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War in Kansas!

There's a war on at the Army's Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. At CGSC, a thousand mid-grade officers from the Army, the other U.S. services and a dozens of foreign militaries study history, strategy and languages in freewheeling seminars of 16 people. And between classes, at computer stations scattered around this lush green campus, they command coalition forces in computer simulations modeled on Iraq and Afghanistan.I profiled CGSC for Military.com's Warfighter's Forum:CGSC.jpgIt's interesting to watch the class dynamics," says Brig. Gen. Jim Warner, the deputy commandant in charge of curriculum and faculty. "Typically, the first thing that happens is the infantry folks jump in and give a relatively direct authoritarian solution to the problem, which then broadens to include logistics and other assets. Then, typically, the sister services come in and talk about contributions everyone forgot could be played by them. The international officers are usually relatively reserved until the last few minutes, then they casually mention they've been working on this problem in their home country for 10 years ... and this is how they think we should tackle the problem.CGSC's joint and international approach to warfighting reflects a real-world trend and puts the school's sims years ahead of other realistic training in the U.S. military. Both the Army and Marine Corps have created elaborate simulated Iraq exercises, at Ft. Polk and Twentynine Palms respectively, but these tactical and operational exercises remain mostly stovepiped for single services. The Army keeps to their sandbox at Polk, the Marines to theirs at Twentynine Palms.To be fair, CGSC's command-post exercises are cheaper and simpler than the sprawling kinetic tactical exercises. It's easier to bring sister-service and foreign participants into a sim that mostly involves sitting around a computer talking out problems.And besides, the stovepiped nature of the tactical exercises reflects a battlefield reality: despite integration on the strategic and high-operational levels, at the level of companies and battalions, the U.S. services keep mostly to themselves. Marine battalions are lifted into the fight by Marine helos and get their air support from Marine jets refueled by Marine tankers. Army battalions are supported mostly by other Army assets.But even this DIY age, the military works in a top-down fashion. Expect the jointness we see at CGSC to keep trickling down to the grunts on the ground. More on that later.-- David AxeP.S. -- I've inked a deal to write breaking news for Military.com. Check out the very first, on the Army deployment cycle, here.

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