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Multinational Experiment is a Success, General Says

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2006 – A recently completed international experiment successfully explored a "holistic" approach to dealing with conflict situations, the general who heads U.S. Joint Forces Command and serves as NATO's supreme allied commander for transformation, said today.

"We have moved from thinking only about major combat operations to thinking about the entire spectrum of conflict," Air Force Gen. Lance Smith said via telephone from a senior leadership seminar in Brussels, Belgium. "The experiment delved in a lot of areas, but primarily looking at a stabilization and reconstruction."

The general was speaking about Multinational Experiment 4, an international test of various aspects of international power, such as diplomacy, information, military and economics, and how these variables influence the behavior of an adversary. The JFCOM-led experiment concluded earlier this year. The participants included Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Finland, Sweden and NATO.

MNE 4 was designed to further explore concepts and supporting tools for the entire range of an "effects-based approach" to multinational operations within a coalition environment. The environment included stability operations with increasing levels of violence and was designed to assist in developing future processes, organizations and technologies at the operational level of command, U.S. military officials said.

Improving information-sharing techniques among coalition partners was of particular interest to those who participated, Smith said. "What we discovered in this experiment are a lot of the same barriers and obstacles we have known about, like sharing of information and releasability of information," he said.

In addition, the experiment's participants concluded that new software and improved network systems would help with planning and connectivity issues, he said. "The sooner we can all figure out how to share those kinds of databases, the better off we'll be," he said.

The general said the experiment also examined better ways in which military and civilian components could cooperate in stabilization and reconstruction efforts.

"It's clear that military cannot do these things alone. It takes all the elements of national power, whether it's an economic piece that helps with reconstruction and rebuilding the economy or it's the political and diplomatic piece that really goes into how we establish a form of government that is able to operate within a global environment," he said.

"One of the things we truly achieved out of this," Smith continued, "is a good start to breaking down some of the barriers that are out there and the differences between military and civilian communities and looking toward changing culture so we can be more cooperative and collaborative,"

The experiment's results are providing insights and recommendations that will allow nations to build stronger coalition teams, enhance interoperability, and improve processes, U.S. military officials said.

The general said the next step is to take what was learned during the experiment and implement the findings into future experiments, and where appropriate, into the field.

Smith noted one difficult aspect of the experiment was determining its success rate.

"One of the most significance challenges of the exercise was the assessment piece," he said. "How do you know you achieved what you were trying to achieve? I think we are successfully achieving the goal from a thought-process perspective. Now what we're trying to do is make sure our leaders and our civilians have the tools to be able to go and implement."

Preliminary planning for Multinational Experiment 5 begins tomorrow.

Contact Author

Gen. Lance Smith, USAF

Related Sites:
U.S. Joint Forces Command

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Multinational Experiment Lessons Already Benefiting Coalition Ops

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