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War games rigged? General says Millennium Challenge 02 ‘was almost entirely scripted’
Navy Times ^ | August 16, 2002 | Sean D. Naylor

Posted on 08/16/2002 3:21:19 PM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity

Edited on 05/07/2004 10:11:49 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

The most elaborate war game the U.S. military has ever held was rigged so that it appeared to validate the modern, joint-service war-fighting concepts it was supposed to be testing, according to the retired Marine lieutenant general who commanded the game

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TOPICS: Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: miltech; warlist
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This is very disturbing. I consider retired Marine Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper to be very credible.
1 posted on 08/16/2002 3:21:19 PM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity
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2 posted on 08/16/2002 3:22:49 PM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity
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To: *miltech; *war_list
3 posted on 08/16/2002 3:27:36 PM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity
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To: Excuse_My_Bellicosity
Sounds to me that Van Riper is one heck of a tactician! He probably is not appropriate for certain tests. Overkill. Good heavans. I don't CARE how obnoxious he is! Promote Van Riper! We need tacticians like him.
4 posted on 08/16/2002 3:31:50 PM PDT by Arthur Wildfire! March
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To: Excuse_My_Bellicosity
Nothing new here...that the ways its been for a long time.
5 posted on 08/16/2002 3:32:08 PM PDT by 556x45
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To: Arthur Wildfire! March
We need military leaders like Van Riper, not the polished butt-kissing business school fancy-boy politicians that are all too prevalent today. We should bring General Van Riper out of retirement, give him a fourth star, and pay him the maximum.
6 posted on 08/16/2002 3:36:22 PM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity
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To: Excuse_My_Bellicosity
“In anything this size, certain things are scripted, and you have to execute in a certain way, or you’ll never be able to bring it all together,”

Now if we can just get the real bad guys to follow the rules ......

Boonie Rat

MACV SOCOM, PhuBai/Hue '65-'66

7 posted on 08/16/2002 3:39:27 PM PDT by Boonie Rat
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To: Excuse_My_Bellicosity
Wow !
I have been reading lately about the Civil War/ War Between the States , and some of the apalling casualty rates seem to have been due to disgustingly poor leadership.

It's not particularly reassuring to see that same dunderheadedness in our time...especially when wide-spread war seems imminent !

8 posted on 08/16/2002 3:45:36 PM PDT by genefromjersey
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To: Excuse_My_Bellicosity
You only see a few great tacticians in a generation. Place them in high positions, and your army is twenty times more effective. Throw away that treasure, and most of the money you have spent on defense is wasted.
9 posted on 08/16/2002 3:48:48 PM PDT by Arthur Wildfire! March
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To: Excuse_My_Bellicosity
I like this guy. He reminds of what General (Vinegar) Joe Stillwell did during a major war game during the 1930s. He launched his attacked before the game was scheduled to begin and kicked butt! lol
10 posted on 08/16/2002 3:49:03 PM PDT by flying Elvis
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To: Arthur Wildfire! March
"There are no bad regiments, only bad colonels."
-- Napolean
11 posted on 08/16/2002 3:54:23 PM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity
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To: Excuse_My_Bellicosity
Yes, it is disturbing. From my experience, the OPFOR almost always won. I think you learn more from your defeats than just going in and having the OPFOR put up a show of resistance and then roll over and play dead. It was always amusing in Hohenfels/CMTC to see the carefully laid plans of the Colonel go tits up within 15 minutes of the start of the battle.

One minor point I differ with the General- you have to resurrect the forces after each mission/phase. Ok, you write that particular aspect where you lost off as a "loss" and then you continue with the other missions to test how well they work. They might all be losses, who knows? But it would be an incredible waste of time, money and the evaluation opportunity to just go home after the Red Commander kicked your butt in the first day. For example, you don't deploy a brigade sized element to Hohenfels, gear 'em up to go into the evaluation and then just stop when the OPFOR defeats you- because that normally happens on Day One. You still have to perform your other missions so your commander can evaluate where you need to train and where your strengths lie.

Other than that though, I agree with the General's concern. If something ain't working- we need to know about it before we try it on the battlefield.

12 posted on 08/16/2002 3:58:37 PM PDT by Prodigal Son
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To: genefromjersey
I don't think there is much discustingly poor leadership in the modern US military. But a genious can make it look that way. I've read a lot of history. When you look at Alexander the Great, William the Conqueror, Hannibal, General Lee, MacArthur, Rommel, Napoleon, and many others, you realise that you darn well can not afford to lose those treasures, even if you had to offer them 10 million a year to lead-- small price to pay. At the very least, a president ought to visit his house and do everything he can to convince the guy to take charge as a Top Tactical Advisor. And anyone who has a problem with his attitude can leave the room. LOL. Heck. Do it in secret if need be. But tap into that man's mind.
13 posted on 08/16/2002 4:02:10 PM PDT by Arthur Wildfire! March
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To: Excuse_My_Bellicosity
There is more to this than the article states.
The article is championing a maverick general that is trashing a wargame that he lost. Fine. . .but. . .the rest of the story is just as important.

