Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

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.


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 or by phone at (202) 429-4701. Online registration for the event is here.

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