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Multinational Conference Focuses on Joint Solutions

Sara Moore, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2008 –

Representatives of the United States and its allies are meeting in Oslo, Norway, this week in an effort to develop joint solutions to common defense challenges.

About 230 participants from 33 countries are meeting at the Concept Development and Experimentation Conference to focus on the problems facing their armed forces and to develop partnerships to solve those problems in the long term, officials said.

This year’s conference, which began yesterday, deals with unconventional enemies and terror networks, strategic communications and military support for stabilization and reconstruction efforts, Navy Rear Adm. Dan Davenport, director of joint concept development and experimentation for U.S. Joint Forces Command, said in a teleconference from Norway.

The conference is an opportunity to bring together experts in concept development and experimentation from the multinational community, Davenport said. Concept development and experimentation, he explained, is a process of developing solutions to military problems by looking at all aspects of the problem -- including doctrine, training, organization and policy issues -- and then testing those solutions to ensure they meet the need.

Collaborating with interagency and international partners throughout the process is important, he said, because the United States is conducting more joint operations, and will continue to do so.

“We need to have solutions that work for everybody that will be involved in those operations, for all the players,” he said. “So it’s important to get the different expertise and perspectives and their requirements incorporated throughout the experiment to make sure we get the proper solutions.”

Conference participants are sharing lessons learned from past operations and working in focus groups on developing solutions to current challenges, Davenport said. However, since these challenges will need long-term solutions, the most important result of the conference will be the creation of international partnerships that can take the work beyond the focus groups, he said.

“We can’t expect that we will solve these kind of problems in a two-day conference, so what we hope to do is build those partnerships and continue that work once we leave here,” he said.

Davenport said he hopes to establish important partnerships at the conference, and to bring back insights to incorporate into Joint Forces Command’s experimentation work. Joint Forces Command already has established partnerships with many of the nations involved in the conference and works with them in experimentation, he noted.

“We’re not only more efficient, but more effective by working with those partners,” he said.

The results of this conference are important, Davenport said, because concept development and experimentation is a starting point for solving problems facing the Defense Department.

“It’s a source of innovation, and it provides a focused effort early in the solution development process for DoD to provide foundational solutions, and that’s both in terms of the concepts and capabilities,” he said.

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