In the early 1980s, the U.S. Army opened the National Training Center (NTC) as its main U.S. training venue for battalions and brigades. The NTC’s primary purpose was training, but because the simulated combat was fairly realistic, many hoped it would provide a sort of laboratory for identifying problems and exploring ways to fix them. This article describes a project that studied tactical reconnaissance at the NTC. The project’s substantive purpose was to look for problems in the organization, doctrine, equipment, and training for tactical reconnaissance, and to suggest remedies. Its methodological purpose was to learn how to measure reconnaissance activities and how to use those measurements for analytical purposes, neither of which had been done previously. This article gives background on the NTC and on tactical reconnaissance, and then traces the steps of the reconnaissance project. The two main methodological issues are how to gather measurements in venues like the NTC and what kinds of questions such venues can be used to answer. As it turns out, high-tech measurements are generally of little use. Low-tech measurements are useful for diagnosis (description) and hypothesis generation, predictions and causal inferences being fraught with hazard. Modest as these uses are, the NTC data are nonetheless highly valuable.
- Hypothesis generation
- Military analysis