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Unified Quest 04

Unified Quest is the Army's main wargaming effort - the most far-reaching among the country's military services. Unified Quest, co-sponsored by the Army and US Joint Forces Command, is an annual year-long series of simulations, experiments, and seminars focused on military transformation. The Unified Quest War Game is the capstone event for the series and the Army's ongoing Future Warfare Studies Program. Unified Quest 2004 (UQ 04) was a US Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) and Army cosponsored wargame played at the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks 1-7 May 2004.

The exercise presented high-ranking military officials from the United States and 13 other countries, US Army War College students and civilian groups with several international crises. Participants this year were approximately five hundred national and international military officers and representatives of other governmental and non-governmental agencies, including forty-two active and retired flag officers and Senior Executive Service personnel. Along with the other U.S. service branches and commands, players also came from the armies of 13 foreign countries - Spain, Britain, France, Germany, and Turkey, for example - and representatives of universities, other government agencies such as the U.S. State Department and non-governmental organizations like Doctors Without Borders. This group came together to explore and examine multiple aspects of operational and tactical warfare in the second decade of the twenty-first century.

The game was set in the year 2016 with a major combat operation in a fictional middle-eastern country and a smaller contingency in a mythical country set in the real-world area of Indonesia. America is forced to act when a fictional Middle Eastern country known as "Nair" is discovered to be within 30 days of achieving the technology to deliver nuclear weapons to the continental United States. Simultaneously, the United States is called upon to intervene when an insurgency group known as the "New Independent Movement" threatens the stability of the fictional country "Sumesia" in southeast Asia. Both scenarios pose unique challenges to Joint and international forces, pushing the U.S. military to its limits said. UQ 04 began with what Blue believed was the culmination of major combat operations in both theaters and the beginning of the transition to post-conflict operations.

For the second consecutive year, the game's focus was on the joint capabilities of war fighting. Unified Quest 2004 extended last year's Unified Quest 2003 scenario to permit continued learning and insights into the requirements for and capabilities of future stability and support operations and transitions from military to civil control. It also included integration of selected issues from recent real-world operations, experimentation with distributed participation of a Joint and Interagency Coordination Group, and increased participation of multinational players. This year's game continued a global scenario that began two years ago, but with more emphasis on stabilization operations.

The Unified Quest 2004 Operations Workshop, in some ways a "dress rehearsal" for the War Game, began over the weekend, 17-18 April, with player registration and information briefing rehearsals. Players planned and executed game moves Monday thru Thursday noon, and the Operations Workshop concluded on Friday, 23 April 2004, with executive-level outbriefs in the main conference room of Collins Hall. The majority of participants then departed, returning to Carlisle Barracks on Saturday, 1 May, for the Unified Quest 2004 War Game. On Sunday, 2 May 2004, a plenary welcoming session with remarks by Major General David H. Huntoon, Commandant of the War College; General Byrnes, Commanding General of the Training and Doctrine Command; and Admiral Giambastini, Combatant Commander of Joint Forces Command, initiated the week-long Unified Quest 2004 War Game.

War Game analytical activities continued 3-7 May 2004 at the Collins Center with detailed assessments based upon the activities of the opposing Blue and Red player cells involved in different near simultaneous crises in both the southwest Pacific and the Caspian Sea regions (as well as Homeland Defense/Security issues in U.S. territory).

UQ 04 examined and assessed joint and future force capabilities in a number of crises in a future global environment. It examined major combat operations, stability operations, transition to postconflict, and the network-centric battle command. To satisfy the objectives established for the game, UQ 04 was structured around four panels (Case A, B, C, and D). Case A was a Blue and Red Study group composed primarily of Army War College and Command and General Staff College students who focused at the tactical level. The three remaining panels consisted of Red, Blue, and Assessment Teams. Case C and D focused at the theater level, while Case B focused at the tactical level. Cases A, B, and C fought in Nair (a fictitious country in the Middle East), while Case D fought in Sumesia (a fictitious country in the Pacific).

Rather than working independently, the military's branches as well as non-governmental organizations and information operations are working jointly to solve future combat and stability problems. In 2003 the Army War College hosted the first Joint wargame co-sponsored by TRADOC and JFCOM. Since then Joint wargames have become more common as the military continues to emphasize Jointness and interoperability.

In part, Unified Quest was intended to preclude interoperability problems. Transforming the military to consider interoperations upfront is a major breakthrough for the Department of Defense. Each service has grown up independently. In a post-Cold War environment, the military experienced a greater need for information-sharing among branches and a certain degree of transparency. Retired Vice Adm. Lyle Bien experienced the need for such Joint solutions as he acted as the joint task force commander for the Sumesia scenario.

Operating among the islands of southeast Asia, the Army had a hard time using its traditional, large-unit, land-based tactics, Bien explained. Insurgents can easily cut military supply routes between islands. Using the available technology of 2015, a possible solution is "sea basing" of the Army, using ships while operating jointly to maneuver and resupply from the sea without creating an "intermarine" force. The Army is not used to operating and moving in small units. This is largely an experimental issue in 2004. Games like this can shed some light on possible future capabilities.

Other issues of interest during the game included the use of a futuristic heavy lift vertical takeoff and landing (HLVTOL) aircraft, joint sea basing to support forces ashore, and humanitarian assistance while heavily involved in stability operations. The HLVTOL was used extensively in the Sumesia theater to move Blue ground forces and sustainment back and forth from an intermediate staging base and a sea base to various operational areas throughout the theater.

Joint sea basing played a key role in the Sumesia theater where the campaign was executed in an island setting involving simultaneous maneuver and operations in an area the size of the United States. As played in the game, the sea base included aircraft carriers, big-deck amphibious assault ships, and prepositioning ships. Blue ground forces moved back and forth from the sea base to operational areas and were sustained from it using tactical sealift vessels (TSV) and HLTVOLs. Air Force involvement for this scenario was minimal-mainly consisting of strategic airlift of combat forces and sustainment into a main theater aerial port of debarkation for onward movement to the sea base by TSV and HLVTOL. Other than possible munitions support from an Air Force prepositioning ship, there were no Air Force operational units that were being supported or sustained by the sea base in the Sumesia theater.

As retired Army Lt. Gen. Don Holder prepares to besiege the fictional capital city of Nair, he is faced with the challenges of urban warfare in 2015. While American and coalition forces have domination over the airspace and enhanced satellite and spy capabilities, the "enemy" is using civilians and their homes as shields.

Every block and every window is important battlespace. Since the coalition had taken control of the airspace, Nair forces used civilians to mask military movements. For example, to move two units, Nair soldiers marched through the capital city mixed with children as part of a parade. Nair troops also were "embedded" in the city, "hiding in plain sight." As Western technology and intelligence improves, enemies look for new types of warfare to gain an advantage, he explained.

In addition to supporting Unified Quest 2004 throughout the week, the War College also provided Dr. Doug Johnson and his transformation elective resident students to form the core of the Unified Quest 2004 "CASE A" player cell. Utilizing the Caspian Sea region scenario, this planning team cell explored the employment of proposed future concepts by current and emerging Army organizations, such as the "modular" brigade combat teams being formed by the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

This wargame also focused on transition and stability operations, components that increasingly are mixed with major combat. "Embedded reporters" and civilian organizations such as Doctors Without Borders also are considered part of the mix. Officials involved in the eighth annual transformation wargame at Carlisle Barracks hoped their efforts to envision future battlefields will lead to technologies and strategies to counter future enemies. Many of the situations addressed made their way through military channels and point to future strategies.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:36:07 Zulu