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Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Category Archives: simulation and gaming publications

RAND: Nuclear weapons and deterring Russian threats to the Baltics

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Last month RAND released a report examining—in part, through wargaming—whether nonstrategic nuclear weapons use might deter a Russian attack against Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The study, Exploring the Role Nuclear Weapons Could Play in Deterring Russian Threats to the Baltic Stateswas prepared by Paul Davis, J. Michael Gilmore, David Frelinger, Edward Geist, Christopher Gilmore, Jenny Oberholtzer, and Danielle Tarraf.

Despite its global advantages, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s current deterrent posture in the Baltic states is militarily weak and generally questionable. A Russian invasion there would almost surely capture some or all of those states’ capital cities within a few days, presenting NATO with a fait accompli. The United States is currently considering tailored deterrence strategies, including options to use nuclear weapons to deter Russian aggression in the Baltic states. This report examines what role nonstrategic nuclear weapons could play in deterring such an invasion. As part of that analysis, the authors review relevant deterrence theory and current NATO and Russian nuclear and conventional force postures in Europe. They draw on wargame exercises and qualitative modeling to characterize the potential outcomes if NATO, Russia, or both employ nonstrategic nuclear weapons during a war in the Baltic states. The authors then discuss implications for using such weapons to deter a Russian invasion. The insights derived from the research highlight the reality that, even if NATO makes significant efforts to modernize its nonstrategic nuclear weapons, it would have much stronger military incentives to end a future war than Russia would. That is, Russia would still enjoy escalation dominance.

Readers might also want to review the 2016 report by David A. Shlapak and Michael Johnson on Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank.


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Recent simulation and gaming publications, October 2019

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PAXsims is pleased to present a selection of recently-published items on simulation and serious gaming. Some of these may not address peacebuilding, conflict, or development issues at all, but have been included because of the broader perspective they offer on games-based education or analysis.

Articles may be gated/paywalled and not accessible without subscription access to the publication in which they appear.


Mislat Safar Almuqati, Nurazmallail Marni,The Role of War Game in Educating and Training the Commanders,Umran: International Journal of Islamic and Civilisational Studies (2019).

The war game is considered to be the most effective means of military training due to the fact that it simulates the reality since it provides a semi-real picture of the weapons and equipment used in the training. Consequently, it provides the trainee with the appropriate environment to freely deal with such weapons as well as military equipment which in turn help the trainee become acquainted with all aspects of use and significantly instill confidence in him when such equipment are actually needed in war.  More importantly, war game provides environment similar to what is going on in the actual battlefields allowing the commanders to exercise the training as if they were in a real war. Based on this perspective, the war game has emerged as an advanced training means which provides an analogy of the battle atmosphere to a great extent and gives commanders the opportunity to make decisions. It also helps in providing the commanders with a future view which enables them to plan their future and to deal with any challenges they might encounter.  In fact, the role of war play is not only limited to training, but also extends to the aspects of military education, preparation, and development. The notion of war game is not only a means for the commander to have knowledge about the war before it occurs so as to be able to realize whether the decisions taken are right or wrong, but also it has become an effective means on which the armies depend when they train and polish the commanders’ capabilities as well as skills. In fact, the concept of war play is not exclusive to the military field but also it is employed by all agencies and departments that require a future vision in training or planning. This paper sheds some light on the notion of war game and its role in training and educating the commanders and staff.


Elizabeth Bartels, “The Science of Wargames: A discussion of philosophies of science for research games,” paper presented at the workshop on War Gaming and Implications for International Relations Research, July 2019.

[No abstract]


Richard Frank and Jessica Genauer, “A Classroom Simulation of the Syrian Conflict,” PS: Political Science & Politics 52, 4 (October 2019).

This article describes a semester-long classroom simulation of the Syrian conflict designed for an introductory international relations (IR) course. The simulation culminates with two weeks of multi-stakeholder negotiations addressing four issues: humanitarian aid, economic sanctions, ceasefire, and political transition. Students randomly play one of 15 roles involving three actor types: states, non-state actors, and international organizations. This article outlines the costs and benefits of simulation design options toward encouraging students’ understanding of IR concepts, and it proposes a course plan for tightly integrating lectures, readings, assessment, and simulation—regardless of class size or length. We highlight this integration through a discussion of two weeks’ worth of material—domestic politics and war, and non-state actors—and the incorporation of bargaining concepts and frameworks into the two weeks of simulated multi-stakeholder negotiations.


