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Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02) was a major war game exercise conducted by the United States armed forces in mid-2002, likely the largest such exercise in history. The exercise, which ran from July 24 to August 15 and cost $250 million, involved both live exercises and computer simulations. MC02 was meant to be a test of future military "transformation"—a transition toward new technologies that enable network-centric warfare and provide more powerful weaponry and tactics. The simulated combatants were the United States, denoted "Blue", and an unknown adversary in the Middle East, "Red".
 Exercise action
Red, commanded by retired Marine Corps Lt. General Paul K. Van Riper, used old methods to evade Blue's sophisticated electronic surveillance network. Van Riper used motorcycle messengers to transmit orders to front-line troops and World War II lighting signals to get airplanes off the runways without using radio communication.
Red received an ultimatum from Blue, that was essentially a surrender document, that Red must respond to within 24 hours. Given that Red knew that Blue was coming, by the second day of the exercise Red used a fleet of small boats to determine the position of Blue's fleet. In a preemptive strike, Red launched a massive salvo of cruise missiles, overwhelming the Blue forces' electronic sensors, destroying sixteen warships. This includes one aircraft carrier, ten cruisers and five out of the six amphibious ships. The equivalent of this success in a real conflict would have resulted in the death of over 20,000 service personnel. Soon after the cruise missile offensive, another significant portion of Blue's navy was "sunk" by an armada of small Red boats carrying out both conventional and suicide attacks, able to engage Blue forces due to Blue's inability to detect them as well as expected.
At this point, the exercise was suspended and Blue's ships were "re-floated" and changes were made to the rules of engagement; later this was justified by General Peter Pace as: "You kill me in the first day and I sit there for the next 13 days doing nothing, or you put me back to life and you get 13 more days' worth of experiment out of me. Which is a better way to do it?" In the new restarted exercise the different sides were ordered to follow predetermined plans of action, leading to allegations that the exercise was scripted and "$250 million was wasted". Due to his concerns about the scripted nature of the new exercise, Van Riper resigned his position in the midst of the war game. Van Riper later expressed concern that the wargame's purpose had shifted to reinforce existing doctrine and notions of infallibility within the U.S. military rather than serve as a learning experience. He was quoted in the BBC–Discovery Channel documentary The Perfect War as saying that what he saw in MC02 echoed the same attitudes taken on by the Department of Defense of Robert McNamara going in to and during the Vietnam War, namely the idea that the U.S. military could not and will not be defeated.
The biggest war game in US military history, staged this month at a cost of £165m with 13,000 troops, was rigged to ensure that the Americans beat their "Middle Eastern" adversaries, according to one of the main participants.
General Paul Van Riper, a retired marine lieutenant-general, told the Army Times that the sprawling three-week millennium challenge exercises, were "almost entirely scripted to ensure a [US] win".