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Afghanistan, Iraq Lessons Learned Part of Joint War Game

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2006 – Lessons learned on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq will be incorporated into the annual Unified Quest joint war game and some day likely will be taught in military classrooms, a senior military transformation expert said yesterday.

"It's really in the domain of training and leader development that a lot of insights and a lot of work" derived from warfighters' experiences are being achieved, Army Brig. Gen. Robin P. Swan said at a Pentagon briefing on the Unified Quest 2006 war game, slated April 23-28 at Carlisle Barracks, Pa., and Suffolk, Va.

Military leaders and rank-and-file servicemembers need to better understand ethnic groups that may be on battlefields of the future and to appreciate the usefulness of information operations to help bridge cultural gaps, said Swan, director of concept development and experimentation at the Army Training and Doctrine Command's Futures Center.

For example, Swan said, information operations messages sent to residents living in Umm Qasr, Iraq, might not be as effective if also transmitted to people living in Baghdad, due to regional or cultural differences.

This type of situation necessitates "the training, education and leader development of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to operate in environments that are becoming increasingly complex," Swan said.

The irregular battlefields of today and tomorrow pose an array of threats and circumstances to servicemembers that call for rapid decision making, flexibility and adaptability at a level heretofore unimaginable, he said.

Swan said irregular warfare and stability operations are among the Army's 19 major focus areas as part of its transformation efforts under the leadership of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker.

Tomorrow's joint force will embrace "the development of all the attributes of being flexible, adaptable," Swan said, as well as understanding different cultures and gaining increased language capabilities that will be important military skills to have on the irregular battlefields of the future.

Joint services' company-, battalion-, brigade- and flag-level leaders compared notes on their experiences in Afghanistan or Iraq during four seminars leading up to this year's Unified Quest war game, Army Col. Robert C. Johnson, chief of TRADOC's Future Warfare Studies Division, said.

In 2005, military futurists gathered data from past asymmetrical wars to incorporate into the war game, Johnson said. Their research found "the most critical thing is focusing on what we can do at the individual level in terms of training and education" to help prepare servicemembers for irregular warfare, he said.

Unified Quest 2006 is based on a fictional global conflict set in the year 2015. It's cosponsored by TRADOC at Fort Monroe, Va., and U.S. Joint Forces Command at Norfolk, Va. An unclassified report of the war game is slated for release at the end of June.

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