Games Militaries Play

The Defense Department is abuzz with talk about a published report that the $250 million war game, Millennium Challenge 2002, was fixed to let the "friendly" forces win.

Millennium Challenge, which concluded earlier this month, was designed to test the Pentagon's joint service warfighting concepts.

"The money was well spent," said Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during an Aug. 20 press briefing.

But retired Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper, who commanded the game's opposing force, said the challenge was no challenge at all. In fact, Van Riper said he was so frustrated with the exercise that he quit midway through the game, according to the Army Times.

Van Riper said that during the war gaming, he discovered that guidance he had given to the opposition troops that he commanded was being countermanded.

Pace, however, said Millennium Challenge was an "experiment" and that there is a difference between an experiment, which can be tinkered with to see what results, and an exercise, which is more "free play," pitting one team against another.

"In Millennium Challenge, you had several cases of experimentation going on at the same time you had exercises going on," Pace explained. "For example, if what the opposition force commander wanted to do at a particular time in the experiment was going to change the experiment to the point where the data being collected was no longer going to be valid as an experiment, then he was asked not to do that."

Now, if we could only get adversaries to experiment correctly, everything would work out fine, right?

True Continuity of Operations

The Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon never halted the facility's operations. Yet it dramatically illustrated critical points of failure in the building's information technology infrastructure.

DOD officials are working to ensure that those points of failure are gone, said Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John Keane.

The Army is putting its primary servers at a location other than the Pentagon, he said during a presentation about mission continuity sponsored by Lockheed Martin Corp. and EMC Corp. That location, not surprisingly, will be classified, he noted.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon Renovation Program Office has issued a notice to bid-ders for its Command Communications Survivability Program.

The notice, issued Aug. 14, mirrors a presolicitation notice issued late last month.

The request for qualification will be issued within a month, the notice says. DOD will then narrow the field to three vendors, who will compete for the final award.

Double-edged Sword

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is stressing the importance of information assurance, arguing that it goes along with all the new technology that the military now uses.

Yes, the U.S. military has become a powerful fighting force, thanks in part to the gains provided as a result of information technology. But Rumsfeld warned that the dependence on network-centric operations means DOD needs to invest in ensuring it protects those networks.

"The emergence of advanced information networks holds promise for vast improvements in joint U.S. capabilities, and it also provides the tools for nonkinetic attacks by U.S. forces," he said. Potential adversaries could exploit vulnerabilities if they are left unchecked, Rumsfeld said in his annual report to Congress and the president issued Aug. 16.

"In a networked environment, information assurance is critical," Rumsfeld said.

Intercept something? Send it to [email protected]

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine,, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


  • Workforce
    Shutterstock image 1658927440 By Deliris masks in office coronavirus covid19

    White House orders federal contractors vaccinated by Dec. 8

    New COVID-19 guidance directs federal contractors and subcontractors to make sure their employees are vaccinated — the latest in a series of new vaccine requirements the White House has been rolling out in recent weeks.

  • FCW Perspectives
    remote workers (elenabsl/

    Post-pandemic IT leadership

    The rush to maximum telework did more than showcase the importance of IT -- it also forced them to rethink their own operations.

Stay Connected