- (AFP) - Some 13,500 people in 26 locations across the
United States will take part in one of the largest US Army exercises in
history beginning Wednesday and lasting three weeks.
- The "Millennium Challenge 2002" will combine
computer simulations and live military exercises with two headquarters,
one in Suffolk, Virginia, and the other in San Diego, California.
- The scenario, which is secret, will "cover the whole
spectrum, everything from terrorism to potentially a major theater of war
and the threats that loom in between there," said General William
Kernan, commander in chief of the Joint Forces Command, which coordinates
air, sea and land military forces.
- One of the keys to future supremacy is "interoperability"
between different government departments. Such cooperation has already
been seen in Afghanistan, for example US Navy planes dropped bombs on targets
"painted" by commando units on the ground.
- The details of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan
which fought the Taliban and al-Qaeda after the September 11 attacks, were
largely taken from a scenario examined by Central Command in May 2001,
- The challenge, which will cost about 250 million dollars,
will incorporate "lessons learned" from the Afghanistan campaign,
and will concentrate on minimizing the risks of "friendly fire"
against allied or civilian forces, Kernan said.
- Mastering the tools of war and information, should, according
to the Pentagon, "maintain knowledge superiority," over a multi-pronged
adversary who is often very knowledgeable about US vulnerabilities in this
- "Approximately 80 percent of the experiment is being
conducted through the largest computer simulation confederation ever built.
MC'02 is the largest and most complex military experiment of its kind in
- "We will provide our military planners and those
who execute the plan with an improved view of our adversary, the battle
space and possible solution to the crisis," including preventative
strikes, Kernan said.
- As part of the exercise, hackers from the "opposition
force" will try to crack military computers, drones -- unmanned aircraft
-- will watch marines on an amphibious assault or an extraction of soldiers
using a new high-speed vessel, or even the destruction of a missile silo
or other weapons of mass destruction site.
- The Pentagon is also aware that it is essential to balance
military might with diplomatic and economic action. It is essential, for
example, to know an enemy's culture, their personality, and how they might
react, said the general.
- To help with this the US Departments of State, Treasury,
Energy and others such as the CIA will also take part in the exercise.
- While the challenge is strictly a US exercise, similar
maneuvers have been planned for February on the Atlantic coast, and even
more ambitious war games are envisioned for two years time both involving
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