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Joint Forces Command to Test Revolutionary Combat Concept

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 8, 2000 – U.S. combat forces of the future will be quick, they will be lethal and, most important, they will fight jointly. But how will this happen and what changes must happen in the military?

Joint Vision 2010 has been the blueprint. Detailing exactly how U.S. forces will make that vision reality is the question the U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., is working toward answering.

This summer, JFCOM planners will begin experimenting with Rapid Decisive Operations -- their first “integrating concept,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Henry Shelton.

“Rapid Decisive Operations emphasizes critical functional concepts, including attack against critical, mobile targets, which focuses on near-simultaneous sensor-to- shooter data flow and high-speed, long-range weapons,” Shelton said April 26 during testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Dave Ozolek, the senior engineer adviser for the Joint Experimentation Directorate at JFCOM, said during a recent interview that Rapid Decisive Operations is meant to deal with the operational challenges posed by small-scale contingencies.

“We have overwhelming military capabilities,” Ozolek said. “But in some recent operations, we have not been as quick or decisive as we need to be.”

He said the concept boils down to “how do we, in a matter of days instead of months, project sufficient military capability across global distances, and incapacitate a capable regional power.”

JFCOM officials looked at the operations the United States participated in during the past decade and made some conclusions about future foes. Under this scenario the regional power would outnumber U.S. forces, have the “home field” advantage and field a competent information operation program.

Two important aspects about each foe the United States has confronted in the 1990s have been their willingness to inflict and sustain significant military and civilian casualties and their ability to learn “with absolutely no time constraints on how long it takes them to accomplish their goals.”

The Rapid Decisive Operations concept marks a sea change in joint operations. “What we’re attempting to do is exploit the asymmetric capabilities that are unique to our nation and to be able to conduct an operation on terms that we dictate as opposed to having to react to terms the enemy dictates,” Ozolek said.

New geostrategic relationships, new technologies and a better understanding of operations drive the new concept. “Today, when we conduct a campaign it is very deliberate,” he said. “We do a sequential build-up, a deployment build- up, breakout, linear attack.

“Higher headquarters writes an order, passes it down to the next headquarters, which analyzes it, briefs back a concept then writes an order that it delivers to its subordinate headquarters,” he continued. "This goes on down the chain and the time available to each commander at each level gets less and less as it rolls downhill.”

In Rapid Decisive Operations, instead of conducting campaigns sequentially, the military would conduct them simultaneously -- “move while we’re planning and plan while we’re moving,” Ozolek said. So, instead of moving into an area and building up, as U.S. forces did during Desert Shield, they would move directly to the application of decisive effects against the enemy.

The concept would also put all commanders at all levels on line at the same time. “This would capitalize on the subordinate commanders’ detailed knowledge of the battlespace and integrate that knowledge with the senior commander’s broad vision,” he said.

The goal of the forces also changes. Rapid Decisive Operations shifts the goal from the attrition of the enemy to attacks on the coherence that makes his military forces effective.

"We will apply the principles we’ve developed in Rapid Decisive Operations into a scenario that requires us to do rapid force projection, deep operational reach and deal with a very rigorous threat,” Ozolek said of this summer's tests.

JFCOM experts will examine what happens if they put today’s force in that scenario. “Then we’ll explore three alternatives that will look at elements within Rapid Decisive Operations that may provide us with alternatives to our current programs.”

The intent is to see if an alternative gives us a higher degree of capability. “I anticipate that we will find elements in each of these alternatives that will give us specific capabilities. We will then integrate them into a consolidated version of Rapid Decisive Operations,” Ozolek said.

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