Wargame to Examine the Fall of a 'Megacity'

4th Battlefield Coordination Detachment commander speaks.
U.S. Army Col. Kevin Felix, 4th Battlefield Coordination Detachment commander, speaks during a transfer of authority ceremony at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Sept. 27, 2009. (Dustin Senger/Area Support Group-Qatar)

FORT EUSTIS, Va. -- It's 2035, and a city of more than 10 million people is in a state of crisis plagued by insurgency, internal corruption and struck by a natural disaster in the form of a major flood.

The challenges, opportunities and potential approaches for the U.S. Army to conduct operations in such a complex environment will be the focus of the Deep Futures Wargame, being conducted Aug. 17-22, at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.

The wargame is the culminating event in Unified Quest 2014, the Army chief of staff's future study plan, which examines a variety of feasible mid- to long-range strategic and operational settings and explores a broad set of ideas about future conflict.

Unified Quest is a series of rigorous intellectual planning seminars, symposia and forums with representatives from the Defense Department, government agencies, academia and subject matter experts who examine how the future Army must adapt, evolve and innovate in the face of a rapidly changing and complex world.

"The key to the Army's exploration is examining the continually changing character of war, the role of conventional and special operations forces in the land domain and finding gaps in capability and capacity," said Col. Kevin Felix, chief of Future Warfare Division.

The wargame is a continuation of an effort started in 2013 to anticipate the enduring and emerging challenges and opportunities for the Army from 2030 through 2040.

Throughout the weeklong event, participants will provide specialized insights into several strategic and operational challenges and identify shortfalls in Army capabilities, ultimately determining how the Army must operate, educate, train, organize and equip its force to inform future concept and capability development.

During his recent address to the West Point Class of 2014, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno emphasized the importance of megacities and the role of future leaders.

"Megacities present a unique operating environment: the scale, density, connectedness and complexity [being] far greater than anything the joint force has ever faced," Odierno said.

He further emphasized to the Army's newest leaders that because megacities are projected to double in the next 10 years, there is a high likelihood that they will conduct operations in such an environment.

During the wargame, participants will use computer simulations, acting as regionally aligned forces made up of military representatives from U.S. and coalition partners. They will respond rapidly to various scenarios, addressing the unique complexities of rapid urbanization in a megacity. This will better prepare the Army in developing future concepts, capabilities, capacity and doctrine that will help achieve operational success.

Participants will support two groups; an operational working group and an innovation group.

The operational working group will replicate U.S. and allied forces, and is tasked with planning and executing crisis-response and limited-contingency operations in support of the host nation. The group will use advanced technologies to improve the force's mobility, protection, lethality and sustainment. They will encounter strategic problems and collaborate to develop solutions based on their various fields of expertise. Specifically, they will examine how an Army should conduct expeditionary maneuver to confront emerging challenges and achieve campaign objectives in support of U.S. national security goals.

The innovation group will consider options for force design of the future.

The end state of the Unified Quest 14 Deep Futures Wargame will provide the Army new insights on future conflict, implications for possible scientific and technological investment, and ideas on how to prepare better for the future operational environment.

"Unified Quest explores beyond the boundaries of the known and distills ideas and concepts required for America to retain its tactical, operational and strategic advantage, in 2025 and beyond," Felix said.

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