The Unified Quest for Jointness

September 2003
By Maryann Lawlor
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The Stryker, part of the U.S. Army's transformation efforts, will support future joint warfighting concepts. Last year, the vehicle was used as part of the Army's involvement in the joint experiment Millennium Challenge.

U.S. Army and Joint Forces Command explore new concepts.

The U.S. Army is taking a major leap forward on two future warfighting fronts as it more closely examines how it will operate in the joint environment as well as in conflicts in the next decade. Teaming with the U.S. Joint Forces Command, the service recently conducted a war game that explored future concepts in which the U.S. military must react to aggression from a competent military adversary. The command and the Army identified several challenges that must be addressed, including denied physical access and well-networked adversaries, and are now developing recommendations that will be sent up the chain of command.

War games have been vital to testing new concepts of operations. Lessons learned in Iraq demonstrate that the insights they provide accurately portray some of the elements of military missions. For example, past events indicated that speed and knowledge to support situational awareness are critically important to success. Until recently, however, war games were service specific, and only experiments and exercises took place in a joint environment.

The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Fort Monroe, Virginia, changed all of that when it decided to co-host its annual transformation war game with the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), starting a trend that will continue as the U.S. Navy co-sponsors a war game with JFCOM next month.

UNIFIED QUEST 03 (UQ03) involved a scenario in which it is the year 2015 and a competent regional power in the Persian Gulf area has access to the global marketplace and has built a sophisticated military and information operations capability. The opponent is a base for globally networked terrorist operations and employs a strategy of denying the United States and its allies access to the area through a variety of means. If this tactic fails, the enemy will draw the multinational force into a war of attrition. The adversary has developed weapons of mass destruction and intercontinental missile capability, and could strike both Europe and the continental United States. The littoral battlespace also is part of the scenario and enabled the participants to explore the Navy’s sea-basing capabilities, which will be examined again during the Navy’s war game.

William Rittenhouse, director of war gaming, TRADOC, explains that UQ03 was a fairly broad look at strategic to operational issues. The global scenario included operations in the homeland and a number of potential crises stretching across the globe from Latin America through South Saharan Africa to northeast Asia. The adversaries were not strictly military forces; rather, they included transnational criminals and international terrorists with links between both the geographic locations and the players.

Under the UQ03 theme of “Expanding the Power of Coherent Joint Operations,” the Army identified four objectives: integrated global operations, joint concept integration, joint effects generation and battle command. The first puts huge stress on not only the military capabilities of the United States but also all elements of combat power, including diplomatic, informational and economic.

The joint operations concept was the basis of the games, and emerging individual service concepts served as the guide for designing operational plans. Generating desired effects took into account a number of conceptual options that the Army is interested in exploring. These include responsiveness, conducting operational maneuvers from strategic distances, and capabilities that enable the service to deploy, employ and sustain in a continuum. Today, these three elements occur in three separate stages.

In the area of battle command, the Army used the scenario to determine the right levels of command and control in terms of Objective Force echelons. “Battle command really looked at the Objective Force structure, unit of action structure and what echelon of command and control above the unit of action is about right. Is it one level of control, is it two or is it three as it is today?” Rittenhouse says.

The war game examined capabilities that will enable the military to conduct operational maneuvers from a strategic distance. The goal is to deploy strike forces very rapidly into an operational area to achieve the objective of the mission. For one of the teams involved in the war game, strategic air and sea lift, including high-speed, shallow-draft ships and specific types of aircraft like the joint tactical rotorcraft, were key enablers. The UQ03 coordinators compared the strategies of teams that had these capabilities with the tactics of teams that did not, enabling them to see benefits of strategic air and sea lift. UQ03 also revealed the importance of joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). The Army knows how to bring together its ISR assets and capabilities at various echelons, but this currently occurs at the component levels, Rittenhouse says. However, the war game demonstrated that the merging of information from ISR platforms needs to occur in a joint fashion, specifically at the joint task force level. Work in this area may take place in more detail during UQ04, he says.

“Some of the powerful lessons that came out of this really reinforced the work that we have been doing over the last couple of years with Army transformation war gaming. This notion of strategic responsiveness in a global environment is extremely important. In order to be strategically responsive in the kind of operational environment that we believe we could face in about 2015, these capabilities are very important,” Rittenhouse shares. “The ability to arrive into the area of operations very quickly, and in some cases in a pre-emptive manner, could cause a future adversary to pre-empt the pre-emptor. So the whole notion of anti-access becomes extremely important.”

In some cases, the red team used weapons of mass effects very early in the war game without any apparent fear that the blue team might employ the same tactic, which brings into question the value of deterrence, Rittenhouse relates. “They didn’t do it as a last ditch effort or as a last stand. They did it early on and with a great deal of forethought, primarily as a counter to our conventional forces,” he says. “I don’t know whether it surprised us, but it came out as something that made us step back and think, ‘This is a very real possibility.’”

