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Millennium Challenge Experiment to Restore Joint Concept

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2000 – The U.S. Joint Forces Command will sponsor an experiment called Millennium Challenge 2000 this summer. The command will work with the service warfighting experiments to help prepare the military for the challenges of the future.

"An exercise is practicing how we do things today. An experiment is looking at and testing concepts of how we may go to war 10, 20, 30 years from now because we know the world is changing dramatically and we must do things differently," said Air Force Col. Janet G. Tucker, public affairs officer for the Joint Experimentation Directorate. "So we exercise to stay proficient today, and we experiment to be proficient in the future."

JFCOM officials said Millennium Challenge aims to provide a "common joint context" for service and joint experimentation efforts. This initiative is long overdue, said Dave Ozolek, the directorate's senior engineer adviser. "One of the most important benefits from joint experimentation is that for the first time, we are starting to provide the services with the joint context before they begin their experimentation program development," he said.

The experiment will be held simultaneously at several sites: Fort Polk, La.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Hurlburt Field, Fla.; Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.; Langley AFB, Va.; Gulfport, Miss.; and the Joint Training Analysis and Simulation Center, Suffolk, Va. Naval forces operating in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico will conduct maritime experimentation. Joint Forces Command headquarters, Norfolk, Va., will serve as the overall Millennium Challenge headquarters.

The experiment marks an evolution in what it means to be "joint." But that's not to say the services weren't aware of the need for joint doctrine.

"Until recently, there wasn't a defined direction for joint future experimentation, so a joint context could not be a priority for the services," explained Marine Col. Bill Meade, the command's experiment director. "The bottom line is that the services have correctly focused on experimenting with concepts and technologies aimed at advancing their individual core warfighting competencies."

The differences in the services' individual "joint" visions were probably at the core of many of the interoperability problems the military has experienced, Ozolek suggested.

"For the last 40 or 50 years we've talked about the joint community being the synchronizer of service-provided capabilities, " he said. "The way we previously fought was to 'de-conflict' the battlespace." Generally, that means divvying up responsibilities so the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps didn't run into each other.

"What we're moving to is a new level of joint interoperability, something we call coherent jointness," Ozolek added. "The mission now is to provide that joint context, to give the services a common operational and technical architecture that they can build to."

Success hinges on getting the joint concepts out ahead of the service concepts. Millennium Challenge 2000 is the initial attempt to provide the services an insight into such new concepts as "joint interactive planning," a common relevant operational picture, and "adaptive joint command and control."

Joint Forces Command and the services have worked together to determine how service and joint concepts can be tested together. Experiment planners are also working with DoD science and technology experts and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

"The experiment is going to provide the services feedback on how well the capabilities they are building are meeting the requirements the joint community is establishing," Ozolek said. "It's important that we start to learn now not just how well the individual future service concepts work, but, just as importantly, how well they work together.

"This massive experiment will help us understand the services' emerging capabilities so we can further refine the concepts that will allow us to work well together in the heat of battle."

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