Each of the Services has concept development and experimentation activities focused on its core competencies, with activities organized to explore capability improvements in the near-, mid- and far-term. They also have established battlelabs that bring warfighters and technologists together to work on key areas of warfighting.
Innovative and rigorous Service and joint concept development and experimentation are central to the Department's efforts to achieve dramatic military transformation. In order to be prepared for the challenges of the future, DoD must learn systematically from real-world operations, as well as from experiments using wargames, computer-assisted simulations, and field trials that simulate future operational capabilities. History shows it has often been disastrous defeat on the battlefield that prompted a military organization to change. A vigorous program of concept development and experimentation pitting future U.S. forces against simulated skilled, determined opponents allows the Department to create the needed stimulus for change. The opponents portrayed in these experiments must be innovative and effective. The expectation is that US vulnerabilities can be discovered through such exercises and corrected before a future opponent can find and exploit such weaknesses in war.
In 1996, then Army Chief of Staff, GEN Dennis J. Reimer, began the Army After Next (AAN) project. AAN was the process to inform the Army leadership of future warfare. It examined the future operating environments and recommended solutions across the Doctrine, Training, Leader Development, Organization, Materiel, and Soldiers (DTLOMS).
In the first years of its existence, the Army After Next (AAN) series was arguably the most ambitious and imaginative of all the service games. A supporting document for these games, "The History of the Future," was a useful way of establishing the game's scenario. Set 20 years in the future to divorce it from budget issues, AAN investigated the worth of significantly smaller units with vastly improved mobility and firepower. The equivalent, perhaps, of employing supersonic aircraft in wargames of the 1930s, this visionary thrust was well ahead of evolving Army doctrine, and understandably met opposition from the senior Army leadership.
The Army After Next (AAN) Wargames were reengineered to the Army Transformation Wargame series. The AAN Study Project operated from FY96 to FY99 with the mission to "conduct broad studies of warfare to about the year 2025, frame issues vital to the development of the US Army after about 2010, and provide issues to senior Army leadership in a format suitable for integration into TRADOC combat development programs."
In the summer and fall of 1999, General Eric Shinseki ushered in Army Transformation. This effort differed from AAN in several significant respects. First, it was a decision to change the Army, not just study the possibility of change. Second, Army Transformation was directed from the top as a priority Army effort involving the entire Army staff and numerous major commands, rather than a study led from outside the Pentagon. Third, Army Transformation was governed by The Army Vision and an evolving Transformation Campaign Plan. The Objective Force challenges were addressed in a series of Army Transformation Wargames (ATWG) which began in 2000. The AAN game series switched to Army Transformation Wargames as part of the larger context of TRADOC's support to Army Transformation.
In October 1999, the Department of the Army published "Soldiers on Point for the Nation.Persuasive in Peace, Invincible in War." 1 This document provided the Army with a vision for the 21st century. AAN was changed to support the new "Army Vision." In 2001, the White Paper, "Concepts of the Objective Force," 2 refined "the Army Vision." The Objective Force, our future Army, is to be a full spectrum force, designed to "see first, understand first, act first, and finish decisively."
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