Paul Hancock. Jonathan Saunders, Steffi Davey, Tony Day, Babak Akhgar, “ATLAS: Preparing Field Personnel for Crisis Situations,” Serious Games for Enhancing Law Enforcement Agencies (2019).

ATLAS (Advanced Training, Learning and Scenario Simulator) is a serious game that was developed in conjunction with an intergovernmental organisation to deliver bespoke training simulations in virtual reality to assist field personnel in making decisions in difficult situations during field operations. This chapter describes the concept of ATLAS and the developmental process that led to the full-fledged game.


Erin Maudlin and Jeremiah Sanders, “Using Wargames To Teach The Critical Analysis Of Historical Sources,” Critical & Creative Thinking Conference (2019). (Text not available.)

This presentation describes the use of a wargame to actively involve students in the historical method through the creation of “primary sources” they later use to write an analytical paper. This assignment has been used at different universities in history courses to great success. Professional historians must analyze a host of often conflicting sources about their subject written by biased humans. While the reading about the historical process and visiting with archivists are helpful, these are nevertheless passive forms of learning, and their lessons may not adhere. Students often continue to view primary sources as authoritative in their research, and fail to think critically about bias in archival documents. With this assignment, students actively create and participate in an historical event—the wargame—which is essentially capture the flag with water balloons. Then, students create primary sources, such as letters home, “newspaper” reports, etc., and use this “archive” to write a cogent, analytical research paper of the event itself. The wargame makes the historical process transparent for students, as they can see every step along the way of how historians practice their craft: they experience the chaotic event itself; they participate in the creation of the primary sources about the event; and they have to evaluate the often conflicting sources in order to offer their interpretation as to why one team won or lost the battle. In other words, they have to “impose order on the chaos” of evidence about their historical event.


Andrea Redhead, “Gamification and Simulation,” Serious Games for Enhancing Law Enforcement Agencies (2019).

Gamification and simulation methods are two of the most important components of serious games. In order to create an effective training tool, it is imperative to understand these methods and their relationship to each other. If designed correctly, gamification techniques can build upon simulations to provide an effective training medium, which enhances learning, engagement and motivation in users. This chapter discusses their uses, strengths and weaknesses whilst identifying how to most effectively utilise them in developing serious games.


Anastasia Roukouni, Heide Lukosch, Alexander Verbraeck, “Simulation Games to Foster Innovation: Insights from the Transport and Logistics Sector,” Neo-Simulation and Gaming Toward Active Learning (2019).

There is an indisputable gap between the conceptualization and introduction of innovation and the actual and effective implementation of innovations in the complex sociotechnical system of transport and logistics throughout Europe. With our research we investigate the role of simulation games as an instrument to understand the dynamics around innovation processes in this system, by the means of literature review and in-depth interviews with key stakeholders of selected innovation cases within the Port of Rotterdam. The aim of our study is to gather valuable insights into how simulation games can be used to handle the extremely critical issue of effectively implementing innovation in the transport and logistics sector. It is thus expected to stimulate and enhance interaction among actors on policy level, by highlighting the potential advantages of using the approach of simulation games when the implementation of innovation is in discuss.


Robert Rubel, “The Medium in the message: Weaving wargaming more tightly into the fabric of the Navy,” Naval War College Review 72, 4 (Autumn 2019).

By now, the challenge and threat of a rising and contentious China and an increasingly hostile Russia have penetrated the Navy’s corporate consciousness, and current leaders are taking steps to shift the service from a purely power- projection posture to one that focuses again on defending American command of the sea. The Navy is initiating adjustments to fleet design and architecture as well as a rebirth of fleet experimentation. While perhaps late in coming, these responses to the emergent challenges of our time are encouraging.


 

Tristan Saldanha, Quinn Vinlove, and Jens Mache, “MICE: A Holistic Scorekeeping Mechanism for Cybersecurity Wargames,” Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges 35, 1 (October 2019).

Cybersecurity wargames are some of the best tools for teaching se- curity skills to groups of students, but the computational complexity of these games has increased disproportionately with the ability to measure the progress of the game. This paper introduces “Mice”, a new way of assessing security skills such as detecting malware, network intrusion, and network defense, which will allow for complex games to be scored and tracked in a way that traditional score keeping can not. Mice are adaptable to any kind of simulation and are easy to use for students and educators, promising more effective learning from a wide range of security exercises.


Geoffrey Sloan, “The Royal Navy and organizational learning—The Western Approaches Tactical Unit and the Battle of the Atlantic,” Naval War College Review 72, 4 (Autumn 2019).

