Many fire-dependent forests today are denser, contain fewer large trees, have higher fuel loads, and greater fuel continuity than occurred under historical fire regimes. These conditions increase the probability of unnaturally severe wildfires. Silviculturists are increasingly being asked to design fuel reduction treatments to help protect existing and future forest structures from severe, damaging, and expensive wildfires. The consequences of replacing the historical role of fire with fuel reduction treatments, such as underburning with prescribed fire, cutting with mechanized equipment like a feller-buncher, or a combination of both, remain largely unknown and require innovative operational-scale experiments for improved understanding. The Fire and Fire Surrogate (FFS) study is a large manipulative experiment designed by an interdisciplinary team of federal agency and academic researchers to address ecological processes, economic viability, and operational consequences of different fuel reduction treatments. Replicated at 13 installations on federal and state lands extending from the eastern Cascade Range in Washington to the southern coastal plain in Florida, this study is likely the largest operational-scale experiment ever funded to test silvicultural treatments designed to balance ecological and economic objectives for sustaining healthy forests. This paper describes the study objectives and research approach, provides a status of work at the different sites, and presents initial results of changes in stand structure and related understory vegetation as an example of the broad comparisons that this study allows. These initial among-site comparisons highlight the potential value of network-wide meta-analyses for determining the scale at which common themes emerge.