Wargames of the national/joint level are not at all like tactical exercises in the local back-40 at Fort Irvin, Red Flag, or anywhere like that. They are highly complex and use many different levels of command and control and technology and procedure. Exercises of this nature are primarily designed to test the ability to coordinate and integrate, on a national/theater/joint level, all the forces of the United States. This is a far cry from what Van Riper is used to playing in.

Another complicating factor are having to deal with expected capabilities vs. what we have today. Many technology and weapon systems are under development and emerging technologies are vetted during these exercises. Perhaps the general didn’t like having to fight weapons that are beyond “smart.”

It does not good to lie to ourselves during these exercises, and exercises of this level are so complex, in-depth and expansive, many assumptions have to be made, and apparently these assumptions bothered Van Riper. Fine, but if he is to play in these types of exercises he should think about two levels higher than he is used to operating.

Another thing, exercises are notoriously more difficult than the real mission, as we challenge our capabilities. This means that when the war starts we find we win faster and save more lives—on both sides. For example, in May of ’90 I participated in a joint exercise at Ft Bragg. It was a computer exercise where Iraq invades Kuwait and goes into Saudi. Sound familiar? Anyway, we won that exercise but we took a heck of a lot more casualties than in the real war.

As far as doctrine and sloganeering, not so. We explore all doctrine (the way we think things be done) and challege this doctrine all the time--if it wasn't doctrine it would be dogma. In fact, the Air Force has a doctrine web site for anyone in the services, at any level, to take a hack (

Bottom line: This exercises was not a bunch of guys running around in miles gear or aircraft outfitted with ACMI pods. . .no, it was an exercise to test command and control at a national/theater level. Van Riper better calm down. He may be a great tactician, but he is a lousy national/joint/theater planner/fighter.

Some “free play” is more than other free play, and when Van Riper was limited as to WMD, he threw a snit fit. Face it, if someone throws WMD our way it is a whole new ball game, with the US going for quick and dirty win—nuke. Van Riper wanted WMD options that would have ended the game. Not good, and if he had that option, then why exercise at all?
14 posted on 08/16/2002 4:02:44 PM PDT by Gunrunner2
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To: Prodigal Son
One thing I'm wondering about is computer simulations. Has computer technology now reached a point that tacticians could match wits from computers? If so, how accurately could you test their skill?

My thinking is this. We could have a tactical skill evaluation of every officer and see how many are worthy of their rank or promotion.

15 posted on 08/16/2002 4:06:17 PM PDT by Arthur Wildfire! March
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To: Gunrunner2
My concern is that political decisions can bury the best and brightest. I realise that wasn't what this test was about, winning or losing. And I'm not really interested in that aspect.

What I care about is this: how many great tacticians get buried by the political boot lickers? And wouldn't it be great to have some official computer simulation test that could help the tacticians climb the ranks faster, while tactical idiots get demoted?

16 posted on 08/16/2002 4:15:24 PM PDT by Arthur Wildfire! March
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To: Excuse_My_Bellicosity
>>...Set in a classified scenario in 2007...<<

>>...when the Blue fleet sailed into the Persian Gulf early in the experiment...<<

>>...Van Riper took the initiative, issuing attack orders via the morning call to prayer broadcast from the minarets of his country’s mosques...<<

Hmmm..."classified scenario"...not any more.

17 posted on 08/16/2002 4:25:39 PM PDT by FReepaholic
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To: Excuse_My_Bellicosity
Lieutenant General Paul K. Van Riper (USMC Ret.)

General Van Riper was born on July 5, 1938, in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, and graduated from high school in Dormont, Pennsylvania, in June 1956. He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve and underwent recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, in the fall of 1956. After completing infantry training in April 1957, he was released from active duty and returned home to serve in the 12th Infantry Battalion of the Marine Corps Reserve. He graduated in June 1963, from California State College, California, Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He then entered the 34th Officer Candidate Course and was commissioned a second lieutenant in November 1963.

After completing The Basic School at Quantico, Virginia, in June 1964, General Van Riper reported to the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, 2d Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. While with the 1st Battalion, he served as a Platoon Commander, Company Executive Officer, and Assistant Operations Officer. He was with the 1st Battalion when it was committed to Santo Domingo during the Dominican Republic crisis in the spring of 1965.