The Western Approaches Tactical Unit is a unique example of a learning organization. It was created within the bureaucratic constraints of the Admiralty yet was highly effective in changing command culture in the Royal Navy—which proved to be the deciding factor in the early days of World War II, particularly during the Battle of the Atlantic.


Martin Stytz and Sheila Banks, “Future challenges for cyber simulation,” Journal of Defense Modelling and Simulation (online first, 30 September 2019).

[No abstract]


Yusuke Toyoda, Hidehiko Kanegae, “Gaming Simulation as a Tool of Problem-Based Learning for University Disaster Education,” Neo-Simulation and Gaming Toward Active Learning (2019).

This chapter addresses the connection between gaming simulation (GS) and problem-based learning (PBL) in disaster education. First, the chapter explains their relations theoretically and describes the introduction of Evacuation Simulation Training (EST) for earthquake evacuation to university students. EST empowered both Japanese and international students to conduct research, integrate models and practice, and apply their knowledge and skills to develop viable solutions to defined problems. Finally, the chapter demonstrates the utility of GS as a tool of PBL.


Feng Zhu and Kai Chen, “Application of Simulation Technology in Military Theory Teaching,” Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, 352 (2019).

Military theory teaching often involves abstract concepts and principles that are difficult to understand, such as command structure, tactics, equipment system, etc. It’s difficult for students to quickly understand and master in the traditional classroom teaching process. Aiming at this problem, this paper studies the application of simulation technology in military theory teaching. The advantages of the application of simulation technology in military theory teaching are analyzed, and then the application of simulation technology in theory teaching such as equipment system, military command and logistics application is emphatically introduced. With the help of simulation platform, students can be brought into virtual battlefield environment, which is similar to the real situation. It is conducive to enhancing the interest of students in learning and greatly promoting the improvement of learning efficiency.

RAND: Next-Generation Wargaming for the U.S. Marine Corps

RAND_RR2227.jpgRAND has published a new study by Yuna Huh Wong, Sebastian Joon Bae, Elizabeth M. Bartels, and Benjamin Smith on Next-Generation Wargaming for the U.S. Marine Corps: Recommended Courses of Action.

The U.S. Marine Corps has an opportunity not only to adopt wargaming best practices, tools, and approaches from other sources but also to adapt and develop them further to suit its own needs. This report is designed to help the Marine Corps understand the utility of different wargaming tools as the service invests in its wargaming capability and in building its next-generation wargaming concept. The authors have collected information on wargaming processes, facilities, and skill sets through research and interviews at various wargaming centers. They identify tasks by wargaming type in order to provide information on when in the wargaming process certain tools might be useful.

The authors make recommendations for low-, medium-, and high-resourced courses of action (COAs), with the COAs meant to build on each other rather than representing choices between discrete options. The low-resourced COA involves actions that can be implemented with minimal resources and relatively quickly, focusing on improving processes and the wargaming skills of staff already engaged. The medium-resourced COA builds on the previous one, featuring recommendations that require more resources, time, and research and that involve a greater degree of uncertainty, focusing on acquiring additional skill sets, personnel, and equipment. The high-resourced COA builds on the two previous COAs and requires major reorganization or changes in policy or actions of inherent high complexity and financial commitment, focusing on the construction of new and specialized wargaming facilities.

You can read the full report at the link above.

Practical advice on matrix games

PracticalAdviceOnMatrixGamesV11.jpgI have been running Chris Engle matrix games since 1988. With the increase in popularity and use of matrix games, both recreationally and for more serious matters, I felt that I should be prepared to stick my neck out and try to provide some practical advice on how to run the games in order to get the best results.

I have collated my notes into a small booklet, with short comments on the following topics:

  • What are Matrix Games?
  • Academic Underpinning
  • My Version of How to Play a Matrix Game
  • Argument Assessment
  • Diceless Adjudication
  • Notes about arguments
  • Turn Zero
  • Number of Things you can do in an Argument
  • Use of Dice
  • Reasonable Assumptions and Established Facts
  • Turn Length (in game)
  • Game Length
  • End of Turn “Consequence Management”
  • Inter-Turn Negotiations
  • Elections
  • Secret Arguments
  • Measures of Success
  • Killing Arguments
  • Spendable Bonuses and Permanent Bonuses
  • Levels of Protection and Hidden Things
  • Big Projects or Long-Term Plans
  • Number of Actors
  • Writing the Briefs for the Participants
  • Recording the Effects of Arguments
  • The Components (and Characters) Affect the Game
  • Starting Conditions
  • Cue Cards
  • Large-Scale Combat
  • A House Divided
  • Announcements
  • The Order in which Actors make their Arguments
  • Random Events
  • Dealing with Senior Officers, Dominant People and Contentious Arguments
  • Nit-Picking vs Important Clarification
  • Why I like Matrix Games
  • A few Words of Warning

Please bear in mind that this was chiefly written as “notes” to support demonstrations and course I have run using matrix games, rather than as a guide for someone who has never seen or heard of a matrix game.

