Experiment leads to major shift in strategic philosophy and technical requirements.
Experiment participants receive
a briefing on maritime domain awareness at the U.S. Joint Forces Command’s (JFCOM’s), Joint Futures Laboratory, Suffolk, Virginia. The laboratory coordinated and administered Urban Resolve 2015 in the late summer and early fall of 2006, and at least one of the capabilities examined there was in the Afghan area of operations by January 2007.
Within months of the conclusion of Urban Resolve 2015 (UR 2015), an experiment that took place in three two-week segments late last year, lessons learned from the event were making their mark in the Global War on Terrorism. Executed by the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), Norfolk, Virginia, the experiment demonstrated that the urban fighting challenge is not one of overcoming terrain obstacles but rather entails controlling the environment—all the infrastructure and systems that make up a city. This radical concept change, written in partnership with the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps, was the first UR 2015 deliverable and led to overhauling the entire U.S. Defense Department master plan. And similar to a row of dominoes that falls when the first tile tips, the master plan overhaul is creating a cascade of newly needed capabilities.
David Ozolek, executive director of experimentation, Joint Futures Laboratory, JFCOM, explains that the need to examine urban operations more closely emerged as a priority when it became increasingly clear that cities were the preferred operating environment for
The “traditional advantages” Ozolek is talking about are institutional in magnitude. For the
“So we framed the ideas behind a new concept that essentially revolves around a principal idea that the center of gravity in an urban environment is the population and that you need to be able to separate the threat and the population. You need to be able to make the environment toxic to the threat, and you need to focus on saving the city by saving it, not by destroying it,” he states.
Once born, the concept and the capabilities predicted to make it work had to be tested; Urban Resolve 2015 was the forum for that testing. It was based on the fact that urban environments compound the danger of an enemy who blends with the population, increasing the risk of collateral damage. The experiment took place in a virtual environment that replicated
More than 1,000 participants from 19 distributed
From this point on in the experiment, the activity was not scripted; the meat of UR 2015 was a “free play” of ideas that attacked the problems presented in the scenario and then determined a coalition solution. Participants looked at the situation in the context of three capabilities sets based on a capabilities development time line. First, the joint task force executed missions with systems that became available in 2005. Ozolek’s group then measured the shortfalls and the
The second joint task force situation was a little more difficult to model, Ozolek says, because it involved employing a force equipped with systems that are in the Program Objective Memorandum (POM) for fiscal years 2008 to 2013. While many of these capabilities are under development, such as the Army’s Future Combat Systems, they do not currently exist in their final forms.
|Two participants in the Noble Resolve experiment analyze some of the data being gathered during the event. Noble Resolve is a JFCOM experimentation campaign plan that was born from the lessons being learned during the Urban Resolve 2015 experiment.|
In the third joint task force situation, the capabilities being examined are not part of the current POM but are either currently available or would have to be developed to support the concept. Seven potential joint solutions were explored during UR 2015’s three trials; these were then subjected to two verification processes to ensure the validity of the results.
One capability that falls into this third category is the Synthetic Environment for Analysis and Simulation, or SEAS. Developed by Simulex Incorporated,
The capability proved so powerful during the experiment that JFCOM decided it was a candidate for accelerated fielding because of the impact it could have in the stability operations currently underway on a global scale. And that impact was felt almost immediately as Gen. Daniel K. McNeill,
For several months, JFCOM conducted a field experiment that further explored SEAS’ capability in the real-world operational environment of
By late July, Gen. McNeill had to decide whether the effort should be continued, modified or ended. “His decision was—as commander’s often do—to choose course of action number 4: accelerate the effort. So we transitioned from a structure that had been basically a shadow effort underpinning legacy, traditional planning and decision-making in
In addition to proving invaluable as an anticipatory, if not predictive, analysis tool, SEAS as it is being used in
Another capability that is coming out of UR 2015 as a revolutionary success is the transitioning of the thriving Army CPOF command and control project. Originally designed to be the land component of a tactical-level system used to present a common operating picture to commanders, it moved to use at the joint and operational levels during UR 2015. Transforming a service-specific program into a joint one is a novel approach, Ozolek says; the typical process is to build a capability from the ground up.
In this case, however, JFCOM started with what it believed was the best of breed from the CPOF family that had already demonstrated success in an operating environment, particularly in
“We fed those additional requirements back to the project manager for CPOF along with some joint funding that could enable it. What we’ll see in subsequent blocks of CPOF fielding will actually be these joint capabilities in it. So the next block of CPOF will be JCPOF, with the ‘J’ standing for joint,” he explains. Fielding is likely to take place in weeks rather than years, he adds.
JCPOF will provide the logical solution to an age-old problem, an interoperability issue of sorts that pre-dates technology and can probably be traced to biblical times and the
“That’s something that has escaped the joint force for decades. We had solved the communications interoperability problem—at least we could talk to each other—but we ended up describing things like, ‘Go look on the other side of that big mountain kind of off to my right.’ That’s not exactly the way you conduct precision warfare.
“Now, through experiments like Urban Resolve and partnership with a program of record like CPOF, we’re able to get that capability turned joint much faster than in the traditional independent joint development process,” Ozolek says.
JFCOM also examined other critical issues and capabilities that Ozolek cannot discuss because of the sensitivity of the material. However, he did allow that UR 2015 looked at countering improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by modeling how the system for building and distributing IEDs fits inside the urban environment. “We’re identifying methods and means by which we could conduct precision operations against specific points within the IED system that would cause the system itself to collapse,” he relates.
In addition to the numerous practical and almost-ready-for-primetime concepts explored during UR 2015, Ozolek believes that the experiment itself is an example of how the military has transformed the way it operates. Comparing UR 2015 to Millennium Challenge 2002 (SIGNAL Magazine, July 2002), he points out that five years ago when JFCOM tried to examine a problem that was not as complex as the urban environment, it took almost three years to put a large field experiment together. Millennium Challenge 2002 cost $250 million, and participants explored only a very small set of potential solutions.
“In this experiment, in half that time with one-tenth of the funding, we took on a much more complex problem; we were able to deal with a significantly extended number of potential solutions; and we got dozens of looks at these potential alternatives within a very compressed timeframe. So looking at that traditional faster, better, cheaper benchmark, UR 2015 was faster with a decrease in the time by 50 percent; better with an increase in the analytical capability probably by an order of magnitude; and cheaper because the cost was reduced from about $250 million to less than $25 million,” he says.
These statistics are compelling evidence that JFCOM has made great strides in advancing the art and science of experimentation, Ozolek adds. And these strides are made possible by both the human and technical sides of any experiment. First, the organizers and participants learn more from each event and apply their imaginations and innovations to expand the applications.
“And then the tools themselves are getting better. Two years ago, SEAS didn’t really exist—well, it did exist but it existed as a marketing tool that was helping some commercial entities understand how to sell toothpaste in
Urban Resolve 2015: www.jfcom.mil/about/experiments/uresolve.htm
Joint Futures Laboratory: www.jfcom.mil/about/fact_jfl.htm
Simulex Incorporated: www.simulexinc.com