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Millennium Challenge Part Of 'Transformation Journey,' General Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2002 – DoD will apply lessons learned from a recently concluded joint military experiment - the largest ever to shape the forces of the future, a four-star general said here today.

Sailors, soldiers, Marines and airmen across the United States participated in the Millennium Challenge 2002 experiment conducted July 24 to Aug. 15, said Army Gen. William F. Kernan, head of U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va.

"This was the first joint experiment of this scope, scale and complexity," the general explained to Pentagon reporters. The experiment, he added, involved tremendous work, contributions and planning by service members from all branches of the armed forces.

Kernan provided Pentagon reporters an early assessment of the experiment, which involved about 13,500 service members participating in the total effort. Senior DoD civilian and military leaders, he noted, will analyze collected data "to see where we go from here."

Millennium Challenge was conducted across America at nine locations featuring "live" troops and their equipment, involved in amphibious, air, and land operations, Kernan remarked, and at 17 other locations using simulated military operations. The experiment required close coordination, he noted, to ensure that all objectives were met.

The experiment, he said, focused on testing four major concepts: the Standing Joint Force Headquarters, Operational Net Assessment, Effects- Based Operations, and the Joint Interagency Coordination Group.

  • Standing Joint Force Headquarters staff and communications elements are to be used to establish a Joint Force headquarters during real contingencies.

  • Operational net assessment analyzes provides information on an enemy's political, military, economic, social, and infrastructure situation.

  • Effects-based operations use diplomatic, military, informational and economic power to swiftly defeat an enemy.

  • The Joint Interagency Coordination Group provides the joint forces commander with a link between policy, strategy, operations and tactics, in leveraging all elements of national power to achieve objectives.

"If we can validate those concepts, we can then define very specifically what capabilities are necessary to satisfy those concepts and go after them," the general said.

Kernan said leaders of the experiment did not to get involved in the tactical arena, which is the responsibility of the individual services.

For example, the joint force commander used a C-17 aircraft as a mobile headquarters, flying coast-to-coast while maintaining communications with more than 400 planners and commanders during the experiment. All the while, he planned and managed major airborne and amphibious operations.

Kernan said Millennium Challenge sought to see how Information Age tools, such as secured military e-mail, streaming video and more, could be used to improve military capabilities.

Opposing forces participating in the experiment were "free-thinking," Kernan noted. However, he added, those "red" forces were at times constrained in order to achieve necessary goals.

"There are certain things you must accomplish and you are constrained by the time in which it takes to do it, so sometimes you interfere a little bit," Kernan pointed out.

The assessment of Millennium Challenge is still in progress, Kernan said, adding that it's part of DoD's "transformational journey." The next major joint experiment, he noted, is slated for 2004.

"What we were looking for is how we can be more lethal, more responsive, more agile," Kernan said, adding that the experiment points the way to how U.S. forces can dominate the battle space.

"Not only today, but also tomorrow," he concluded.

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Related Sites:
DoD News Transcript: Gen. Kernan And Maj. Gen. Cash Discuss Millennium Challenge's Lessons Learned, Sept. 17, 2002

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