In late 1965, he was ordered to the Republic of Viet Nam for duty as an Advisor with the Vietnamese Marine Corps. He was wounded in action on February 7, 1966, and was evacuated to the United States Naval Hospital in Philadelphia. After recovering from his wounds in April 1966, General Van Riper returned to The Basic School as an instructor. Upon completion of his tour in February 1968, he remained at Quantico as a student at Amphibious Warfare School.

General Van Riper returned to Viet Nam in September 1968, where he served as a Company Commander and an Assistant Operations Officer with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. Upon his return to the U.S. in September 1969, he was assigned as an instructor at the U.S. Army’s John F. Kennedy Institute of Military Assistance at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was transferred to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, DC, in July 1971, where he served initially as a Special Projects Officer in the Office of the Chief of Staff and then as a Training Specialist in the Training Division until August 1974.

Ordered to the 2d Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, in September 1974, he was assigned as the Operations Officer of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines. He became the Regimental Operations Officer in September 1975 and the Executive Officer for the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines in December 1976.

From August 1977 until June 1978, General Van Riper was a student in the College of Naval Command and Staff at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. Subsequently, he was assigned as a Military Observer with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine. During this tour he served in Egypt, Israel, and Lebanon.

Upon completion of his overseas tour in September 1979, General Van Riper was assigned as the Commanding Officer, Marine Barracks, Naval Air Station, Cecil Field, Florida, until July 1981. From August 1981, until June 1982, he was a student at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

General Van Riper was transferred to the 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California, in June 1982, and served as Regimental Executive Officer until May 1983, when he assumed command of 2d Battalion, 7th Marines. In August 1984, he was assigned to the Exercise, Readiness and Training Branch of the G-3 Section, I Marine Amphibious Force.

General Van Riper was transferred to the 3rd Marine Division on Okinawa in June 1985, where he commanded the 4th Marines until December 1986. He served as the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, 3d Marine Division from December 1986 until reassigned as the Division Chief of Staff in June 1987.

During July 1988, General Van Riper returned to Quantico, where he was assigned until July 1989 as the Director of the Command and Staff College. He became the first President of Marine Corps University, Marine Air-Ground Training and Education Center in July 1989. In July 1990, he was assigned as Deputy Commander for Training and Education and Director, Marine Air-Ground Training and Education Center, Marine Corps Combat Development Command. General Van Riper served temporarily as a member of the Marine Forces, United States Central Command/I Marine Expeditionary Force staff during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm from January to March 1991. From June 1991 to April 1993, he was the Commanding General, 2d Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Returning to Washington, DC, General Van Riper served as Assistant Chief of Staff, Command, Control, Communications and Computers and as Director of Intelligence, Headquarters Marine Corps from April 1993, until July 1995. He was advanced to Lieutenant General and became Commanding General Marine Corps Combat Development Command in July 1995. Lieutenant General Van Riper retired on 1 October 1997, after more than 41 years of service.

General Van Riper’s personal decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal; Silver Star Medal with gold star; Legion of Merit; Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”; Purple Heart; Meritorious Service Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Army Commendation Medal; Navy Achievement Medal; and the Combat Action Ribbon with gold star. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Airborne and Ranger Schools.

General Van Riper is married to the former Lillie Catherine Alford of Dillion, South Carolina. They have a son, Stephen, a Marine Officer, and a daughter, Cynthia.

Hicks & Associates is a wholly owned subsidiary of SAIC

Hicks and Associates

18 posted on 08/16/2002 4:34:08 PM PDT by SMEDLEYBUTLER
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To: Arthur Wildfire! March
Point taken.

However, while someone may be a great tactician he may also be a bad strategist and a poor leader. Van Riper was a great tactician, maybe even a good operational-level planner, and maybe even a leader of men, but as far a strategist goes, he needs to think "higher."

Yes, I have been around the rarified atmosphere of the center of the universe (DC), and the bootlickers do a great job of staying alive in the lower ranks, but when they get to the flag rank, especially multiple stars, they better not be "yes men."

They better have original thoughts and an ability to execute sound strategy. Does that mean we don't have inept generals? No, we have more than our share. It is the STAFF of the generals I worry about. You see, the STAFF writes the position papers, the STAFF researches proposals, and the STAFF provides the general with a list of options (and one option is usually the stand-out pre-selected option un-officially chosen by the staff). So, the general better be good at looking beyond PowerPoint slides and one-page point-papers.

As far as “testing” for tacticians goes, we already do that—in a way.