The advice also does not cover how such games should be analysed in order to draw out any insights or conclusions. This is an important part of any professional game, but as I primarily use matrix games in an educational context, I haven’t had to that. In the times where I have run games for government departments, they have carried out their own analysis of the games (due to the level of classification), so the booklet doesn’t really cover this area.

More recently I have had the good fortune to be able to experiment with a couple of different game set-ups and mechanics, and I have incorporated them into the guide.

The guide is still a “work in progress”, and probably always will be, but I would like to add more to it in the future, if it is helpful. If anyone has an feedback, please get in touch.

You can download the booklet here.

Recent simulation and gaming publications, 1 October 2019

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PAXsims is pleased to present a selection of recently-published items on simulation and serious gaming. Some of these may not address peacebuilding, conflict, or development issues at all, but have been included because of the broader perspective they offer on games-based education or analysis.

Articles may be gated/paywalled and not accessible without subscription access to the publication in which they appear.


Spencer P. Greenhalgh, Matthew J. Koehler, Liz Owens Boltz, “The Fun of Its Parts: Design and Player Reception of Educational Board Games,” Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 19, 3 (2019).

Although board, card, and other analog games can serve as useful educational technologies, little research exists to support teachers’ efforts in finding analog games that are pedagogically appropriate or likely to be well-received by their students. In this study, the authors retrieved data associated with 208 educational games from the crowdsourced website BoardGameGeek. They used this data to summarize players’ description of games into 15 themes, mechanics, and genres that can support teachers’ comparison and evaluation of analog educational games. They then analyzed how these design features influenced player reception of these games—as evidenced by game ratings on BoardGameGeek. To do this, they used two models: a hierarchical regression (features were nested within themes, mechanics, and genres categories) and a flat stepwise regression (features were all at the same level). Both analyses indicated that themes were parsimonious and significant predictors of game ratings, suggesting that the theme of an educational game may be an important consideration for teachers. The findings of this paper present helpful initial guidelines for teachers, teacher educators, and others interested in educational analog games; however, holistic evaluation of analog games and thorough consideration of their pedagogical potential are important.


Donna Krawczyk, “7-Steps to Creating an Effective Simulation Experience for Educators in the Health Professions: an updated practical guide to designing your own successful simulation,” MedEdPublish, 10 September 2019.

Creating a simulation experience for learners can be a daunting task for educators. Through a literature search, this guide outlines a feasible method to effectively execute a successful learning experience for future health professionals through creating your own simulation event from scratch. By organizing this learning strategy into steps, an educator can easily reproduce their very own simulation and offer a highly recommended tool for enhancing health professional education within their in-class or e-learning curriculum. Reaching your students through simulation as a learning strategy does not have to be expensive nor does it have to be a complete re-enactment. To offer a simple but purposeful, clinically relevant simulation is also well remembered for real-life use. Simulation provides a framework for an experience to happen where a student is to engage prior knowledge into practice and the educator takes a facilitative role (Levine et al., 2003). Knowing when and where to use simulation and understanding its effectiveness is key in reaching your learners as well as offering appropriate debriefing. This paper will outline the skills you need and support your choices in which simulation event best suits the required tested outcome.


Matthew Price, “What Impact do VR Controllers Have on the Traditional Strategy Game Genre,” Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield, 2019.

With Virtual Reality (VR) technology becoming more accessible and popular, video games have been taking advantage of its uses. Racing games such as ‘Driveclub VR’, allows the player to have a higher level of interactivity than compared to their regular screen counterparts. This paper will investigate the impact VR technology can have on the Real Time Strategy (RTS) game genre.

This paper will give game developers who wish to develop a strategy game for VR, a list of recommendations that can help guide and influence their design process. The use of these recommendations will give the developer a template on how to create their VR strategy game, that has been guided by focus groups and research and will improve the quality of their control schemes and input mechanisms.

