By Ann Roosevelt

The future joint operational concepts expressed in the Capstone Concept for Joint Operations (CCJO) were validated in a U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM)-led seminar wargame, but the resulting recommendations are classified, an official said.

“First and foremost, the CCJO stood up to the test,” Rear Adm. Dan Davenport, director of J9 Joint Concept Development & Experiment Directorate at JFCOM, said at a roundtable Oct. 9. “The experiment validated the CCJO is a viable framework for conducting future joint operations,” as well as a guide to future force development.

“We did find areas where additional concept development work is needed to further flesh out the ideas in the CCJO and those will be the focus of future work we do here in Joint Forces Command and across DoD,” he said.

Initially, the CCJO war game was expected to produce an unclassified report, but what came up caused the report and recommendations to be stamped secret.

“We designed the experiment to stress the joint force and it did that well,” Davenport said. “In doing so, we identified a number of gaps and vulnerabilities that we just can’t discuss in public forums. When we reviewed the results of the experiment, we made the decision to classify the report. The fact that we uncovered vulnerabilities during the wargame in this experiment is not surprising, that was the intent of the wargame, but when we were able to see all the information together that we started asking ourselves some pretty hard questions.”

The wargame, focusing on the strategic and operational level, included all the services and combatant commands as well as government agencies and key multinational partners (Defense Daily, June 8).

Results of the war game are available for those who have a need to know, particularly those in areas with the authority and resources to make change based on those recommendations and concerns, he said.

The point was “to ensure the joint force is really ready to face the future challenges,” Davenport said. Toward this end, JFCOM in late 2008 produced a Joint Operating Environment (JOE) document, delineating a strategic framework offering trends and possibilities for a future joint operating environment–somewhere around 2020. The CCJO is the product of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, grounded in the JOE.

War game scenarios featured a state competitor, a failing state, and a third with globally networked non-state actor. A freethinking enemy force had an active voice in determining findings evaluated CCJO concepts.

Without going into specifics, Davenport said the war game offered some of the toughest problems the future force is expected to face. Some problems were recognized as potential game changers. However, none were showstoppers.

The war game helped identify needed capabilities and to be able to build in adaptability in the joint force to deal with future challenges, “even though we know that the situation will be different and it will change rapidly,” he said.

As an example, Davenport said one challenge specifically addressed was operating in a degraded or denied network environment. “We know that our adversaries will increasingly test us in the cyber domain. Reliance on robust computers and networks equates to vulnerability.”

While the denied and degraded network environment had an impact on the strategic and operational level, “it did not stop our operations in the wargame or keep [the] blue [force] from achieving the objectives.”

Thus, the wargame did emphasize the need to operate independently based on adequate mission orders and commanders’ intent, even without the network.

Extensive recommendations in this area fall into two categories, he said: “The need to improve the capabilities of our systems to be resilient and redundant in the face of cyber threats and the need to regularly train our forces to operate in degraded or denied network environments.”

Another area of interest and discussion was what the military calls the battle of the narrative, where forces will operate in areas with multiple forces vying for belief and following.

“In the war game [the] Red [force] was often able to maintain initiative in the battle of the narrative forcing blue to be largely reactive,” he said. “The experiment showed that a comprehensive, flexible and culturally informed strategic communications capability is critical. The joint force commanders’ communication strategy must be nested in the national narrative built in concert with partners.”

JFCOM is now working to turn war game recommendations into action to drive change.

“One of the first things we’re doing here at Joint Forces Command is make sure that the CCJO is incorporated in doctrine and leader development throughout the services and joint professional military education curriculums,” Davenport said. Both the Army and Marines are folding CCJO into their draft Capstone Concepts.

At JFCOM’s J-9, a number of areas were identified that need fleshing out, and several projects are kicking off now.

For example, the CCJO posits four basic military actions in facing challenges: combat, security, engagement and relief and reconstruction. J-9 plans to develop a concept paper in each of the four areas to further define what those operations would look like and what capabilities are needed to support them.

Another thrust is to develop a strategy to define and integrate national activities as needed, with supporting efforts as needed.

The key is to take the insights and recommendations from the war game and turn them into action, Davenport said. “There’s a lot of work to do.”