Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Validating models of irregular warfare


A forthcoming article in the Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation by Jeffrey Appleget, Curtis Blais, and Michael Jaye offers a useful look at “Best Practices for DoD Model Validation: Lessons Learned from Irregular Warfare Models.”

The US Department of Defense (DoD) requires all models and simulations that it manages, develops, and/or uses to be verified, validated, and accredited. Critical to irregular warfare (IW) modeling are interactions between combatants and the indigenous population. Representation of these interactions (human behavior representation (HBR)) requires expertise from several of the many fields of social science. As such, the verification, validation, and accreditation (VVA) of these representations will require adaptation and, in some cases, enhancement of traditional DoD VVA techniques. This paper suggests validation best practices for the DoD modeling community to address new challenges of modeling IW.

While the title stresses US Department of Defense practices, the article itself also has a great deal to say about the inherent challenges of validating models of complex human behaviour of the sort that are relevant to insurgencies and stabilization operations. Unfortunately, the full piece is behind the SAGE paywall, so you’ll need a subscription to access it.


2 responses to “Validating models of irregular warfare

  1. Ronald Skip Cole 02/04/2013 at 12:23 pm

    You know, if we had a real, verifiable model on how to do IW, it would allow us to do things like make reliable predictions on the probability of success, and on how much things are going to cost. To my knowledge, we can’t do that.
    So given our great ignorance, what does it mean to ‘validate a model?’
    Ptolemy’s model validated. It was also completely wrong. (Useful maybe, but deeply flawed at the core.) But at least he had a model.
    I don’t think that what we know now can even be called a ‘model.’ Is there much more to modern IW theory than: “Kill more bad guys than good guys. Reward the good guys, Repeat.” ? That is not a model. It is a set of useful thumb rules.
    Splitting hairs while we still don’t have the big picture just seems like a waste of effort to me.

  2. brtrain 30/03/2013 at 4:30 pm

    Looks interesting, but I wonder how many new models of IW the DoD will entertain in the future that will need validating….

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