Leadership: September 10, 2002

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The Pentagon spent $250 million to stage a three-week wargame (set in 2007) to test its new joint warfare concepts. Retired Marine LtGen Paul Van Riper, commanded the opposing forces (a Moslem coalition supporting a broad range of terrorists), and became so upset over the way the game was being run that he resigned as commander halfway through. While the Pentagon announced the games as "free play" and said that "the enemy has a fair chance to win", Van Riper insists that the games were scripted ahead of time to produce a result that validates the new joint war concepts. Members of the Red Force insist that they were able to rip holes in the Blue Force (US) strategies from the start of the war, and had no trouble disrupting the methodical US attacks. Red Force blinded US signal intelligence by moving all orders by motorcycle courier, and sent a fleet of small boats to sink most of the Blue Navy (which the umpires had to refloat, just as the umpires at the Japanese wargames practicing the Battle of Midway did to their regret). While the Pentagon insists that only parts of the exercise were scripted (so that it could move along), Van Riper says that these key elements decided the outcome. In one case, the US was to launch an amphibious invasion of another country, but Van Riper's carefully deployed air defenses made the landing impossible. Umpires ordered him to move the air defenses out of the sector, insisting that (realistic or not) the exercise could not test the landing scenario if the landing could never be made. (Van Riper said this made his point.) Van Riper turned over command to his Chief of Staff when he discovered that this officer's real world boss (who was head of the referees) was constantly ordering him to change Red Force plans from what Van Riper had ordered to what would make the wargames move forward. While the Pentagon insists that Van Riper was simply upset over the lack of totally free play, Van Riper says he is worried that US forces will go to war in 2007 with concepts and strategies already proven to be failures.--Stephen V Cole


 


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