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Joint Forces Experiment Looks at Gaps in Urban Warfare

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2006 – The U.S. Joint Forces Command is in the midst of the most important and complex experiment the command has conducted since Millennium Challenge in 2002, officials said here yesterday.

The experiment is Urban Resolve 2015 and is designed to test solutions for that most complicated warfighting task: combat in cities.

Dave Ozolek, executive director of the Joint Futures Lab at the command, said the experiment is designed to examine solutions for current and future gaps in warfighting capabilities.

He said the experiment is enabling the command to get inside two concepts. First, how does the U.S. military operate in the new urban environment? “Ten years ago, we saw the (military) operating space as the great plains of Europe and the deserts, and we basically avoided operating in the urban environment,” Ozolek said. “That’s no longer possible. That’s where the fight is, that’s where the enemy is, that where the center of gravity for the whole operation is.”

This is more than the old military operations in urban terrain that the armed forces practiced for years. “We need a new approach, because the environment is not only terrain, it’s infrastructure, it’s culture, it’s governance, it’s rule of law, it’s legality, food, water, fire and safety and all of those things that make up a complex environment of a city,” he said.

The military must make the urban environment “toxic” to the enemy and achieve success in ways other than trying to hunt them down one at a time and kill them, he said.

The second concept is stabilization operations. How does the military stabilize the situation in a city, transition to local control and rebuild a shattered economy? “How do we bring safety and security to the city without destroying it?” Ozolek asked.

The experiment takes place in Baghdad, but it could be any urban environment. The scenario is five days of major combat operations, followed by 30 days of stability operations. An insurgency arises that requires a joint task force. The joint task force now faces the threat.

More than 1,400 people around the United States have worked on and operated the experiment. The main place is the command’s Joint Experimentation Directorate in Suffolk, Va., but the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps have integrated their systems into the U.S. Joint Forces Command system for it. Representatives from 12 nations are participating, as well as members of other federal agencies, such as the State Department, Commerce and Justice.

The experiment is testing seven solutions for urban operations capability gaps, according to Air Force Col. Terry Kono, head of experimentation and design at the command.

The population is the center of gravity for any urban operation, Kono said. “The urban operations concept breaks into two ideas: isolating the adversary, controlling the urban environment,” he said.

The experiment plugs the seven solution sets into the scenario. The first is a Joint Command Post of the Future. The experiment will examine ways to improve joint force collaboration and provide the tools needed for commanders and their staffs to operate in the environment.

A second solution is the Communication Strategy Board. This enables commanders to develop a coherent communications strategy using information operations, public affairs, special staffs and other to influence public opinion and keep all populations informed.

A third solution is the Joint Intelligence Operations Center. This is essentially a merger of an intelligence center and an operations center. Divisions in Iraq are already moving in this direction and are integrating the two separate staffs into one.

A fourth solution is the Joint Urban Operations Surveillance System. These are network-controlled, long-duration, unmanned aerial vehicles that can be used for continuous and persistent surveillance. It could, for example, backtrack a vehicle used in a car bomb attack.

Fifth, Predictive Analysis. This is modeling that commanders can use to assess decisions.

Sixth, Integrated Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense. The year is 2015 and the predictions are that a terror group would possess a chemical or biological weapon. The U.S. military needs to understand what it has to do to protect a city under such a threat.

And finally, Tags. These are radio frequency vehicle tags, personnel identification and invisible tags that can be used to track critical targets and activities.

The experiment ends Oct. 27, but the analysis should be very quick to turn around, Ozolek said. Urban Resolve 2015 took about a year and $25 million to set up. Millennium Challenge, conducted in 2002, took about three years to set up and cost about $250 million.

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Related Sites:
U.S. Joint Forces Command
Joint Experimentation Directorate


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