The project found that VR controllers can have an impact on the strategy game genre, but further development of the recommendations would be needed to see if they can be used in a fully developed game. Taking influence from various sources such as non-VR video games, VR Games/ Applications and tabletop games, a control scheme for VR games was created and made into a list of recommendations. The research into this found that participants design decisions were heavily influenced by Google Products such as Google Earth VR and Google Tilt Brush, this can be seen in the recommendations, especially when examining the recommendations for the UI. Other influence can be seen such as traditional strategy game style 3D spaces.


Michal Wolski, “This Game of Mine. Children’s Reaction to War in Video Game This War of Mine,” Filoteknos 9 (2019).

The article aims to analyze video game This War of Mine with The Little Ones DLC from the perspective of children characters. It argues that the game provides a double role reversal, which determines player’s ethical approach. The first reversal is based on the well-described mechanism of procedural rhetorics and consists of assuming the role of a victim of war rather than a warrior or a warmonger. The second reversal is established by forcing player to create an environment in which a child can be safe and play. In doing so, the player has to proactively maintain an illusion of control – the very thing the game itself constantly takes from them, leading to the bitter afterthought that war is most certainly not a game.


Malcolm Woodside, “Gamification is the future of learning,” The Cove, 12 September 2019.

Games have always been a part of learning. In today’s digital world, incorporating games and gamification is essential to contemporary learning. Monash University’s Professor Yeh Ping-Cheng has argued that ‘gamification is a must have teaching tool, because “students have grown up with videos and find it hard to concentrate on anything that isn’t a game”.’ These students, known as Digital Natives, have always lived surrounded by ‘digital’. Thus, to be effective, Army instructors should possess the relevant behaviours, attitudes, skills and knowledge (BASK) to select and implement appropriate gamification across their learning programs.

Army uses an array of games to learn and develop intended BASK. Role-playing games put learners in positions to apply the BASK to achieve required learning outcomes. The rivalry of well-designed team and individual competitions facilitate constructive learning. Deliberate gamification tends to improve engagement, motivation and productivity. It can teach soft skills essential to team work, such as collaboration, problem solving and resilience.

Recent simulation and gaming publications, 21 September 2019

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PAXsims is pleased to present a selection of recently-published items on simulation and serious gaming. Some of these may not address peacebuilding, conflict, or development issues at all, but have been included because of the broader perspective they offer on games-based education or analysis.

Articles may be gated/paywalled and not accessible without institutional access to the publication they appear in.


John Langreck et al, “Modeling and simulation of future capabilities with an automated computer-aided wargame,” Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology (first online 2019).

This article explores the development and application of an automated computer-aided wargame to establish high-level capability requirements and concepts of operations for future Navy unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned underwater vehicles. The Joint Theater Level Simulation-Global Operations serves as the modeling environment, in which a computer-aided exercise models the impact of future intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets. Automating wargame simulations permits the replication of a large-scale exercise without the continued investment of support personnel and operating units. The environment enables experimentation that provides force planners with pertinent metrics to inform decision-making.


Alex Jones, “The conceptual analysis of groups and group dynamics of graduate students using a negotiation role-play simulation,” International Journal of Development Work 9, 8 (2019).

Group dynamic is the center of attention of organizations across the world. Employers nowadays are focusing on creating a collaborative culture among employees. This research brings to the forefront a unique analysis highlighting the important of groups, group dynamics and the main characteristics while conducting a negation role-play simulation. The nature of this study is qualitative conducted on graduate students majoring in business studies at the College of Business Administration at the American University of the Emirates in the United Arab Emirates. The findings have shown that group dynamics is an essential component of educating students majoring in business and that role-play simulation plays a significant part in the development of it.


Kathleen Monahan, “Social Work Student Participation in a Mock Disaster: Brief Notes from the Field,” Best Practices in Mental Health 15, 2 (2019).

With the increase in natural disasters and violent incidents across the United States, it is imperative that social work students are educated in how to respond to survivors, family members, and communities with skill-based trauma-responsive knowledge before they enter the field. Preparedness training for these events in the form of mock disasters ensures that institutions and communities are ready for traumatic events that threaten life. Including social work graduate students in mock disasters provides an opportunity for these students to develop skills, competency, and confidence to respond to disasters, as well as to participate in interprofessional collaboration. This article will present the experiences of second year social work graduate students who participated in a mock disaster in a regional hospital/university setting.


