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Joint Forces Experiment Points to Way of the Future

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2006 – The Urban Resolve 2015 experiment, which ended Oct. 26, focused on how military operations can bring about stability in cities without destroying them.

Dave Ozolek, executive director of the Joint Futures Lab at U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., said Urban Resolve was the most “complex and important” experiment the U.S. military has conducted since Millennium Challenge in 2002. Ozolek briefed the press via a telephone conference call Oct. 27.

The experiment looked at the challenges the U.S. military is likely to encounter in the near future, and cities will be the military, economic and political centers of gravity, Ozolek said.

“It really is a problem of complex systems, and the most complex system is the population that inhabits the city,” he said. “Our conceptual work in this experiment focused on isolating threats within the environment from the population, protecting the population and assisting with the restoration of essential services. The major objective has been to restore the stability of a city without destroying it.”

Isolating an enemy within a city means cutting them off politically and economically from the population, in addition to direct military force, Ozolek said.

The experiment looked at tools the military could use to execute a holistic approach -- political, economic, diplomatic and military -- to urban operations. “We learned a lot about how to do that; we also learned a lot about the abilities we need in order to execute that approach to urban operations for now and into the future,” Ozolek said.

The experiment also proved the worth of modeling and simulation tools. “They performed beyond our expectations in being able to support the experiment, but also revealed in the course of the experiment that they have some great potential as decision-support tools for the forces that will be operating in the future,” Ozolek said. “They have great potential for increasing our abilities in battle-space awareness.”

He said the tools show great potential in being able to “compress the decision cycle so we can make better decisions faster in this very complex urban environment in spite of the complexity.”

The experiment showed that the Army’s command post of the future can be upgraded to become an operational-level joint capability for command and control, Ozolek said.

“The biggest surprise was the power of some of the anticipatory analysis tools,” he said. “We discovered we may be further along with being able to use advanced models and simulation to anticipate the effects of not only military but unified action within the urban environment and to be able to provide commanders with insights into the potential implications of courses of action on a much broader scale.”

This means looking at economic, political, diplomatic, legal and other courses that could accomplish the aim of the operation without having to resort to military capability alone, he said.

Ozolek and others briefed the Senior Advisory Council meeting of the urban operations community on the results of the experiment and discussed options for the way ahead. He said experts will continue to examine data and get more detail on the capabilities the military needs for future joint and interagency forces. In the next year, the group will use the results of the experiment to find out what it takes in terms of capabilities to execute this concept. They also will assess where the gaps in capabilities lie and how to accelerate those projects to address gaps.

The Joint Futures Lab will now work with U.S. Northern Command on an experiment called Noble Resolve that will take the insights on urban operations to determine what relevance they have with homeland defense and also to DoD support to civil authorities who are reacting to natural disasters, Ozolek said.

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