PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Monthly Archives: April 2009

May 2009 USIP interagency SENSE simulation

seal_shadowsmallThe United States Institute of Peace has announced an opportunity for members of the policy community to participate in a three day run of its Strategic Economic Needs and Security Exercise (SENSE) simulation in Washington DC:

May 5th-7th, USIP, in partnership with the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), will conduct the Strategic Economic Needs and Security Exercise (SENSE) simulation at The Dupont Hotel in Washington D.C. The primary target audience is the USG interagency community, but other interested parties are also welcome. 

Participation is free, but space will be limited. Lunch/snacks will be provided; participants must commit to the full three-day simulation.

Overview

SENSE, developed by IDA, is used to strengthen capabilities of decision-makers to prevent conflict in fragile states and manage post-conflict transitions successfully. SENSE is a computer-facilitated simulation that focuses on negotiations and decision-making, including resource-allocation challenges and cross-sectoral coordination, for the full range of national and international actors. Sophisticated computer support provides participants with rapid feedback on the interactions of all the decisions in terms of political stability, social well-being, and a foundation for sustainable economic progress.
 
Over the course of three days, SENSE models the conditions in an imaginary country (“Akrona”) that is emerging from a destructive internal conflict. Players representing government officials, private firms, civil society, and international actors must identify, coordinate, and integrate economic, social, political, and military policies to foster recovery and reconstruction. SENSE participants must integrate all of these challenges; develop and decide on options; and deal with the consequences (both intended and unintended) of those decisions.
 
SENSE has been successfully employed (by USIP and/or IDA) in overseas training programs with participants from Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Georgia. USIP has also launched ambitious programs with Iraq and Poland:
 

  • USIP used SENSE to train over 130 officials from key Iraqi national security ministries; USIP then trained Iraqis to conduct SENSE themselves. As of late 2008, USIP and its Iraqi partners have conducted SENSE simulations for some 600 Iraqi leaders, from both government and civil society. Moreover, IDA worked with USIP to modify “Akrona” to be more directly relevant to Iraq, as well as to highlight monetary policy and terrorism.
  • In 2006, USIP partnered with the Polish Defense Ministry and the University of Warsaw to provide them with a SENSE delivery capability. In addition to the Poles themselves, USIP trained leaders from Ukraine, Moldova, and other ex-Soviet states; the Poles have since conducted a number of their own programs, including audiences from Belarus, Georgia, and Afghanistan.

In the US, SENSE has been used by USIP and GMU with academic and US Government audiences (including DoD (uniformed and civilian), DoJ, Joint Staff, State Department, and USAID), as well as representatives of NGOs, the UN and other international organizations, Washington embassies, and the private sector.
 
USIP is now collaborating with IDA and OSD to expand the capability of SENSE further, and to enhance the scenarios to include challenges directly relevant to Afghanistan. The new iterations of the SENSE simulation will be used to train US government officials involved in peace and stability operations activities.

For additional information on USIP’s upcoming SENSE simulation, please contact Jeff Krentel by e-mail at jkrentel@usip.org or by phone at (202) 429-4701. Online registration for the event is here.

positions at NDU in strategic gaming

There are three positions currently being advertised by the Institute for National Strategic Studies at National Defense University, dealing with strategic gaming. Summaries below, and much more information at the links.

Instructor, National Strategic Gaming Center

This position is at the National Defense University (NDU) in the National Strategic Gaming Center (NSGC) of the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS). The mission of NDU is to educate senior military and civilian leaders through teaching, research, and outreach in national security strategy, national military strategy, and national resource strategy; joint and multinational operations; information strategies, operations, and resource management; acquisition; and regional defense and security studies. NDU is a learning organization founded on knowledge management and is a center of excellence and innovation for professional military education in joint, multinational, and interagency operations.

The mission of the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) is to assess the emerging security environment, develop new strategic concepts and integrated strategies to manage complex challenges, and advance strategic thinking for the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff , Combatant Commanders, and other components of the National Defense University and Joint and Professional Military Education, as well as for the broader security community spanning the interagency and key national and international audiences.

