Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

simulations miscellany, International Talk Like a Pirate Day edition

Since September 19 be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, the Captains and crew o’ PAXsims be pleased to provide ye with a collection o’ simulation swag from around the vast seas of the interwebs:

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Defense News be reportin’ on the use of zombie-based training scenarios in the military, government, and private sector. Grrr, arrrgh, yarrrr!

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Defense News also be reportin’ on computer-based counter-IED training:

A virtual drill sergeant could soon be barking orders at U.S. military service members learning to find and mark improvised explosive devices (IEDs), one of the major threats to troops in Afghanistan.

The hand-held detector edition of Improvised Explosive Device Gaming and Modeling Environment, I-GAME, is a laptop-based virtual trainer that troops can use to practice proper dismounted IED-clearing procedures. It features 17 kinds of IED threats, several sweeping devices such as the Minehound, a first-person view to develop terrain awareness, and a virtual drill instructor to keep troops on track and correct their sweeping methods.

The trainer aims to put users into a realistic virtual mission, where they can go through a vulnerable area and practice proper clearing formations and procedures, culminating with marking a threat….

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Michael Peck, prolific scallywag that he be, has penned another piece on GCSC’s crow-sourcing of ideas for their new stability operations simulation in his shiny new War Games column at Forbes. Blimey!

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Chairman of the US Join Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and his mateys here be walking all over a large map of sorts, havin’ a parley about future US national security challenges from all manner of shifty bilge-rats and scurvy ne’er-do-wells. He seems to be a-standing on Russia what’s more, either pondering the global “Pussy Riot” crisis of 2017, or perhaps seeing if he can really see Sarah Palin’s window (ahoy, it be in the other direction).

Belay that—according to the New York Times, he be a-thinkin’ more about homeland defence:

“Strategic seminar” is the name Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has chosen for these daylong sessions, which were not exactly a war game more than a tabletop military exercise, and unlike anything the Pentagon has done to plan its future.

Shortly after being sworn in as chairman last October, a decade after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, General Dempsey said the military was confronting “a strategic inflection point, where the institution fundamentally re-examines itself.” The seminar project he started fits his goal: to try to build the right military force for five years from now — and not be driven by the budget cycle into a series of year-by-year decisions.

The overarching question is whether the Pentagon’s war plans need to be rewritten to take into account how the military has been affected by a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now by orders to shrink to fit mandated budget cuts. While the list of potential adversaries and the rising threats remain classified, the assessments from the sessions already are reshaping military planning. Initial findings have been presented to President Obama by General Dempsey, officials said.

One realization is that under any situation in which the United States is in an armed conflict within five years, American territory most likely would be attacked as part of an adversary’s actions, regardless of where the major fighting was focused overseas. That attack might be direct, by missile, or more asymmetrical, as in terrorism or via a computer-network cyberattack.

“In the future, our homeland will not be the sanctuary it has been,” General Dempsey told a recent military conference, during which he pulled back the curtain — a bit — on the strategic seminar project.

As a result of that seminar, General Dempsey said, the military’s Northern Command, responsible for defending United States territory, has begun work with the Department of Homeland Security, the F.B.I. and other domestic agencies to assess how potential demands for military forces overseas might affect security at home, and how any shortfalls could be resolved.

Another lesson from the seminars is that the Pentagon might have to organize and deploy forces in a different way than war plans now dictate if there is another major conflict overseas and simultaneously a significant attack at home, or the need to manage a catastrophic, domestic natural disaster.

“We assumed a conflict someplace, and we flowed the forces required to that conflict,” General Dempsey said. “We created a scenario where the homeland was attacked — or even if it wasn’t attacked, where there might have been some natural disaster. And it was remarkable.”

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Arrrr, in the “this not be new, but worth reading” department, we’ll be splicing the mainbrace to a handsome piece by Kesten Green and J. Scott Armstrong on “Role thinking: Standing in other people’s shoes to forecast decisions in conflicts” in the International Journal of Forecasting 27, 1 (2011). In it they be showin’ that while “role thinking” be no better than a squiffy swabbie in producin’ predictions o’ human behaviour, “role-playing” has measurable positive effects on yer predictive accuracy:

When forecasting decisions in conflict situations, experts are often advised to figuratively stand in the other person’s shoes. We refer to this as “role thinking”, because, in practice, the advice is to think about how other protagonists will view the situation in order to predict their decisions. We tested the effect of role thinking on forecast accuracy. We obtained 101 role-thinking forecasts of the decisions that would be made in nine diverse conflicts from 27 Naval postgraduate students (experts) and 107 role-thinking forecasts from 103 second-year organizational behavior students (novices). The accuracy of the novices’ forecasts was 33% and that of the experts’ was 31%; both were little different from chance (guessing), which was 28%. The small improvement in accuracy from role-thinking strengthens the finding from earlier research that it is not sufficient to think hard about a situation in order to predict the decisions which groups of people will make when they are in conflict. Instead, it is useful to ask groups of role players to simulate the situation. When groups of novice participants adopted the roles of protagonists in the aforementioned nine conflicts and interacted with each other, their group decisions predicted the actual decisions with an accuracy of 60%.

Although the journal version be hidden behind a paywall, ye can find an ungated version o’ their paper here. Free loot! Yo-ho-ho!

One response to “simulations miscellany, International Talk Like a Pirate Day edition

  1. Ronald Skip Cole 20/09/2012 at 9:43 am

    Thanks for the booty!
    (BTW, It took my an embarrassingly long time to get the ‘Yar’ cartoon. She was my favorite, but one should know better than to get attached to a Star Trek Security Officer.)

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