Jonas Hermelin et al, “Operationalising resilience for disaster medicine practitioners: capability development through training, simulation and reflection,” Cognition, Technology & Work (2019).

Resilience has in recent decades been introduced as a term describing a new perspective within the domains of disaster management and safety management. Several theoretical interpretations and definitions of the essence of resilience have been proposed, but less work has described how to operationalise resilience and implement the concept within organisations. This case study describes the implementation of a set of general resilience management guidelines for critical infrastructure within a Swedish Regional Medical Command and Control Team. The case study demonstrates how domain-independent guidelines can be contextualised and introduced at an operational level, through a comprehensive capability development programme. It also demonstrates how a set of conceptual and reflective tools consisting of educational, training and exercise sessions of increasing complexity and realism can be used to move from high-level guidelines to practice. The experience from the case study demonstrates the value of combining (1) developmental learning of practitioners’ cognitive skills through resilience-oriented reflection and interaction with dynamic complex open-ended problems; (2) contextualisation of generic guidelines as a basis for operational methodological support in the operational environment; and (3) the use of simulation-based training as part of a capability development programme with increasing complexity and realism across mixed educational, training and exercise sessions. As an actual example of a resilience implementation effort in a disaster medicine management organisation, the study contributes to the body of knowledge regarding how to implement the concept of resilience in operational practice.


From the US Patent Office comes this application from the US Navy (and inventors Jeremy Arias and Chad Klay) for an abstract, hex-based unconventional warfare game.

A board game for simulating unconventional warfare. The board game of the present invention includes hexagonal teritory board pieces, resource production unit markers, and infrastructure markers for representing teritory, resource production units, and infrastructure in an unconventional warfare scenario. The infrastructure markers include (1) base markers that can be placed at intersections of the hexagonal pieces, where each base marker allows a player to collect double resources and build military units; (2)population influence markers that can be placed at the intersections, where each population marker allows the player to collect resources and conduct influence attacks on neighboring infrastructure; and (3)military unit markers that can be placed at the intersections, where each military unit marker allows the player to conduct military attacks on the neighboring infrastructure.

What’s especially unconventional here is applying for a patent—it was my understanding that, generally, you can’t patent game systems.

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Recent simulation and gaming publications, 8 September 2019

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PAXsims is pleased to present a selection of recently-published items on simulation and serious gaming. Some of these may not address peacebuilding, conflict, or development issues at all, but have been included because of the broader perspective they offer on games-based education or analysis.

Articles may be gated/paywalled and not accessible without institutional access to the publication in which they appear.


John Langreck et al, “Modeling and simulation of future capabilities with an automated computer-aided wargame,” Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology, online first 3 September 2019.

This article explores the development and application of an automated computer-aided wargame to establish high-level capability requirements and concepts of operations for future Navy unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned underwater vehicles. The Joint Theater Level Simulation-Global Operations serves as the modeling environment, in which a computer-aided exercise models the impact of future intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets. Automating wargame simulations permits the replication of a large-scale exercise without the continued investment of support personnel and operating units. The environment enables experimentation that provides force planners with pertinent metrics to inform decision-making.


K. Scott et al, “The Persuasion Game: Serious Gaming Information Warfare and Influence,” Journal of Information Warfare, forthcoming 2019.

In an age of hybrid, asymmetric, and non-linear conflict, the role of Information Operations has become ever more important. This paper presents a research project examining ways of better enabling stakeholders to respond to the increasing use of influence in warfare, hybrid conflict, competition, and the realms of hard and soft politics. The project consisted of an international cross-sector research group drawing on military, government, academic, and industry expertise to understand the best way to wargame influence. The use of wargaming as a training/research tool is familiar in military and civil contexts; the project discussed presents a truly innovative approach to influence studies, and shows the benefits of an interdisciplinary, cross-domain research team.


Tongfei Shang,Tianqi Wang, and Jianfeng Ma, “Firepower Distribution Method in Wargame System Based on Machine Learning and Wavelet Analysis,” Journal of Physics: Conference Series (2019).

It is the key to the success or failure of military operations to formulate practical and feasible operational plans quickly and in a timely manner. Aiming at the development and analysis of the auxiliary action plan of the computer chess system, the machine learning and wavelet analysis are used to analyze the research of the wargsme system from the planning and drafting process, which provides a reference for the fire distribution of the wargame system.


 

Tongfei Shang,Tianqi Wang, and Jianfeng Ma, “Research on Performance Evaluation of Wargame System Based on Deep Reinforcement Learning,” Journal of Physics: Conference Series (2019).