Must possess earned Master’s degree in appropriate discipline which contributes extensively to the design, development, and execution of strategic-level tabletop policy exercises/simulations forNational Defense University, as well as for other academic, non-governmental, and interagency policy communities at the strategic and high operational level. Must have superior written and oral communication skills, and demonstrated analytical and interpersonal abilities. Must be able to obtain and maintain a security clearance at the Secret or higher level. Subject matter experts appointed with the purpose of identifying the best-qualified candidates will rate applicants on the basis of criteria listed below and the potential to successfully accomplish duties assigned.

You must be a U.S. citizen to qualify for this position.

 

Researchers (2), National Strategic Gaming Center

Serves as a full-time Researcher on Homeland Defense and National Security at the National Strategic Gaming Center (NSGC), Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), National Defense University (NDU). Under the direction of the Director, Strategy and Operations Division, the incumbent is responsible for supervising, designing, developing, and executing geopolitical, strategic exercises in support of the curricula of the colleges of National Defense University (NDU) academic programs and outreach programs including scenario creation and curriculum support for the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), National War College (NWC), Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF), Information Resource Management College (IRMC), and the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC). Designs, supervises development of, and participates in political-military exercises in support of Combatant Command requirements, and other activities as directed. The incumbent  is responsible for development of gaming programs for the academic, non-governmental, and interagency policy communities at the strategic level and for providing concrete application of gaming opportunities to the development of U.S. foreign and domestic policy.


Must possess earned Master’s degree in appropriate discipline which contributes extensively to the design, development, and execution of strategic-level tabletop policy exercises/simulations forNational Defense University, as well as for other academic, non-governmental, and interagency policy communities at the strategic and high operational level. Must have superior written and oral communication skills, and demonstrated analytical and interpersonal abilities. Must be able to obtain and maintain a security clearance at the Secret or higher level. Subject matter experts appointed with the purpose of identifying the best-qualified candidates will rate applicants on the basis of criteria listed below and the potential to successfully accomplish duties assigned.

You must be a U.S. citizen to qualify for this position.

Must be able to obtain and maintain a Secret Security clearance.

The deadline for application in both cases is May 8.

International Alert training/simulations

International Alert uses simulation methods in their introductory course on peacebuilding. 

Working for Peace in the Midst of Conflict: Is it for me?

Upcoming courses:  26-28 June 2009; 28-29 November 2009

Overview
This is a full-scale simulation course for individuals who feel they are ready for assessment, and do not need level 2 training. Put into teams and sent straight into the simulation ‘field’ as the ‘EU team’ you will experience what this sort of work entails. Teams are set objectives for the weekend and will meet with civil society representatives and local and international actors in order to achieve these objectives. You will be assigned an ‘observer’ for the weekend who will give you personal feedback and advice on further training needs and opportunities for professional development.

See also their courses on Introduction to Working in Conflict,  Core Skills for Working in Conflict, and Introduction to Election Observation, Monitoring and Documenting Human Rights Violations, and Introduction to Civilian Protection courses, which also use simulations as well as other training methods.

More information at the links.

UNHCR training simulations

Among the UN agencies using simulations for training purposes is UNHCR. One of my former graduate students (who went on to work for UNHCR) mentioned it when she was back in Montreal recently, and passed on the following article on their use (more at the link):

 

WEM participants undergo longer simulation exercise during training

By Jennifer Pagonis
In Schwabische Alb, Germany

UNHCR News Stories, 25 September 2006

SCHWABISCHE ALB, Germany, September 25 (UNHCR) UNHCR has extended the simulation section of its training for emergency response teams, placing participants under more pressure but also providing a greater sense of the reality they will face when deployed.

“We have recently increased the simulation period to two-and-a-half days from one day,” said UNHCR emergency team trainer Andrei Kazakov, referring to the Workshop for Emergency Management, or WEM. “It’s tougher on the participants because there’s no let up in the pressure as they move from one difficult situation to another and they have to get more involved and learn to perform as a team.”

