Expeditionary warfare and littoral operations,
Joint task force operations with dispersed forces,
Long-range precision strike against forces employing countermeasures,
Theater-missile defense, including counterforce and speed-of-light weapon options, against very large ballistic-missile and cruise-missile threats, and
Short-notice early-entry operations with opposition.
Each of the above warfare areas has major knowledge gaps that could be narrowed by empirical and theoretical research closely tied to the “warrior communities.”
The report describes key attributes of research programs for such warfare areas. An overarching theme is the need to take a holistic approach rather than one based exclusively on either top-down or bottom-up ideas. A second theme is that the research should be seen as focused military science, not model building per se. This will determine the type and range of people involved, and also the depth of the work.
Two examples may be useful here. The first is the challenge of developing command-control concepts for highly dispersed Marine Corps forces operating in small units far from their ship-based support and dependent on a constellation of joint systems. The Marine Corps is studying alternative concepts in the Hunter/ Warrior experiments. Such experiments need to be accompanied by systematic research and modeling of different types, perhaps including new types of modeling useful in breaking old mind-sets. It is plausible, for example, that cellular-automata models could help illuminate behaviors of dispersed forces with varying command-control concepts ranging from centralized top-down control to decentralized control based on mission orders. To its great credit, the Marine Corps is currently exploring such possibilities, opting to accept some “hype and smoke” in the realm of controversial complex-system research in exchange for new perspectives and tools useful in doctrinal innovation. While the panel does not believe such simplified models will prove adequate in the long run, they can be very helpful in developing new hypotheses.
A Navy example involves mine and countermine warfare. From prior research based on sophisticated probabilistic modeling accounting for numerous “configural effects” (i.e., effects of temporal and spatial correlations), we know that effective strategies for mine-laying or penetrating minefields are often counterintuitive. By exercising such models and simulation-based alternatives in an exploratory manner (as distinct from answering specific questions), it should be possible to develop decision aids of great value in training, acquisition, and operations. Such aids should not, however, focus only on “best estimate” single-number predictions; they should instead provide commanders with information about odds of success, as a function of information. If the aids are to be useful, they must be informed by an intimate understanding of operational commanders' needs.