Expeditionary Warrior 2013
In February-March 2013 the US Marine Corps held its annual “Title 10” wargame, Expeditionary Warrior 2013. The game explored a future crisis in 2035 in the fictional country of “Karta,” at a time when geopolitical changes have limited US access to bases and China is more powerful and assertive:
EW13 utilized a fictional scenario set in 2035 Southeast Asia that presented operational challenges for a distributed joint force conducting engagement across the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) area of responsibility. The scenario revolves around the fictional U.S. ally Karta, made up of the real nations of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. When the King of Karta dies unexpectedly, a power struggle ensues between the rightful heir – the oldest prince who is a U.S. friend – and his younger brother, an anti- American traditionalist. When the younger prince takes action to stage a coup, the modern Kartan Armed Forces splinter into camps that pledge their allegiances to the rightful heir or rebel prince, or stay neutral. With a regional conflict brewing astride the strategic Strait of Malacca, a U.S.-led coalition seeks to protect the new king and coalition interests.
A world significantly different than today provides a plausible future beyond the next few budget cycles to stimulate imaginative thinking about FMO. Planners used a “Move 0,” executed in December 2012, two months prior to the Main Event, to establish the strategic assumptions and steady state force laydown within the EW13 scenario. The wargame created a different geopolitical reality that realigned U.S. force posture in the Asia-Pacific region and created operational stressors to the coalition responding to the crisis in Karta. These changes included:
- A newly unified Korea no longer hosting significant U.S. permanent basing on its soil, forcing changes to U.S. force posture and basing away from Northeast Asia to Southeast Asia.
- The People’s Republic of China (PRC) unifying with Taiwan after peacefully resolving decades-long tensions. At the same time, the PRC asserts itself in the region due to territorial disputes with other countries.
- A new Status of Forces Agreement between Japan and the United States prompting a reduction in the military footprint on the island nation. This also prompts U.S. forces to redefine the nature and size of its bases and enabling sites within the region.
The unclassified report on the wargame was published in June. The game was conducted in parallel with three different blue cells, led respectively by US Marine (A), US Navy (B), and Australian (C) officers. Each played the game rather differently. Cell A emphasized direct kinetic operations. Cell B stressed the importance of (shipborne) naval operations. Cell C focussed on information and cyber operations to deescalate the situation, and even when they had recourse to kinetic strikes emphasized “the need to communicate messages that articulated strength and a willingness to provide a ‘way out’ for the Kartan rebel forces.”
The report tends to highlight the findings of the wargame with regard to military capabilities, platforms, command and control, logistics and sustainment, and so forth. However, the very different approaches taken by the three cells—and the apparently greater emphasis of the Australian-led team on conflict deescalation—may be an equally interesting finding.