Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

LBS: RCAT does the Falklands War

As part of the ongoing verification and validation process for the Rapid Campaign Analysis Toolset a simulation of the 1982 Falklands War was recently conducted on 13-14 January. RCT is intended “to enable the rapid testing (validation) of all phases of a campaign plan to identify areas of risk at the military strategic level.” It is being developed by Dstl (UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory) and and Cranfield University, in conjunction with a team of top UK wargamers.

According to the LBS blog:

RCAT-OCT-set-up-complete1The aim was ‘to compare an RCAT simulation of the 1982 Falklands War to the historical outcomes and command experience, identify variances and examine the reasons for these in order to improve the validity of the RCAT system.’ The operational commanders present were Gen Julian Thompson and Cdre Michael Clapp, respectively Comd 3 Cdo Bde and Comd Amphibious Task Group during the Falklands War. As such, they had perhaps the most immediate and detailed view of events at the level simulated at the OCT and were ideally placed to validate RCAT in accordance with the aim.

The two days delivered numerous insights and observations.

Phil-Julian-and-Mike1Perhaps the most telling quote was a joint statement from the two commanders: “We liked [the manual simulation] very much and wish we had had such a system in Ascension with Fieldhouse, Moore, Trant, Curtiss, Woodward, Comd 5 Bde and us sitting around the map table thrashing through possible courses of action and, hopefully, agreeing a thoroughly well-considered plan.”

And that, of course, is the point. Wargames, supported by both manual and/or computer simulations, deliver more than merely interesting events. The aim of the current RCAT V&V programme is to develop a system that is fit for the purpose of helping commanders make decisions. These might range from force development to operational situations. If Gen Thompson and Cdre Clapp recognised the utility of such a system in planning the Falklands campaign then I hope we are going in the right direction.

Indeed, Commodore Clapp’s closing comment was: “I feel that I’ve been properly de-briefed for the first time in 33 years.”

You’ll find the full LBS report here.

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