Dynamic Commitment: Wargaming Projected Forces against the QDR Defense Strategy

By Carter, Clarence E.; Coker, Philip D. et al. | Strategic Forum, November 1997 | Go to article overview

Dynamic Commitment: Wargaming Projected Forces against the QDR Defense Strategy


Carter, Clarence E., Coker, Philip D., Gorenc, Stanley, Strategic Forum


Conclusions

* The Dynamic Commitment Wargame Series, in support of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), provided an innovative and effective means of evaluating the suitability of projected U.S. forces to respond to the range of challenges in the defense environment anticipated by the Joint Strategy Review.

* The Dynamic Commitment Wargame Series informed participants regarding the expected future demand on forces, such that Services were better able to articulate the effect of the examined force options.

* Key findings included:

The projected U.S. Force (POM Force) is suitable, though stressed, to execute the strategy. [The POM Force is the Program Objective Memorandum five-year proposal of each Service that translates requirements and resources into forces, manpower and material.]

Forward presence remains a cornerstone of strategy execution.

The current force structure is fragile. Preserving the effectiveness of uniquely configured platforms or units in the face of force reductions, must receive careful consideration.

Despite recognized limitations, the potential for the Dynamic Commitment gaming methodology is significant, including its ability to allow examination of near-term alternative force structures.

Background

Section 923 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 1997 mandated that the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, complete "a review of the Defense Program of the United States, intended to satisfy the requirements of a Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR)." This review was to "include a comprehensive examination of the defense strategy, force structure, force modernization plans, infrastructure, budget plan, and other elements of the defense program and policies with a view toward determining and expressing the defense strategy of the United States, and establishing a revised defense program through the year 2005." The legislation further specified the report of the QDR was to include the "effect on the force structure of preparations for and participation in peace operations and military operations other than war."

In support of this requirement, the Studies, Analysis, and Gaming Division (SAGD) of the Joint Staff (J-8), working with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Joint Staff, combatant commands, Services, and national and defense agencies, developed a "Transitions" Wargame Series, that eventually came to be known as Dynamic Commitment. During previous defense studies, the primary driving factor in force sizing had been the force estimated to be necessary to meet the strategy of fighting and winning two major regional conflicts, with the elements of the force capable of responding to other contingencies viewed as a lesser included set. With these "other contingencies" drawing increasingly on both the time and resource commitments of all Services, it was essential that the QDR include an evaluation of the current and projected U.S. Forces against anticipated worldwide commitments. To more accurately assess the impact of these types of operations, it was deemed important to evaluate not only the force required to execute this wide spectrum of operations, but also the impact of "transitioning" rapidly between events across the spectrum of conflict. This dynamic commitment of U.S. Forces provided the wargame series its name.

Game Series Objectives

Dynamic Commitment was developed in the fall of 1996 as a strategic-level, force allocation wargame series with four principal objectives:

* Identification of the suitability of the POM Force to meet future challenges in light of key policies, strategies, and operational approaches;

* Identification of key diplomatic, strategic, and operational risks associated with the future employment of the force;

* Integration of various elements of the QDR process; and,

* Building a group of informed experts among game series participants. …

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