The most recent Military Operations Research Society (MORS) Wargame Community of Practice “brown bag” lecture involved a presentation by Kenneth Long of the US Army Command and General Staff College on “Appreciating complexity: The Chief of Staff of the Army game.”
Dr. Long started his talk (slides here) by noting the challenge of teaching Army officers—who might be used to operating in more certain and clearly-defined contexts—about the fuzziness and uncertainty of the world at the strategic level. He argued that lecturing “at” officers was often not a very effective way or promoting critical thinking about such topics.
The game therefore emerged out of using more interactive methods to promote discussion about the role of the Army Chief of Staff and the importance of budget, investment, research, and deployment issues. In it, players make decisions about investing and maintaining various types of force, and potentially forward deploying these to several different strategic theatres. Different forces have different costs, and different capabilities in different environments (major combat, irregular warfare, peacetime operations). There are also costs associated with building and refitting forces, deploying and maintaining these, investing in research & development, and gathering intelligence about the opponent’s interests and assets. A commercial version of the game—Future Force (2011), designed by Jim Lumsford—is available from HPS Simulations.
In addition to the slides linked above, this article from Developments in Business Simulation and Experiential Learning 38 (2011) provides a very good overview:
When Army officers are promoted to the rank of Major, they become field grade officers with the responsibility of planning, organizing and leading large unit formations, working on high level staffs and running the Army day to day. The “Future Force” game is an experiential learning simulation designed to introduce them to the complexity of supporting the current force in its world-wide missions while simultaneously designing and shaping the force for all possible mission profiles for the next 20 years. Played early in their change management curriculum, the game provides a common frame of reference for further detailed technical lessons. This paper describes the game design process from conception to application.
I was particularly impressed by the explicit way in which he addressed curriculum integration and practical constraints such as available time (a point I’ve often made myself).
All-in-all it was an excellent presentation, and it is a shame there was not more time to discuss it.
(UPDATE: Added link to commercial version of the game.)
The University of Minnesota will be holding a three day field/simulation-based course on humanitarian assistance on 9-11 September 2016 in Canon Falls, MN.
You’ll find further information on their website:
The Humanitarian Crisis Simulation, founded in 2011, is a collaborative program led by the University of Minnesota Medical School, the School of Public Health, and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The program trains prospective humanitarian aid workers through an annual 3 day learning experience. The experience is offered to professionals of all backgrounds who are presently engaged in the field of humanitarian aid work, or who are interested in pursuing a career in the field. The experience immerses participants in an environment typical of humanitarian crises, and will equip participants with knowledge, experience and skills that will assist them in working in any humanitarian crisis. The Humanitarian Crisis Simulation may also be taken for credit through an accompanying 1 credit in the School of Public Health or Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
The first portion of the course consists of interactive sessions that provide an overview of the field of humanitarian aid work. Participants are then divided into interdisciplinary teams representing multiple emergency response teams (ERTs). ERT must apply their skills and knowledge to assess a fictional area experiencing a humanitarian crisis. Teams are expected to develop a plan to address the many problems of the region, including malnutrition, poor infrastructure, insecurity and violations of human rights. ERTs will experience living conditions that are common for professionals working in these conditions.
The exercise is developed and administered by professionals with extensive experience in humanitarian crisis management. We draw on content developed by organizations such as the Sphere Project, ALNAP, and the Core Humanitarian Standard as a framework for material covered in the simulation. The Humanitarian Simulation places a special emphasis on managing the medical aspects of humanitarian crises, although the material is relevant for medical and non medical professionals alike.
Who should attend:
- Adult professionals who are engaged in, or considering a career in humanitarianism.
- Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Nurses, Pharmacists and other health care providers who are considering working as humanitarian aid workers
- University of Minnesota graduate and professional students
- Students can earn one credit through the Humphrey School of Public Affairs course PA 5890 – Crisis Simulation, or through the School of Public Health course PubH 6290 – International Humanitarian Crisis Simulation
Participants will gain:
- Knowledge of fundamental principles, minimum standards and best practices in Humanitarian Aid
- Opportunities to apply their professional skills and knowledge in a realistic scenario
- Opportunities to engage with other professionals involved in humanitarian aid.
You’ll also find a StarTribune article on the simulation here.