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Joint War Games Test Today’s, Tomorrow’s Security Challenges

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2009 – A series of seminar-type, joint-force war games being held at McLean, Va., are examining present and future threats, senior U.S. military officers said here today.

The war games began May 31 and are slated to conclude June 5.

The U.S. military “had a great model for deterrence” during the Cold War, Navy Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward, deputy commander for U.S. Joint Forces Command, based at Norfolk, Va., said during a conference call with reporters. That model mostly was based on the use of conventional military forces to deter the Soviet Union.

Fast-forwarding to the war games’ purpose of examining today’s threats and those anticipated for tomorrow, Harward posited to reporters: “How does this deterrence work when we’re dealing with nonstate actors who are empowered with technology and weapons that have significant impact upon the tactical and operational, if not the strategic level?”

The McLean war games look ahead to 2020 and feature scenarios that pit U.S. joint forces against three types of threats: a globally networked terrorist threat, a peer competitor, and a failed or failing state, said Navy Rear Adm. Dan W. Davenport, chief of Joint Forces Command’s joint concept development and experimentation directorate.

These scenarios, Davenport noted, include military challenges involving “the ground domain, the maritime domain, the air domain, the space domain, and the cyber domain.”

The war game situations also involve scenarios featuring conventional warfare, irregular warfare, and hybrid warfare, which is a mix of conventional and irregular warfare, Davenport said.

Today’s national security environment is much more complex than that of 20 years ago, Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S Joint Forces Command, remarked May 12 at the annual Joint Warfighting conference in Virginia Beach, Va.

The emergence of global terrorism, the likelihood that weaker or failed states will rely on hybrid warfare to battle U.S. forces, and the possibility that a near-peer competitor may one day challenge U.S. national security interests, Mattis said at the conference, are driving efforts to develop a new, balanced and comprehensive strategy that addresses all of those scenarios.

“Our predicaments today are complex, but I do not believe they are more complex than many that civilizations have faced in the past,” Mattis told conference attendees.

Input from the war games will be used with other material for the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review, a congressionally mandated report that’s prepared every four years that also seeks to predict future threats while balancing U.S. military capabilities to confront them.

It’s too early in the war games’ process to announce any conclusions, Davenport said, noting that the data first need to be shifted and analyzed. An unclassified report on the war games should become available at end of July, he said.

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Biographies:
Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis
Navy Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward
Navy Rear Adm. Dan. W. Davenport

Related Sites:
U.S. Joint Forces Command

Related Articles:
Upcoming Joint War Game Examines Future Force Capabilities
Military Needs New Strategy for Present, Future Threats, General Says



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