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A Fast Track to Innovation. Experimentation: What Can It Provide The Operational Level Commander?

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Final rept.,

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Service and joint experimentation programs have recently emerged as promising tools to expose warfighters to new technologies and concepts in operational environments. The timely question, however, is whether the experimentation process is indeed evolving in a manner that will allow it to provide both evolutionary and revolutionary improvements in warfighting capability for operational level commanders as they enter the dynamic 21st century threat environment. A review of the present direction of service and joint experimentation reveals many positive qualities. However, there is a tendency to explore primarily the high end of the conflict spectrum, and further, to focus on innovations that are technology-based and evolutionary in nature. Given many of the types of threats the U.S. military is likely to face, this is not an optimum use of resources. An increase in experimentation at the lower end of the conflict spectrum, as well as greater openness to both evolutionary and revolutionary operational, organizational, and doctrinal concepts, would provide a better balance. Furthermore, care must be taken to insure that U.S. Atlantic Commands new role as the Chairmans joint experimentation representative evolves into that of an integrator of service innovation rather than the driving force behind it. Now is the time to refine and optimize the recently institutionalized process of experimentation. The potential payoff to future operational level commanders is immense. There is, in fact, an unprecedented opportunity to institutionalize innovation itself, perhaps like never before in U.S. military history.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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