Millennium Challenge IDs systems

Millennium Challenge

The recently completed Millennium Challenge identified a pair of key concepts and some information technology-heavy systems as warranting "immediate investment," while others are promising but need more work, according to the commander who led the experiment.

Millennium Challenge, or MC 02, was the largest-ever joint military experiment designed to see how well the individual services' critical systems link with one another. The goal was to have the systems operate jointly to support ground, sea and air forces.

Speaking Sept. 17 at a Pentagon press briefing, Army Gen. William Kernan, commander in chief of the Joint Forces Command, identified the two concepts mature enough for implementation:

* The Standing Joint Force Headquarters, which collects data about potential adversaries so that U.S. forces get a more comprehensive view of the enemy than in the past.

* The Joint Interagency Coordination Group, which includes representatives and systems that link policy, strategic, operational and tactical actions.

Kernan also said the collaborative information environment "is something we need to bring into our inventory immediately." It is a system that enables Joint Forces commanders to do collaborative and parallel planning without the need for much integration because "everybody [has] the same hardware and software," he said.

Another capability that emerged from MC 02 with an immediate impact is the Joint En-route Mission Planning and Rehearsal System-Near Term (JEMPRS-NT). This system enables a joint task force commander to use real-time intelligence, including chat rooms, streaming video, voice and whiteboards while on the move.

The JEMPRS-NT is completely Web-based and uses commercial and government off-the-shelf technologies. It was used during MC 02 to coordinate operations among more than 400 planners and commanders. The system costs about $500,000 and is being integrated onto the aircraft of Army Gen. Tommy Franks, commander in chief of the U.S. Central Command, Kernan said.

But not all of the concepts tested in MC 02 are ready for battle, particularly effects-based operations (EBO) and operational net assessment (ONA), Kernan said.

Effects-based operations allow forces to target specific infrastructure, including military, political and economic, to bring about a desired effect. Operational net assessment is a "system of systems" analysis of intelligence and information — including political, military, economic, social and infrastructure factors of the enemy.

Kernan said he believed that effects-based operations, supported by the operational net assessment system, would be the joint warfighting concept our nation employs in the future. "But it ain't ready yet," he said.

One area identified for "outright improvement" after MC 02 was information operations, which includes a wide array of systems and actions such as virtual warfighting and blanketing an enemy with leaflets. Kernan said a "bridge" among the policy, doctrine and tactical levels must be defined for information operations to reach its potential.

Overall, Kernan said that MC 02 was "an experiment in experimenting" and that a 200-person team is still going through data for him to brief Defense Department Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the experiment's ultimate findings.

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