by SWJ Editors
Visualizing Transition from the "Bottom Up"
Observations from Joint Urban Warrior 2008
by Dennis Burket, Small Wars Journal
Joint Urban Warrior 2008 (JUW 08) was a United States Marine Corps (USMC) and United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) cosponsored seminar wargame that was designed to objectively observe and capture operational insights during a forces drawdown from an Irregular Warfare operation/environment. Participants were presented with an "OIF-like" scenario and asked to drawdown current US and Coalition forces to an "advisory organization" in two years. Using the JUW 08 scenario, participants created many visualization tools to help them describe what a two-year drawdown of forces/event-driven transition would look like from their viewpoint. This paper discusses a doctrine-based visualization tool developed during JUW 08 that both military and non-military participants found to be especially useful. This particular model was successful because it allowed participants to look at transition from the viewpoint of a tactical commander, or from the "Bottom Up."
The primary observation from using the "bottom up" approach was that functions were being transitioned to host nation or non-governmental organizations. From this key insight, participants developed several other insights. First, it was established that it is the timing of when functions are to be transitioned that should determine the future form (organization) of US forces; not the other way around. Second, an event-driven transition in an uncertain environment will require commanders to retain specific functions and capabilities to mitigate risks. And, third, by listing a function as transitioned on a chart doesn't necessarily indicate a completed action. In many instances some form of "overwatch" will be needed until a "good enough" point is reached by the organization to which the function is transitioned.