A tabletop war game at Quantico Marine Base for the first time examined the
details of how Marines and special operations units could fight as a combined
The drill, in late November, was called Expeditionary Warrior, and was part
of a wide-ranging war game called Title 10, designed to showcase a military
service’s capabilities to carry out its statutory responsibilities. The
Army, Navy and Air Force each conducts its own yearly Title 10 war games.
In the U.S. code, Title 10 stipulates the responsibilities of the military
services to organize, train and equip their forces.
Expeditionary Warrior is the first Title 10 war game that the Marines have
conducted since the mid-1990s, when the program was abandoned.
The first iteration of the war game, dubbed Expeditionary Warrior 03-1, looked
at how a Navy-Marine Expeditionary Strike Group, along with U.S. Special Operations
Command forces, would conduct preemptive maneuvers against terrorist cells.
In broad terms, Expeditionary Warrior differs considerably from other Title
10 programs, officials said. This war game consists of an annual series of small,
focused combat experiments and related events that can either be connected by
a common theme or address discrete issues. The game completed in November was
the first in the Expeditionary Warrior series, expected to last through fiscal
In charge of organizing the games is the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.
The Expeditionary Warrior event was “different from other programs,”
said Frank Jordan, director of war gaming at MCWL.
The November event was only one among a series of short war games that make
up Expeditionary Warrior, he explained. The idea is to break up the project
into smaller pieces, so planners can focus on specific issues. “We need
a program that is flexible, fast moving, involves a series of several events,
instead of one gigantic event every year,” Jordan said. “We are
going to have several related events throughout the year, under the general
title of Expeditionary Warrior.”
Unlike previous war games that did not necessarily lead to changes in Marine
Corps concepts of operations and doctrine, Expeditionary Warrior is expected
to yield guidance for the future, said Jordan. “We hope to get more focused
results that we can get specific action on.”
The scenarios in Expeditionary Warrior largely are shaped by events surrounding
the U.S. war on terrorism. Most notably, said Jordan, is the emphasis on how
the Marine Corps and the Special Operations Command can “develop a closer
Jordan declined to discuss how the Marines and the special operators fared
in the war game as a joint force. He said the results of the war game could
not be disclosed yet. At press time, Warfighting Lab officials were scheduled
to brief Lt. Gen. Edward Hanlon Jr., who heads the Marine Corps Combat Development
Command, on the war game after-action report. Hanlon serves as the executive
agent for Marine Corps Title 10 war games.
Marine Maj. Joel Sauer, an operations officer at the Warfighting Lab, said
that a war game such as Expeditionary Warrior is the first step in the process
of figuring out what changes may be needed in the force makeup and organization.
“It’s an efficient way to discover the deficiencies in a particular
unit,” Sauer told National Defense. “You don’t have to put
forces in the field, spend millions of dollars to figure out that you need to
reorganize a unit or that you need a certain new tool.”
In tabletop-type games, the action takes place in a “sandbox” where
the players—divided up into blue (friendly) and red (enemy) cells—execute
their battle plans. In Expeditionary Warrior, said Sauer, most of the players
were active-duty Marines and special operations troops, and only a minority
were retired officers or outside experts.
How to best combine Marine units and special operations forces was one of the
objectives in Expeditionary Warrior, even though war game events don’t
necessarily translate into real-world changes in deployment tactics, Jordan
It has been widely reported that the Marines and the special operators increasingly
will be fighting as a joint force.
Late last year, then Commandant Gen. James Jones signed a memorandum of agreement
with the Special Operations Command that commits both organizations to “move
forces closer together, establish the framework for building bridges between
the two organizations,” Jones told reporters during a roundtable in Washington,
Jones also assigned Marine Brig. Gen. Dennis Hejlik to work under SOCOM’s
chief, Air Force Gen. Charles Holland. A Marine Corps SOCOM detachment of 85
members will begin training with special operators and is expected to be ready
for action within a year or two.
“We are going to provide 85 Marines who have the type, capability and
skills that the special operations command can use in their own deployments,”
said Jones. “We are looking for ways to use Marine forces to go into what
was previously SOF missions that we can do and were trained to do, to free up
the SOF to go do the higher-tier stuff.”
But Jones recognized that combining forces from different organizations takes
more that just a written memorandum. “There are some cultural things to
overcome,” he said. “There are some institutional ties and confidence
building measures that we have to build.”
War games such as Expeditionary Warrior will help probe some of the cultural
issues and come up with new ways to bridge the institutional gaps, Jordan suggested.
During Expeditionary Warrior, he said, “We were interested in several
different things in terms in how the Marines and special operations forces work
together. ... What capabilities and qualities each would bring that would complement
and assist the other.”
Over time, the plan is to establish “an interface between the Joint Special
Operations Command and deploying Marine Expeditionary Unit staffs,” said
a war-game fact sheet. Officials also are seeking to “synchronize SOCOM
and USMC war-fighting developments, as well as materiel research and procurement
Ultimately, said Jordan, “By putting them together, the results would
be greater than the sum of the parts.” The goal, he said, is to “give
the task force commander a lot more capability. ... We were looking at command
relationships—how those would be set up. That is a very important piece.”
The war game also was designed to demonstrate the Marine Corps “distinctive
capabilities,” such as forward presence and forcible entry, said Jordan,
and “how those things could integrate with special operations forces and
carry out preemptive operations.”
The scenarios in Expeditionary Warrior were stretched across different regions
of the world.
“No single war game will be definitive and give you all the answers,”
Jordan said. Most often, “it generates more issues than answers. There
has to be follow-on efforts” to take advantage of the after-action recommendations.
War game results can be used to fine-tune what the military services call DOTMLPF
(doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership, personnel, facilities).
In the future, the Warfighting Lab expects to be working more closely with
the Joint Forces Command, which has been tasked to establish a Defense Department-wide
JFCOM experimentation projects and associated gaming are becoming more connected
to traditional service-centered Title 10 gaming, Jordan noted. JFCOM is planning
a Title 10-like war game, called Joint Global 2004.
Title 10 war games generally address future concepts and force-makeup in the
context of core Title 10 responsibilities of organizing, training, and equipping
forces to execute each service’s roles and functions. But Jordan noted
that Title 10 war games also are joint, with other services participa-ting,
and are expected to have “major implications for the future direction
and capabilities of the sponsoring service.”
Existing Title 10 war-gaming programs sponsored by other services include the
Navy’s Global Series, the Army Transformation war game series and the
Air Force Global Engagement and Aerospace Futures series. These are large annual
events, each with a planning cycle of eight to 10 months.