons learned, and key insights and observations from current operations. These combined resources provide a forum of information for understanding the history, nature and challenges presented by the Marine Corps’ involvement in small wars, exploring innovative small wars tactics, techniques and procedures and evaluating small wars policy, strategy, doctrine and key programs.

From its infancy as the Operations Other Than War Center of Excellence in 1999, when it provided limited information by request only, the Small Wars COE has exploded into the most hit research link for small wars on the Google search engine today, and is a major planning tool for small wars events. The Small Wars COE continues to expand with near real-time contributions from service members in the fight, and in the past three months alone has added more than 100 student papers and research documents, 170-plus small wars links each with multiple files, another 600 research links for regional country studies and about 40 cultural intelligence briefs.

Frank Jordan III, director, Wargaming Division, said the recent revival of the Small Wars COE has generated a great deal of interest within Training and Education Command in the study of the various aspects of the small war including combat operations, security and stabilization operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

“One of the important pieces that goes along with this reenergized Web site is that we have established a much tighter and more extensive relationship with the schools,” said Jordan. “Command and Staff College, Expeditionary Warfighting School, Infantry Officers Course, Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy and all the major schools now have decided to take a new look and refocus on small wars, counter insurgency, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.”

Maj. Adam Strickland, Wargaming Division ground action officer, said the program is peerless in its cross-service and international coverage of the small wars scene.

“This is something we do that others don’t do. Most sites that are out there are specific to the Army, Air Force or Marine Corps lessons learned. (With the Small Wars COE) you get different perspectives -- a slice of everybody. If it’s applicable to what we’re doing and it helps fight the fight and understand the process of small wars, then it’s all up there,” said Strickland. “What we tried to do was create an internal Google for operating units, and I’m not going to say Marine operating units – operating units period: Army, Marine Corps and a lot of our NATO and allied partners.”

Strickland said that unlike Web-based search engines, the Small Wars COE is carefully filtered to provide only the information most pertinent and applicable to the profession of arms in a small wars environment.

“These (resources) are vetted. Not just anything gets thrown up there. If it’s on this site it means we have read through it and decided that yes, it meets the criteria for what is important to Marines and service members,” said Strickland. “They don’t have to be lessons learned, they could just be observations and insights. It could be a squad leader saying, ‘When I was in Ramadi this was the biggest problem I had with my Marines.’ Is that a lesson learned? No, but it’s a damned good observation that other people should look at.”

Strickland said the Small Wars COE is especially useful as a communication tool to pass best practices from combat veterans to those who follow.

“We have collected all these after action reports, lessons learned and other documents so that if you are getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan, Iraq or even South America, you can go on this site and come up with documents by others who have gone before you so you’re not going to have to reinvent the wheel,” said Strickland. “Once the word gets out, this is something every Marine should be focusing on. If you want to research small wars, counter insurgency, humanitarian assistance operations, disaster relief or whatever, it’s going to be referenced on here. Being everything to everybody, this is becoming the site to go to.”

Shelly Amundson, information management officer, Wargaming Division, said that while most of the Small Wars COE is password protected to limit access to military service members and government employees, access might be granted in some cases to others within two business days of the request.

“On the public side of the Web site, there are a lot of resources available, but the meat of the Web site – these after action reports, cultural intelligence reports, and the search engine itself are all in the password protected side,” said Amundson. “We get a lot of academic interest in this Web site and we deal with that on a case-by-case basis, generally giving them access to information that will help them with their research.”


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