Professional Readings

Reading #157

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  • Friday, December 8, 2017

The Big Picture: Combat Development Experiment Center (Video)

“Experiments do not occur in a vacuum. They are related to concepts about the nature of war."

Williamson Murray


Army leaders use the Think – Learn – Analyze – Implement paradigm to drive Army modernization and develop the future force. Army leaders Think clearly about future conflict to establish a sound conceptual foundation of the future. As such the Multi-Domain Battle concept provides the starting point for Army modernization by describing how future forces will fight and by identifying the required capabilities they will require to execute operations. Army leaders then Learn from experiments, wargames, and assessments to refine capability gaps and ensure that capabilities are sound, complete, and integrated. Experimentation that occurs in a focused, sustained, and collaborative manner as well, as the follow on analysis, ensures that the Army makes sound investments that improve both the current and programmed forces' ability to conduct operations. Ultimately, modernization and experimentation are inseparable.

This week's professional “reading” provides a historical perspective on how our Army used experiments to improve operational effectiveness. In "The Big Picture: Combat Developments Experimentation Command," a video produced by the Army in 1964 as part of its "The Big Picture" series, the narrator highlights the importance of experiments and wargame as well as the role of the Combat Developments Experimentation Command (CDEC), a subordinate command of the Combat Developments Command (CDC). According to Department of the Army Reorganization Planning 10-1, dated March 1962, “Future doctrinal and organizational concepts require, operations research studies, feasibility tests, war gaming and field experimentation.” To achieve that end CDEC leaders considered “new trends and events” to determine how they intended to fight future wars and then developed experiments to examine capability effectiveness. After critically analyzing their findings leaders presented recommendations to Army leadership. While the video depicts units, equipment, and capabilities from a bygone era, the process depicted in the video essentially remains unchanged today.

Much of the successful experimentation depicted in the video depended on a dedicated experimental unit. The historical record indicates that experimentation with a dedicated unit has played a major role in the transformation of Army forces over the course of the last century. During the 1960s, for example, the 11th Air Assault Division (Test) was instrumental to integrating helicopters into the force. In the 1980s the 9th Infantry Division examined the efficacy of motorized infantry. Until recently, the Army’s dedicated unit for experimentation was 2d Brigade, 1st Armor Division however increasing operational requirements necessitated its return to an operational role. Successful experimentation enables leaders to not only understand the problem of future war, but also enables them to assess how the changing character of warfare will impact concepts and capabilities.

During the coming year, the Army is preparing to undergo its largest organizational transformation since the establishment of TRADOC and FORSCOM, to “establish unity of command and unity of effort that consolidates the modernization process under one roof.” The Army’s history of experiments and experimental units demonstrated a vital link in the pursuit of new weapon systems and new ways to fight. Experimentation enables disruption - the messy, chaotic work that is the hallmark of an innovative organization. The Army’s capstone experiment is the Joint Warfighting Analysis (JWA). Conducted by the Joint Modernization Command (JMC), JWA provides a venue for the Army to demonstrate and assess concepts and capabilities required for a more lethal force. JMC, in partnership with USAREUR and (ASA(ALT), will execute JWA 18.1 in Germany at the Grafenwohr and Hohenfels Training Areas between 5 Feb and 22 Jun 2018. Completion of JWA will accelerate force modernization efforts and enhance the Army’s ability to fight and win against a peer competitor. To request additional information on Army Experimentation and the Joint Warfighting Assessment contact Mr. Doug Fletcher, Chief of Staff of the Joint Modernization Command, at or (915) 569-8779.

“The Big Picture: Combat Development Experiment Center” may be accessed at

As you read the article, consider the impacts on the following Army Warfighting Challenges:
#1 Develop Situational Understanding:

How to develop and sustain a high degree of situational understanding while operating in complex environments against determined, adaptive enemy organizations.

#2/3 Shape the Security Environment:

How the Army influences the security environment and engages key actors and local/regional forces in order to consolidate gains and achieve sustainable security outcomes in support of Geographic Combatant Commands and Joint requirements.

#4 Adapt the Institutional Army and Innovate:

How to improve the rate of innovation to drive capability development and deliver DOTMLPF-P solutions to the warfighter at a pace that meets operational demand within the existing constraints of the acquisition and budgeting processes.

#8 Enhance Realistic Training:

How to train Soldiers, leaders and units to ensure they are prepared to accomplish the mission across the range of military operations while operating in complex environments against determined, adaptive enemy organizations.

#9 Improve Soldier, Leader, and Team Performance:

How to develop resilient Soldiers, adaptive leaders, and cohesive teams committed to the Army professional ethic that are capable of accomplishing the mission in environments of uncertainty and persistent danger.

#10 Develop Agile and Adaptive Leaders:

How to develop agile, adaptive, and innovative leaders who thrive in conditions of uncertainty and chaos and are capable of visualizing, describing, directing, and leading and assessing operations in complex environments and against adaptive enemies.

#14 Ensure Interoperability and Operate in Joint, Inter-organizational, Multinational Environment:

How to integrate joint, inter-organizational, and multi-national partner capabilities and campaigns to ensure unity of effort and accomplish missions across the range of military operations.

#15 Conduct Cross-Domain Maneuver:

How Army forces, operating as part of a joint, interorganizational, and multinational force, train, organize, equip, and posture sufficiently to deter or defeat highly capable peer threats in the degraded, contested, lethal, and complex future operational environment.

#19 Exercise Mission Command:

How to understand, visualize, describe, and direct operations consistent with the philosophy of mission command to seize the initiative over the enemy and accomplish the mission across the range of military operations.

#20 Develop Capable Formations:

How to design Army formations capable of rapidly deploying and conducting operations for ample duration and in sufficient scale to accomplish the mission.

Continuous feedback, collaboration, and teamwork are keys to the success of the Campaign of Learning and driving innovation in the Army. Please use the Army Warfighting Challenges as the framework to contribute your ideas and recommendations with respect to this topic to improve our ability to innovate as we develop the current and future force.

The Army Warfighting Challenges (AWFC) framework may be accessed here:

For previous weekly readings go to: ARCIC Professional Readings

  1. Army Operating Concept, TRADOC Pam 525-3-1, 30 October 2014
  2. Multi-Domain Battle

All the best,