Multinational Experiment Will Yield Real Change, Officials Say
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2006 The latest in a series of multinational experiments will use hypothetical events to help U.S. government and coalition agencies coordinate planning and will translate to real-world change, two U.S. officials working with the program said here today.
Multinational Experiment 4, which runs Feb. 27 to March 17, will involve 800 people from eight countries and NATO, and will use the context of Afghanistan to practice civil-military coalition processes, said Army Lt. Gen. John R. Wood, deputy commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command.
"The idea here is to practice together and prepare ourselves for joint interagency and multinational environments of the future," Wood said. "This is so critical to success of our future coalition military mission."
In this experiment, Joint Forces Command will partner with the State Department's Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization to use all elements of national power and will integrate the U.S. government solution with other nations' government solutions, Wood said.
Barbara Stephenson, planning director for reconstruction and stabilization at the State Department, said that this experiment will be essential in creating structures for coalition partners to collaborate before operations begin, reducing the amount of time spent fixing conflicts on the ground.
"The multinational experiment is catalyzing real-world change," she said. "It's helping us develop concepts for how we plan before we get there, organize once we're on the ground, and then integrate our national and international efforts so we can help nations transition from conflict to peace."
Multinational Experiment 4 will use more than 268 hypothetical events focused on asymmetric threats, stability operations and reconstruction, Wood said. The events focus on complexity and on challenging the planning processes, he said. The experiment begins with hypothetical forces in place that are representative of partner nations and not any current force structure, he explained.
The technology used in the experiment will allow organizers to increase or decrease pressure in certain areas and evaluate the outcome, Wood said. The evaluation portion of the experiment is very important, as it gives the coalition a chance to explore alternative planning processes and tools, he said.
Three simulation systems are being used for Multinational Experiment 4, Wood said - U.S., German and French. Each has different capabilities, and coordinating the systems was important in creating a common operating picture, he said.
"By being able to take these three nations' models and put them together, we can really model the complexity," he said. "We can actually see the action and its reaction."
Multinational Experiment 4 will use two parallel headquarters, Wood said. One will be staffed by NATO at a single location in Turkey, and the other will be spread around nine or 10 sites on a distributed network, he said. Both headquarters will review operations and compare their findings at the end, he explained.
Earlier and better collaboration between U.S. government agencies and international partners, which the multinational experiment seeks to create, will improve U.S. national security and international security, Stephenson said. It will allow agencies to better align strategic goals and to create a common understanding of objectives before operations even begin, she said.
The multinational experiment is bringing people together to solve real-world problems and could bring about transformation in the way conflicts are dealt with, Stephenson said.
"Success in this will result in far less loss in human life, far less resources to get to that point, and far less time until we have built sufficient local capacity for us to move into a supporting role rather than the lead role," she said.
The multinational experiment series was started in 2001, before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Wood said. The goal of the series is to improve the level of partner-nation involvement in developing new ideas for coalition operations.
The findings of Multinational Experiment 4 will be presented to an audience of NATO and other-nation participants May 19, and will be used to develop the next level of the experiment, he said.