CARLISLE BARRACKS, Penn. (Army News Service, June 8, 2012) -- The Army's role in the nation's future defense strategy is becoming broader and the Training and Doctrine Command is working to ensure that it is ready.

"As we transition out of the wars [in Iraq and Afghanistan] and the national security policy becomes more broad, and we begin to look at the Pacific and other areas, then we kind of have to open the aperture more," said Col. Bob Simpson, the lead integrator of the Army 2020 Campaign of Learning.

The Future Games is a capstone exercise held to test the ideas that have been generated by Unified Quest 2012 over the course of the past year. The games were held June 3-8, at Carlisle Barracks, Penn.

"We have brought in a collection of people to challenge our notions -- to subject (our notions) to some critical thinking," Simpson said.

Participants in the games were broken into two groups. The operational group participated in the game and tested ideas and concepts. The strategic working group looked at the tactical results of the game and discussed how doctrine could be developed to support Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno's vision of how to deal with future threats to the Army.

The Future Games is a computer-based simulation that pitted a "blue force," which represents the U.S. and coalition forces, against a "red force," which represented a fictional failed nation that is supported by a neighboring nation that is not an ally of the United States.

"I have charged the red teams that I have with trying very hard to win against U.S. and coalition forces in two very challenging scenarios," said Brig. Gen. William C. Hix, director of the Concept Development and Learning Directorate at the Army Capabilities Integration Center.

Two scenarios were played out in the game. First was an unclassified scenario modeled after the Middle East. The second was a classified scenario focused on the Pacific region. The Pacific is key to the Department of Defense's change in strategy and will be part of planning for future operations.

"We used the unclassified scenario so we could get more [multi-national partners] involved, so we can gain insight from their operational experiences," Hix said.

America's multi-national partners have experience working side-by-side with the United States in the wars of the last decade, as well as experience gained independently or from working with other nations.

Hix explained that the classified scenario allowed U.S. and partner nations to dig into the capabilities of both the United States and its potential enemies.

The strategic working group included senior officers, senior civilian leadership, and members of think tanks. The group also included outspoken critics of the Army. Together they discussed a series of issues that the Army developed through prior seminars and sessions and then tested during the two scenarios.

"This is about exploration," Simpson said. "We explore and identify ideas, and as those mature and become concepts then we take them to the next level, which is the experimentation phase."

The Army has been focused on a difficult but fairly narrow problem set for the last 10 years, Simpson said.

"With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan you didn't have to do a lot of modeling because you are in the fight and you see the behavior and are dealing with it," Simpson said. "Your adaptation and requirements are being driven by actual events on the ground in real time."

The Future Games itself is a transitional game that adapts to the needs of the Army and the nation. The role of the military evolves and changes depending on many different factors. Questions must be asked before they become reality. The game helps the Army chief of staff think about the future.

Simpson said when he started doing Future Games they were about designing the Army of the future. He is now finishing up his ninth iteration of the Future Games. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan it was about looking at the near term problems and finding solutions.

"Of course that was absolutely appropriate because you have men and women fighting downrange, so we were looking at the kinds of problems we could address in the near term," Simpson said. "Now we have an evolving strategic policy with an emphasis on the Pacific, so coming out of the wars, we have to make some design changes to the Army."