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[] War Games: Millennium Challenge 2002,

Joint experiment explores future warfare

by Master Sgt. Debra Bingham

SUFFOLK, Va. (Army News Service, July 30, 2002) -- There's an experiment 
underway at the U.S. Joint Forces Command at Suffolk, Va., and dozens of 
locations around the country, but you won't find any test tubes or beakers 
in this "laboratory."
The experiment, Millennium Challenge 2002, is designed to simulate a 
realistic battlefield in the year 2007. Part of a Department of 
Defense-wide transformation process, MC02 will explore new methods of 
planning, organizing and fighting in a joint service environment, officials 
said. The MC02 experiment is taking place at 17 simulation sites and nine 
live sites across the country. It's the largest joint military experiment 
and exercise of its kind in history, with more than 13,500 military and 
civilian personnel participating. MC02 runs July 24-Aug 15. Lt. Gen. B.B. 
Bell, Commanding General of III Corps and Fort Hood, is wearing a different 
hat during MC02. He's serving as the commander of the Joint Task Force 
Headquarters. About 200 soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, worked with Bell at 
Suffolk prior to the exercise start for a final planning and rehearsal 
exercise called Spiral 3. Bell said he is excited about the role Fort Hood 
soldiers are playing in helping the U.S. Joint Forces Command and 
Department of Defense explore innovative concepts for battle and command 
and control. "We're forward thinking and forward looking. We're trying to 
harness the power of information and information sphere technologies to 
better prepare the U.S. Joint Forces for war about five years from now," he 
said. During Spiral 3, held the first two weeks in June, military members 
from all service branches worked together, planning and becoming familiar 
with the computer-based "tools" linked to the simulation. One of the 
experiment's objectives is obtaining information superiority over an 
adversary. The goal is to rapidly access, share and process information in 
order to develop plans and execute them -- almost simultaneously. The 
computer-based tools make that possible. During the experiment, operators 
can quickly retrieve information from military and governmental agencies, 
as well as economic and academic sources. "These tools give us instant 
communication, instant collaboration and enormous capability to retrieve 
data to help us in our decision making process," Bell said. Computer tools 
also enable commanders and staff to simultaneously talk with each other. 
Hundreds of people can be brought together in a virtual auditorium for an 
interactive meeting, without the "attendees" leaving their workspaces. Bell 
said the aim is to tap into the knowledge base of people "sitting" in the 
auditorium. "It's quite probable that some great thinker, one who is 
normally buried in an office somewhere, will have an idea or concept or 
know something about the enemy that is so important to us that we'll be 
able to grab it and bring it into our thinking immediately," Bell said. 
Spiral 3 gave participants a chance to master computer tools and allowed 
them to leap into the future. Bell said mastering the computer skills was 
not as difficult as changing traditional military decision-making mindsets 
and finding new approaches and answers to problems. "We've got to 
reconfigure ourselves, both in terms of the way we would perceive fighting 
today and project ourselves to the way the Joint Forces Command believes we 
would be able to fight 5 years from now," Bell said. Part of that new way 
of thinking is being explored in a concept called Rapid Decisive 
Operations. RDO brings a vast knowledge base, command and control elements 
and operations together to bring about a desired effect on an adversary. 
Bell said it means moving away from traditional, time-consuming sequential 
operations, where plans are issued from the top and trickle down to 
subordinate levels, to a faster, collaborative approach. By using 
technology to communicate, plans and combat operations can be developed 
simultaneously. "We can bring our thinking together very, very rapidly and 
conduct operations quickly and decisively," Bell said. The collaborative 
process includes thinking about the kind of effect or impact planners want 
to have on an adversary, a concept called Effects Based Operations. "What 
we're learning in this process is a better way to look at the enemy, in 
terms of what he is capable of doing, and what kind of effect we want to 
achieve with regard to the enemy," Bell said. The effect could be a 
military action, or it could be economic, information or diplomatic one, he 
said.. Although MCO2 is an experiment, it is expected to provide insight 
into how to transform the military to meet future challenges.

(Editor's note: Master Sgt. Debra Bingham is assigned to the 4th Infantry 
Division Public Affairs Office.)

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