Peace Time: September 20, 2002


The flap over Millennium Challenge 2002 wargames was about more than fixing the outcome in advance. The chief critic of the exercise, retired marine lieutenant general Paul van Riper, was also the commander of the "enemy" force. Van Ripers chief complaint, which he has been making for years, was that too many people in the Department of Defense see technology as a solution to all future military problems. What van Riper did during Millennium Challenge 2002 was use novel, unexpected, but pragmatic and realistic tactics to foil his high tech opponent. Like marines have done for generations, van Riper has been criticizing the Department of Defense for underestimating potential enemies and paying only lip service to the idea of American officers using their imagination when preparing for combat. While the Pentagon generals blurt out slogans about Information War and Military Transformation, van Riper keeps reminding them that well trained and led troops have more to do with victory than does using the latest gadgets, ideas and slogans. In the Pentagon, talking openly about poor training and inadequate leadership is considered bad manners an frowned on. Reports coming back from Afghanistan certainly indicate some problems how we are training our ground forces. That in itself indicates leadership problems at the higher levels. One interesting question is, will the Department of Defense stage another wargame to examine more closely van Ripers tactics? You would not need a very elaborate or expensive wargame to do this. If this doesn't happen, look for more problems with our training, leadership and military planning. 


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