Small Wars Journal

war games

Unified Quest Army Future Game

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 9:54am

We are in the midst of a uniquely challenging time in our Army’s history, although frankly it seems like we can always say that.

We still have a significant number of troops in combat in Afghanistan and continued involvement in the Philippines, the Horn of Africa and other places around the world and ensuring their success is our main effort. North Korea and Iran remain challenges we cannot ignore. We are on the front edge of a drawdown in an era of fiscal austerity. Lastly, our national strategy is shifting to focus on the Asia-Pacific region and broadening to a construct of “prevent, shape and win.” 

At the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, we consider these challenges and our national strategy, and determine how we might best shape the future force. One way to accomplish this is through our “Unified Quest” series of seminars, workshops and symposia.

Results from the UQ series will inform our revision of the strategic concepts found in the Army Capstone Concept and the Army Operating Concept.  Results will also help us implement Unified Land Operations Doctrine (ADP 3.0), particularly in consideration of doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities (DOTMLPF).  

The capstone event of this year’s Unified Quest is the “Army Future Game.”  This war game will examine the role of the Army as a decisive, adaptive force across a range of military operations.  During the war game, held June 3-8 at Carlisle Barracks, two working groups will address operational scenarios set in 2020 in the PACOM and CENTCOM theaters.  Free-play “Red Teams” will employ anti-access and area denial operations within an overarching hybrid strategy to enable a rigorous examination of key proposed concepts. Additionally, a strategic working group composed of more than 60 senior leaders and subject matter experts will examine key strategy and policy issues relevant to shaping the Army of 2020 and informing the Quadrennial Defense Review.

In the Army Future Game we are going to wrestle with some critical challenges. For example, we’ve steadily improved our integration and interoperability of special operations and conventional forces over the last decade of combat.  A key issue is how this integration should evolve to best defeat future threats.  Additionally, we’d like to develop thoughts on how we accomplish this at home station, at our national combat training centers, and in regional engagement activities.

We’ll also consider how we overcome the hybrid strategy of adversaries that combine the capabilities of conventional, terrorist, criminal, proxy, and irregular organizations and forces. To do this, our scenarios will cause our “Blue Forces” to closely examine how innovations across DOTMLPF might help defeat hybrid strategies.

Overall, we’ll examine about a dozen of these kinds of issues.  This analysis will provide us strategic and operational insight and potential implications for Joint and Army concepts.  Ultimately, we’ll develop recommendations to posture both the institutional and operational Army to successfully execute their roles during the 2018-2030 timeframe. 

This event will help leaders shape our Army as the operational environment changes, and as we transition our national strategy.  We’ll see the next step of this process in July, when the Chief of Staff of the Army leads a senior-leader seminar to review the insights and recommendations of the Army Future Game.  At that point, I’ll bring you up to date with what we think we have learned.  In the meantime, if you have thoughts on integrating special operations and conventional forces, or how we might defeat hybrid strategies, then please join in the conversation.  The more voices in the discourse, the better chance we’ll have of getting this right.