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Rumsfeld Visits Millennium Challenge Experiment

Rumsfeld Visits Millennium Challenge Experiment

By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service.

Suffolk, Virginia -- (AFPS) July 29, 2002 -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld got a glimpse of how the military of tomorrow will work during a tour of the Millennium Challenge 2002 experiment here today.

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Norwegian Minister of Defense Kristin Krohn Devold hold a press conference at the Joint Forces Command's Millennium Challenge 2002 experiment in Suffolk, Va.

Photo by Jim Garamone

Rumsfeld said he was pleased with the way the experiment is progressing. Millennium Challenge 2002 is the largest joint experiment in U.S. history. More than 13,500 troops from all services are participating. The experiment also has the largest computer simulation "federation" ever put together.

"This exercise will test the forces and equipment that will help us judge and define both near-term and future capabilities," he said during a press conference. "It will not only test the effectiveness of the force, but also the progress we have made thus far in transforming (the military) to produce the combat capability necessary to meet the threats and the challenges of the 21st century."

The U.S. Joint Forces Command is running the experiment. The command has been leading the transformation effort, Rumsfeld said. Millennium Challenge will test a number of concepts. The most important of these is effects-based operations, a concept where the entire power of the United States is concentrated against an enemy. As the United States has done in Operation Enduring Freedom, an effects- based operation would concentrate military, diplomatic, financial, law enforcement and other assets against a foe.

The experiment tests concepts used in asymmetrical warfare. In most cases, asymmetrical warfare is what the enemy can do. But Rumsfeld pointed out that the United States has asymmetrical advantages of its own. Experiments like Millennium Challenge allows the United States to define the doctrine needed to fight the conflicts of the 21st century, man the forces appropriately, test the technologies that seem most helpful and then continue the processes.

"Transformation is not a destination," said one Joint Forces Command official. "We'll stop transforming only if the bad guys stop morphing, and that doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon."

Joint Forces Command has already provided many concepts being used in Operation Enduring Freedom. Rumsfeld said the command envisioned many processes being used today in the war on terrorism.

"That's why experiments like Millennium Challenge are so important to future battlefield successes," he said. "It will help us create a force that is not only interoperable, responsive, agile and lethal, but one that is capable of capitalizing on the information revolution and the advanced technologies that are available today."

Rumsfeld said one important aspect is for service members to think "joint." He said Millennium Challenge is taking thousands of people across the services and placing them in a situation "where they are required to connect with each other, talk to each other, to be interoperable, to be joint, to think joint and to focus on goals that are not service-centric but nation-centric."

He said one of the most difficult jobs in the Defense Department is to get the services to make decisions jointly. In the past working in a joint environment meant the services taking separate pieces of the action – the Navy stays on the water; the Army on land; the Air Force handles bombardment in this area; and the Marines engage in another area.

"Those days are gone," Rumsfeld said. He said combatant commanders don't care who provides the combat power, just that the targets get hit.

Rumsfeld said the U.S. military has to find ways to get more people thinking about joint matters earlier.

"We cannot allow each service to come up with their own weapon systems that have not been thought through in the context of how we're going to use them on the battlefield," he said.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).