Dad, what do you do?

By Alan Roan

I was having a conversation with my 9 year old daughter recently, when she asked what I did for a living.  I tried to explain to her that;

 I do this thing called Warfighting Experimentation. I make the Army try out new ways of doing things in muddy fields

To which her response was;

Dad, you sound like you are just playing with toy soldiers!

I wish it were that easy, but it did make me think that I dumbed down my explanation and that I had underestimated her. When she asks me again, what will I say?  Perhaps something more like this……..

Military transformation is about change

  • Transformation decisions rest on the proposition that developing better military capabilities will produce or cause better military effects.
  • Experimentation is uniquely suited to support transformation decisions. Experimentation involves changing something and observing the effects so that we can reach conclusions about cause and effect.
  • Experimentation is the preferred scientific method for determining causality.

Everyone else does it, why don’t we?

  • Experimentation has proven itself in science and technology, yielding dramatic advances. Can we apply the same experiment methods to the military transformation process?
  • Can the same experiment methods achieve similar advances in military effectiveness?
  • The Warfighting Experimentation Approach provides robust experimentation methods from the sciences can be adapted and applied to military experimentation and will provide the foundation for continual advancement in military effectiveness.

We do!

  • In its simplest formulation, to experiment is to try. In this sense, experimentation is a characteristic of human nature and has existed from earliest times.
  • When early humans attempted different ways to chip stone into cutting edges or selected seeds to grow sturdier crops, they were experimenting. When we try different routes to work to save commuting time or apply alternative rewards to get our kids to study more, we are experimenting.
  • Militaries have always experimented with potential causes to enhance effects; whether it was sharper-edged swords, projectiles delivered by gunpowder, ironclad ships, or nuclear weapons.

What is it?

  • Warfighting experiments are experiments conducted to support the development of operational military concepts and capabilities.
  • Military concepts focus on ways to conduct military operations while capabilities focus on the means to execute the concepts.
  • Warfighting experiments belong to applied rather than pure research; they are often executed in field or operational settings rather than in the laboratory.
  • These experiments include human participants, usually military personnel, rather than animal, plant, or physical elements in the experiment.


Do you think this will pass muster with an inquisitive 9 year old?