Senior military leaders briefed on UQ03 pointed out the irony of the situation. “Back in the late ’50s and certainly into the ’60s, we knew that we did not have the conventional force and that we could conceivably have to resort to weapons of mass destruction. Apparently, the whole situation has been reversed. The potential adversaries that we faced in our war games didn’t have the conventional force, and they saw a very viable option of going to weapons of mass effects, which in fact they did,” Rittenhouse says.

UQ03 re-enforced the lessons the military has been learning over the past several years about merging the deploying and employing activities of U.S. and multinational forces into a continuum with sustaining the troops following quickly thereafter. The events leading to operation Iraqi Freedom illustrate that military actions involve more than just the armed forces. Military planners must examine all of the elements of national power: diplomatic, informational, military and economic. Because UQ03 lasted only one week, participants did not have enough time to explore all of these elements. However, as the Army designs the 2004 event, planners intend to examine some of the pre-conflict and post-conflict conditions as they apply to the mission. “This was a point that was brought out by a senior member of the State Department during the senior back brief,” Rittenhouse notes. These issues may not be examined during the war game itself, but could be part of ramp-up venues, he adds.

Working with JFCOM in this war game was beneficial to the Army, Rittenhouse says. It added a joint dynamic and brought a degree of legitimacy in examining joint capabilities, which will feed into joint concepts. In addition, the partnership brought the Army’s work to the attention of senior military leaders who are now very interested in what the service is doing. “The game process became a vehicle for joint training and for learning how joint operations can be improved,” he notes.

One week after UQ03, JFCOM conducted PINNACLE IMPACT 03 (PI03), which examined aspects of the evolving future joint operations concept. The event, called a discovery experiment, focused on seams and synergies that may result when a concept is integrated with next-decade joint and service combatant commander concepts.

David Ozolek, assistant director of joint experimentation, JFCOM, shares that, although many of the same principles and participants were used in UQ03 and PI03, the scenario moved from a competent regional adversary in UQ03 to a near-peer military competitor in PI03. Consequently, JFCOM personnel looked at the results differently, he says.

Denied access was one issue identified in both events, and this is a very difficult problem, Ozolek says. As a result, for unified course 2004, the war game JFCOM is co-sponsoring with the Navy next month, participants will focus specifically on what must be done to set the right conditions to achieve continuous access. Clark Rich, lead analyst, JFCOM, points out that because adversaries know U.S. military tactics, ensuring access means being able to operate not only from near the theater of operations but also from U.S. borders.

Ozolek agrees. “One of the major findings out of both UQ and PI was the recognition of the complexity of the globally networked battlespace that we’re going to encounter from here on. We began to explore not only the opportunities that global networking gives us but also the challenges presented by a threat that is equally adept at working within a globally networked battlespace,” he says.

This was particularly evident when facing a competitor that had information gathering and fusion capabilities nearly equal to those of the United States. Gaining information superiority was more than just a quantitative drill, Ozolek says. “It was no longer the assumption that information superiority is achieved by having better collection and processing capabilities compared to the other guy. In this operation, information superiority went to the side that approached the information domain as battlespace and fought aggressively to achieve necessary information and fought aggressively to deny the enemy the information that he needed to support his operations.

“Instead of it being purely a technical issue or a process issue, it became a warfighting issue. When we got deeper into it, what we concluded was that we could only win this fight if we approached it as such, formed organizations that were designed for fighting within the information domain and gave command of those organizations to a competent information warrior. And the information warfare was more than just hacking into the other guy’s system. It was more than just computer network attack and computer network defense. It was an integrated operation that included all of the elements of information warfare,” Ozolek says. In addition to fighting in the virtual realm, infrastructure that supports information networking such as power plants also would have to be attacked, he adds.

Rich shares that UQ03 revealed that the U.S. military and its allies might not need to know if they possess information superiority, a notion that has dominated military thinking and has led to substantial investments in this area. However, it is critical that U.S. and allied forces be able to prevent the adversary from having information superiority.

Ozolek believes that UQ03 allowed the Army to further explore where it needs to go with the Objective Force concept and how it will operate in a joint environment. “We were able to look at the connections that have to be established between the Army’s ground forces, other ground forces and then into the larger joint environment. How do we integrate ground, air, maritime and space capabilities? So I think the Army walked away from this with a far more detailed understanding of how the Objective Force needs to perform within the joint environment and the interdependencies that are possible as a result of that,” he says. Rich adds that the war game helped the Army gain a better understanding of how much it depends on the other services in areas such as logistics.

Concurrently, JFCOM benefited from the event. “The joint community got a far better understanding of what the capabilities of the Objective Force are going to be and what it brings to the larger joint fight. So we can shape the joint concepts in such a way that they exploit the capabilities that the Army is building,” Ozolek says.

Rich agrees that in terms of operations, JFCOM learned a lot about deployment and sustainment and how they influence the ability to employ forces. In addition, the participants identified the interdependency of forces that is necessary between forward presence afloat capabilities, forward station ground capabilities and globally projected capabilities of air, ground and maritime assets. “We also learned more about how we integrate all of that into a set of capabilities that provide the enemy with more dilemmas than he can handle,” he explains.

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