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Joint National Training Center in DoD's Future, Chu Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2002 – To make interoperability a reality among the U.S. military services, a Joint National Training Center will be established in two years, DoD's senior civilian readiness official said.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is convinced future military operations will become increasingly joint-service in character, David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, noted Sept. 17 in an address at a conference in Alexandria, Va.

"The secretary firmly believes while we have made great progress in terms of joint training over the last two or three decades, we still have a long way to go," Chu said. This situation, he said, reinforces the need for the new joint national training center that's slated to start up by Oct. 1, 2004.

Today, there are still too many problems when the services work together, he explained. And when interoperability occurs, he pointed out, it has tended to be of an "ad hoc" variety.

Other current sore points Chu cited include a nonmeshing of joint doctrine among the services and the lack of joint operations experience among many junior- and middle-level officers.

Large-unit military training procedures were revamped and improved across the armed services in the late 1970s and early '80s, he said. Those changes, he noted, contributed to U.S. military successes in the Gulf War, Kosovo and, most recently, Afghanistan.

Joint training among the services, however, has most often been achieved over the years during actual military operations, Chu noted.

"However successfully we have indeed improvised in current operations, we should not be simply improvising this on the ground when we're facing the enemy. We should prepare for this," Chu emphasized. He added that's why the new training center will be established.

He said the center would employ four training principles used successfully over the past three decades:

o Realism: The training real estate and environment, to include problem scenarios, must mirror possible actual combat conditions as much as possible.

o Opposition Force: The need for an "enemy" with command, control and decision-making processes, for "friendly forces" to confront.

o Reliable Evaluation: A free-of-command-influence method of judging how an exercise is proceeding. Technology has vastly improved this.

o Feedback: An after-action review that answers why events occurred and provides lessons learned.

These still-valid training principles must be employed from the joint perspective, Chu emphasized, noting that changing the way U.S. forces train is one of the quickest routes to military transformation.

He cited innovation as central to the way the U.S. military will transform itself into a 21st century force.

"And above all, this is a call for innovative ideas," Chu concluded.

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