Deep reinforcement learning combines the advantages of deep learning and reinforcement learning to make end-to-end perception decisions in complex high-dimensional state action spaces. The paper proposes a deep reinforcement learning method for the deduction of the wargame system, which can better assist the combat commander in wartime decision- making. The simulation proves the effectiveness of the method.


 

Monika Magnusson, Geir Ove Venemyr, Peter Bellström, Bjørn Tallak Bakken, “Digitalizing Crisis Management Training,” ePart 2019 International Conference on Electronic Participation, online July 2019.

The ongoing digital transformation in government has enabled innovative changes in operational processes and service. However, while e-services and social media are widely adopted, earlier studies indicate that this transformation is still being awaited in other areas, such as crisis or disaster preparedness. Recent events such as the 2018 wildfires in several parts of Europe, as well as empirical research, highlight the need for more (systematic) training of local governments’ crisis management teams. Conventional training methods are time- and space-dependent and require long-term planning, making it complicated to increase the extent of training. In this interdisciplinary study, we report on the results from the Swedish-Norwegian CriseIT project that aimed to develop information systems (IS) for crisis management training. The purpose of the article is to describe information systems designed to support local governments’ crisis management training and to discuss how these artefacts could improve crisis management training practices.


Karen Louise Blackmore, Evan William Henry Allitt, “Building and sustaining the defense simulation training workforce,” Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology (online first, 19 August 2019).

The delivery of simulation training capability across the Australian Defence Force (ADF) requires a highly skilled workforce. Evolving training requirements, enabled by advances in computing power, network systems, display and peripheral technologies, and software environments, place increasing demands on the size of the workforce and the technical skills they are required to possess. In this research, we analyze existing simulation role frameworks and the various position descriptions and qualification requirements associated with these roles. To further explore the unique skillsets that translate to success in simulation roles, we also conduct a case study of a large external contract simulation workforce supplier, Cubic Defence Australia. Our findings highlight the complexity of the defense simulation workforce, including the lack of standardized position descriptions, competency frameworks, education and training pathways, and career progression options. Further complicating this is the importance of prior ADF service experience to the delivery of simulation systems that meet active training requirements, and the relationship between this service experience and career progression. From this analysis, recommendations for addressing the issues are made, including a call for a targeted and deliberate, multi-industry federal response to broaden the pool of candidates looking for careers in simulation.


Dan Wang, Shi Cao, Xingguo Liu, Tang Tang, Haixiao Liu, Linghua Ran, Xiai Wang, Jianwei Niu, “The virtual infantry soldier: integrating physical and cognitive digital human simulation in a street battle scenario,” Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology (online first, 21 August 2019).

Simulation has become a powerful method for military research and combat training due to its intuitive visualization, repeatability, and security in contrast to real-world training. Previous studies often divided cognitive and physical factors into isolated models using separated platforms. Ideally, both cognitive and physical aspects of a virtual soldier should be modeled on the same platform. We demonstrated an integrated modeling that combines cognitive models with physical human models. A simple task was used, requiring the virtual soldier to navigate in a virtual city, avoid enemies, and reach the destination asap. The Queueing Network-Adaptive Control of Thought Rational cognitive model helps the virtual soldier make choices after encountering enemies. Based on the information collected, the soldier will choose different strategies. Two general-purpose methods from the cognitive modeling and digital human modeling were combined. The results were able to capture the behavioral states as planned and visualize the movement of the virtual soldier, who was able to complete the task as expected. The results demonstrated the feasibility of integrated models combining cognitive and physical aspects of human performance in the application of virtual soldiers. Future studies could further compare the results of model output with human empirical data to validate the modeling capabilities.


Clément Judek, Frédéric Verhaegen, Abla-Mimi Edjossan-Sossou, Thierry Verdel, Simulation-based training for improving managers’ awareness to a crisis: An empirical study to attest the capability of the iCrisis simulation approach to generate accurate crisis situations,” IDRiM Journal, 9, 1 (2019).

Crisis management concerns have increased in recent years, but it is difficult to gain experience with it except by directly experiencing a crisis situation. Crisis simulations aim to offer this experience. iCrisis is a crisis situation simulation approach that operates on the assumption that it accurately simulates crises. However, no methodology exists that can validate this assumption. The aim of this paper is to determine whether iCrisis simulations can recreate crisis characteristics. We first make a literature review to define the concept of crisis; we propose a list of characteristics separated into two categories: the characteristics of a crisis situation and those of the reaction that it raises among the managers coping with it. Second, we present the iCrisis approach, its consideration of the crisis characteristics and how to control their generation during the simulation. Although the assessment of crisis charac-teristics is subjective, it is nevertheless relevant to use participants’ feelings at the end of a simulation to study these characteristics. Eventually, our observations highlight that the crisis situation characteristics can be observed and perceived by the participants during the simulation.