As you advance in rank you are evaluated to make sure you know your craft and can do it well. We also now have computer simulations that are included in every professional school. In fact, back in 1985, while a captain, I was in Squadron Officer School and we played in a computer exercise—crude, but effective.

As far as the “tactician” being identified for faster promotion—we are supposed to be doing that by evaluating the officer’s performance at professional school, exercises, how he runs his flight/company, the total picture. The problem with early promotions is that those that get promoted early are placed on an unofficial “fast track” and this leads to problems.

For example, I worked for a colonel that had barely 20-yrs total experience, and about 5-yrs of that experience was in a school somewhere and not in the field. He was able to plan a war, read and write papers well, but when it came to the un-definable quality of personal leadership, he was a stone-butt. Complete rag. He couldn't lead a bunch of Girl Scouts selling cookies.

So, we have to balance school/exercise performance with vetted experience and skill. These qualities only come from real life in real leadership positions. A career in school, with short tours of duty on a hi-viz staff job, does not make a great leader. Tacticians need experience, but they also need seasoning.
19 posted on 08/16/2002 4:43:14 PM PDT by Gunrunner2
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To: Arthur Wildfire! March
Has computer technology now reached a point that tacticians could match wits from computers? If so, how accurately could you test their skill?

As I left the Army, they were moving more and more in this direction. What they were doing, is having the key commanders and NCOs play out complex operations on computers- the players would still have to interface with each other via radio and learn how to integrate and coordinate with the other commanders. As far as a useful exercise, it seemed to be. It got the Lieutenants and Captains and E7s thinking about how to communicate and coordinate with each other and what kind of problems they could expect from that aspect of things.

But as far as being useful for the man on the ground- I couldn't see it. There are some things that a computer just can't simulate- weather is a big factor in any military operation. Look at the Hostage Rescue Mission in Iran- weather blew the whole thing. Extremes in cold, precipitation, wind or heat can have a debilitating effect on a fighting force. How does the computer account for the difference in morale that comes from having to stomp around in ankle deep mud as opposed to knee deep snow? How to account for Joe not being as alert on guard because you're into the negative temperature range? I just can't see it.

Computer simulations are a great suppliment for the brass to work on their strategies, tactics and coordination skills, but nothing will ever replace hands on leadership skills and testing them in harsh conditions- IMHO. That computer doesn't check to make sure Joe cleaned his weapon. That computer doesn't have to deal with Joe being unhappy because he didn't get mail or his buddy just got killed or because his ole lady has sent him a Dear John letter. Those things take boots on the ground from the Private right on up to the Constellation types.

Too often Generals walk around it a perfect cocoon of perfection. You find out a General is coming to see your unit, it's a$$holes and elbows getting everything squared away. It's a big dog and pony show. All the poor soldiers are taken far away. Only the strack ones are let near the General. When he comes, he sees everything perfect- but he doesn't see reality.

Some of the best Generals I ever saw were the ones that walked up to you and waved away your position of attention and salute "F__K all that shit, son! How's things going here? What kind of problems you boys having? You getting this mission accomplished?" They get a lot of bullcrap 'suck-up' answers but they also get a few little gems that let them know what the real sit-rep is. Those Generals are the ones that make the Colonels and lower ranking officers the most nervous. I had a Three Star put his arm around me and a buddy once and ask us questions similar to that. He had a Two Star, a One Star, a Full Bird and right on down the food chain to my Platoon Leader gaggled up behind him- looking on in consternation- hoping we wouldn't f__k up their whole careers by saying the wrong thing. The looks on their faces was priceless- but so was the Seargent Major's look. Capable of telepathy, the SGM sent us the message with his eyebrows that he would love nothing better than for us to say the "wrong thing". The officers might fall, but he, the Seargent Major, would spend many long and happy hours making us pay for our remarks. So, we gave the suck- up answer "We're getting it done sir!"

My anecdote aside- I don't think you'd want to go down the road towards having a computer evaluate your officers- might as well have the computer give the orders if we do that. And somebody still has to write the program. When you get near the top of the chain, their are a lot of powerful forces at work. Defense contractors that all want to sell us their version of war, political infighting among top officers, senators with too much corporate money in their pockets all exerting force on the objectivity of the "evaluation process". I don't honestly have an answer for what to do about it. That's the nature of the beast and in the end your weapon systems still get built by the lowest bidder. Murphy's Law always extracts his fee from Joe in the end- mistakes from the top result in blood at the bottom. That's the way it's always been and until we go fully automated on the battlefield, that's the way it'll always be.

20 posted on 08/16/2002 5:02:43 PM PDT by Prodigal Son
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