Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 05/06/2013

Simulations miscellany, D-Day edition

Some 69 years ago, Allied paratroopers were were over France jumping into darkness, while British, US, and Canadian forces were approaching the beaches in Normandy. There’s no particular D-Day content to this week’s simulation miscellany, but it does all provide  excuse to post a clip a from The Longest Day.

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At GrogHeads, they have an interview with COL(R) Matt Caffrey of the US Air Force Research Labs wargaming office at at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.  Matt is also the organizer behind the Connections interdisciplinary wargaming conference

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bildeDefense News has an article on the Culture Awareness for Military Operations trainer, developed by Apitima for the US Office of Naval Research:

Aptima’s Culture Awareness for Military Operations trainer, or CAMO, focuses on teaching students how to recognize and assess culture more broadly rather than providing detailed instructions on how to deal with a specific populace.

“If there has been one trend, one push, it’s been towards the development of these general competencies and less on the nuts and bolts of a specific culture,” said Alex Walker, Aptima’s program manager for the project.

Born from a classroom course for Marines and under development for the Office of Naval Research, the computer-based training is interactive, distributable and aims at higher-level thought processes.

The CAMO course addresses five dimensions of culture: environment, economy, social structure, political structure and belief system. In each category, users go through three kinds of instruction aimed at helping Marines understand second- and third-order effects of their actions.

“We need to get them to learn how to think about cultural situations, how to interact with a culture, how to pull out the information they need for their interactions, regardless of the specific context of the situation,” Walker said.

I strongly endorse the approach that this simulation/training software appears to be taking, namely to develop general intercultural competencies and empathies rather than niche single-culture-specific knowledge such as what hand to shake, what fork to use, and what big cultural faux pas to avoid. People will often forgive the visiting foreigner for getting local customs wrong. However, being an insensitive jerk will get you in trouble pretty much everywhere on the planet, especially when you are a foreigner carrying a gun.

Somewhat confusingly, there seems to have been another completely unrelated “Cultural Awareness in Military Operation”s project undertaken by the Norwegians in 2010-2011, based on scenarios using a virtual setting in Second Life. This appears to have gone in the opposite direction from the US version, focusing on very particular Afghanistan scenarios such as how to act towards women and how to observe local customs.

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