The sense of reality for WEMERS, as course participants are known, was increased as the latest simulation exercise was held on an army shooting range in southern Germany’s Schwäbische Alb region. With tank and mortars firing rounds nearby, there could be no mistakes in map reading.

WEMERS had to confront aggressive military forces determined to turn away refugees; plan and manage a camp; provide first aid; survive serious security incidents and learn to deal with the media. Negotiation skills, radio communication procedures, four-wheel driving on rough terrain and using the global positioning system are an integral part of the training.

There are three WEMs a year – held in Sweden, Norway and Germany – training around 40 participants each time over nine days. The course in Germany is funded by the government and foreign affairs ministry and is run in close cooperation with the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief – the Bundesanstalt Technisches Hilfswerk (THW).


Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds Conference

Cross-posted from an announcement at the Association of Virtual Worlds:

Registration is now open for the Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds Conference (http://www.ndu.edu/irmc/fedconsortium.html), April 23 & 24 at the National Defense University (NDU) in Washington DC.

This is the main conference on virtual worlds for the government. We are expecting 600 to attend at NDU and over 2,000 online in 6 different virtual worlds. We will be live streaming the conference in Second Life (various locations will be posted on the website), Forterra, Protosphere, 3DXplorer, Vastpark, and Active Worlds. This year the program includes keynotes by Christian Renaud, The Technology Intelligence Group (topic: 2020: Technology and Immersion) and Michael Nelson, PhD, Georgetown, (topic: The Cloud, the Crowd, & the 3-D Internet – What’s Next for Collaboration Online); panels on knowledge management, augmented reality, intelligent agents & bots, education, state and local government, technical access solutions, and security; over 30 poster sessions of government projects, and a vendor fair.

If you have any questions, you can email FederalConsortiumVW@ndu.edu.

ISAGA 2009

The 40th annual International Simulation and Gaming Association conference will be held 29 June – 3 July 2009, in Singapore. From their conference announcement:

We welcome contributions that report on research and practice in Simulation and Gaming, especially focusing on the bridging of learning pedagogies, information media and communication technologies that support gaming methodologies. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to,

  • Games and culture;
  • Gaming in communication and language learning;
  • Gaming in economics and business;
  • Gaming in military; healthcare and engineering;
  • Mixed and virtual reality;
  • Learning from entertainment game

Who should come? Everyone! At least everyone who likes, or plays, or designs, or runs, or writes about, or does research into, or simply thinks about, games, simulations, experiential learning exercises, and related methods. We welcome contributions that report on research, design, and practice in simulation and gaming, especially contributions that combine technology, methodology and content, that build bridges among learning pedagogies, information and communication technologies (ICT), and simulation and gaming methodologies. Participants at ISAGA conferences tend to prefer practical and research-oriented sessions. Although the focus will be on learning-by-doing and reflection-in-action, the conference will pay attention as well to methodological and theoretical questions.

Cooperation and Engagement: What can board games teach us?

Quite accidentally, I came across the following very thoughtful 2008 Google TechTalk video on boardgame design by Matt Leacock. While the lecture is focused on games and not simulations per se, much of it—on graphic layout, playtesting, simplicity and challenge, engaging players in the story line, and fostering cooperative game-play, among many other issues—is extremely useful for simulation designers too.

Cooperation and Engagement: What can board games teach us?

Google Tech Talks, April, 25 2008

In February of 2008, Matt Leacock released Pandemic, a board game where players cooperate to save the world from deadly diseases that threaten to wipe out humanity. The game has been enthusiastically received, with its first printing selling out in less than a month. Matt will discuss how being an interaction designer affected the game design process as well as how cooperative games can point to new models for engagement in online systems. Pandemic’s BoardGameGeek page is http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/30549 Speaker: Matt Leacock Matt Leacock is a principal designer at Yahoo! Inc. When he’s not designing social platforms and products for Yahoo!, he dabbles in board game design. Matt’s ludography (list of game designs) is here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/designer/378 Matt’s work bio is here: http://www.socialtext.net/ocu2007/index.cgi?matt_leacock.

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