Testing Ways To Fight The Next War

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Testing Ways To Fight The Next War

by Jim Mathews

05/12/00 11:36:10 AM U.S. EDT

U.S. Joint Forces Command planners in Norfolk, Va., this summer will begin experimenting with their first “integrating concept” under the Joint Vision 2010 blueprint for future warfighting – Rapid Decisive Operations, an attempt to tailor large-scale U.S. forces to smaller scale operations.

Planners will try to figure out how “in a matter of days instead of months, [to] project sufficient military capability across global distances and incapacitate a capable regional power,” explains Dave Ozolek, a senior engineer adviser for the JFCOM’s Joint Experimentation Directorate. The idea is to move away from traditional tactics aimed at exhausting an enemy – waiting for attrition to weaken a foe’s forces, for example – toward pinpoint attacks on elements that give an enemy his coherence. The studies this summer will compare three Rapid Decisive Operations alternatives with the performance of today’s forces in the same scenario.

Strategists looked ahead at the sort of foe U.S. forces might encounter, concluding that a regional power’s troops would outnumber U.S. forces, have the ‘home field advantage,’ and would field a competent information operation program. Moreover, conflicts during the 1990s taught top U.S. brass – sometimes the hard way – that a modern foe is likely to be willing to inflict and sustain significant military and civilian casualties, and has no time limits on how long it can remain engaged.

Ozolek says planners hope to respond by capitalizing on technologies and processes to make U.S. forces nimbler and more streamlined.

“Today when we conduct a campaign it is very deliberate. 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,” Ozolek says. In Rapid Decisive Operations, campaigns are planned simultaneously rather than sequentially – “move while we’re planning and plan while we’re moving,” he explains.

The American Forces Press Service contributed to this report

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