Twitter Facebook Google RSS

‘Millennium Challenge’ Will Test U.S. Military Jointness 


by Roxana Tiron 

The ability of the U.S. military services to blend into a seamless force and act decisively against a sophisticated enemy will be tested in a large-scale experiment next summer, called the Millennium Challenge.

The Millennium Challenge 2002, or MC’02, is sponsored by the U.S. Joint Forces Command, based in Norfolk, Va. JFCOM was created for the sole purpose of developing joint-warfare doctrine and organizational principles. The Pentagon requested $100 million in fiscal year 2002 to pay for joint experimentation efforts. That is almost a 100 percent increase from fiscal year 2001. Another $50 million was requested to pay for deployable joint command-and-control technologies.

For the MC’02 experiment to be successful, “the services are going to do 95 percent of the heavy-lifting,” said Army Maj. Gen. Dean Cash, director of JFCOM’s joint experimentation office. Cash is aware that the services are protective of their resources, so he does not want JFCOM’s efforts to be perceived as a drain on any service’s budget, he said. “There is a finite set of dollars, and we cannot be seen as a competitor for resources,” said Cash.

Cash spoke with National Defense during a briefing to industry in Suffolk, Va., co-sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association Hampton Roads Chapter.

The military services have been quite supportive of JFCOM, said Cash. “Each service has a set of core competencies, so really what we are looking at is how you can optimize those at a joint level,” he said. “Up until now, each service was held accountable to develop its own joint context, because there is no one there accountable to develop that joint context. The JFCOM will do that now.”

For JFCOM officials, the MC’02 will be the first major opportunity to test many of the notional concepts and theories that so far have only existed on viewgraphs.

During MC’02, “we will turn [the concepts] over to live forces and really assess the ability with which we can conduct a rapid, decisive operation as early as this decade,” said David Ozolek, deputy director of joint experimentation at JFCOM.

The Millennium Challenge will take place from July 18 to August 9, 2002, primarily at Western training and testing ranges.

The planned scenarios focus on “anti-access,” operations, in which U.S. forces have to deploy in areas where the enemy, for example, is trying to deny them access by blocking seaports and airfields, said Army Lt. Col. James D. Lee, a targeting and intelligence planner for MC’02. The enemy will be a “formidable adversary that has a high-end capability and a numerically superior force,” he said.

The enemy will control the entry points into Los Angeles and San Diego. “We are providing the opportunity for an Army commander on the ground—through technology advances—to communicate directly to an air force commander that would provide on-call air support when the army commander on the ground is under unexpected set of pressure,” Lee explained.

All participants in MC’02 should have interoperable communications equipment. “I don’t really care if you are using a Compaq Intel or an IBM, as long as you can operate on the net,” noted Cash. “We are not telling the services what hardware and what software they should have, as long as it is interoperable on the joint net.” However, Cash said, he expects that there will be problems with simple things like connectivity and black boxes. He also predicts that the lack of standardized tactics, techniques and procedures will present some obstacles.

Cash said he wanted to set realistic goals for the development of “joint war fighters.” The Army says it takes 17 years to grow a battalion commander, he said. It could take that long to develop officers who can master joint warfare.

“When Zorro goes to a sword fight, everybody has the same sword, but Zorro always wins the fight,” Ozolek said. “Why does that happen? It’s not because of the technology, but because Zorro has a better understanding of the sword, better understanding of the conditions. ... And that is what we are trying to do here on a grander level.”

“We have to work backward to determine what changes we need to make to put us in that position,” Ozolek added.

Ozolek explained that, in the past, a joint operation meant a staff headquarters overseeing individual service components. “We fought not as a joint campaign, but as a maritime campaign and a ground campaign and we tried to bring those together with some sort of unifying intent, but they really were independent efforts, only marginally related to each other,” he said. “That won’t work in the future, because it is too easy in this century to overcome any one-dimensional solution, even a combination of one-dimensional solutions.”

In Ozolek’s opinion, joint warfare should be about the “de-confliction” of individual service efforts. “The joint force headquarters element is supposed to be the element that brings in the operational net assessment—the super in-depth knowledge of an enemy,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Buck Shawhan, who is in charge of the Joint Experimentation Millennium Challenge plans and operations.

Experiments such as Millennium Challenge are designed to explore concepts such as the common relevant operational picture (CROP). “If everyone has the same picture of what is going on, it makes it far more intuitive for the commanders to make decisions,” said Shawhan. Navy Capt. Justin Sherin described CROP as a virtual warehouse that links to all the information required by the war fighters. From this virtual warehouse, decision-makers will tailor information displays that are relevant to their needs.

JFCOM officials envision a future force with smaller command-and-control headquarters and more widespread use of information technology. Therefore, said Sherin, planning and execution will transition from a serial hierarchical process to a more parallel process. Collaboration will shorten planning cycles, he said, and make it easier to plan missions on short notice.

During Unified Vision ‘01, a recently completed experimental simulation, advanced technologies—that U.S. commanders are most concerned about—were provided to the enemy, said Ozolek. “We took things that are only in development today and gave them the right capabilities that we imagined would be available in 2007,” he said.

The experiment used a scenario that created a major regional power and gave it the set-up capabilities that are available to any regional power that would be making investments in buying them. “First, it invested very heavily in anti-access capabilities so the threat that we portrayed had the ability to attack our bases and employ weapons of mass destruction,” said Ozolek. “The second part of the threat strategy, if we were establishing ourselves in the theater and commencing operations, it attempted to pull us into a war of attrition to make it a very casualty-intensive environment.”

Developing a doctrine and organization to offset the enemy’s asymmetrical advantages proved to be a challenging problem, said Ozolek. “We are not organized today to do that.”

  Bookmark and Share