Sarah HarmonRemington MaxwellArnav Jhala, “Operationalizing conflict strategies in a board game,” Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (2019).

The aim of conflict resolution education is to impart essential strategies and skills for resolving conflicts effectively. While these are important life skills, conflict resolution can be difficult to teach because it requires individuals to interact with others, explore new strategies, and receive feedback within a natural social context in order for strong connections to be made. As board games often involve co-located multiplayer interaction and can be effective tools for young learners, we explore the possibility of incorporating learning about conflict resolution into a tabletop game. We describe the process of designing an educational board game – StarStruck – that fosters discussions about conflict management via operationalization of conflict strategies drawn from an instrument founded in social psychology theory. Through in- and out-of-board interactions, StarStruck is designed to provide players with affordances to explore different resolution strategies within their natural social environment. We present examples from initial playtesting sessions to consider the expressive range of conflict scenarios generated by playing the game. This work serves as a preliminary illustration of how to map the vocabulary of conflict resolution to game mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics so that players can naturally engage with and discuss conflict interactions.


 

Bruce Edmonds, “Some Philosophical Viewpoints on Social Simulation,” Review of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, July 2019.

How one thinks about knowledge can have a significant impact on how one develops models as well as how one might judge a good model.

Recent simulation and gaming publications, 22 August 2019

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PAXsims is pleased to present a selection of recently-published items on simulation and serious gaming. Some of these may not address peacebuilding, conflict, or development issues at all, but have been included because of the broader perspective they offer on games-based education or analysis.

Articles may be gated/paywalled and not accessible without institutional access to the publication they appear in.


Victor Asal, Justin Conrad, and Steve Sin, “Back to the future: teaching about the end of the world,” European Political Science (online first, 2019).

The paper examines the challenges of teaching about the impact of nuclear weapons on international relations to students who were born after the Cold War and suggests a variety of pedagogical approaches for helping them understand this impact including readings, media, and simulations. We first discuss the value of a multi-methods approach to teaching about nuclear weapons and then discuss resources for these different approaches. For readings, we identify key writing framed as debates that have worked with undergraduates like Waltz and Sagan as well as key articles and literature reviews and historical literature about the actual use of nuclear weapons during World War II. We then discuss different multimedia such as movies and music. Finally, we discuss in class simulations with a focus on Nuclear Diplomacy, providing some examples of student reaction to playing these simulations.


 

Mauricio Meschoulam, Andrea Muhech, Tania Naanous, Sofía Quintanilla, Renata Aguilar, Jorge Ochoa, Cristobal Rodas, “The Complexity of Multilateral Negotiations: Problem or Opportunity? A Qualitative Study of Five Simulations with Mexican Students,” International Studies Perspectives, Volume 20, Issue 3, August 2019.

Education in International Relations requires continual evolution. One approach is the use of negotiation simulations for complex issues. Despite the extensive literature on the subject, there is a lack of qualitative research on this approach, particularly in Latin America and Mexico. This paper presents the findings of a qualitative research on five simulations with Mexican students. The five exercises were characterized by the application of elements that are not usually included in traditional simulations, such as a multiweek phase of prior negotiations, the use of Twitter, the introduction of nonstate actors, a gala dinner, and a continuous feed of real world news. We investigated 118 participants through 30 in depth interviews analyzed with NVivo, a systematized analysis of 118 reports, documents and tweets, and a pre-post questionnaire applied to the fifth group. The results in the five simulations were highly positive. The students reported a greater awareness of the complexity of international negotiations. Such awareness can present both a risk and an opportunity: a risk because those circumstances caused discouragement and frustration in many participants, and an opportunity because those same circumstances, properly channeled, triggered parallel skills, and creative thinking. Therefore, the role of the facilitation team was fundamental.


 

LtCol Jim Sinclair, “The Evolution of Australian Army Training Adversaries, 1948-2018),” Australian Army Journal 15, 1 (Autumn 2019). (pdf)

One of the essential requirements for Army training is the creation of
a contemporary and relevant training adversary which allows tactics, techniques and procedures to be tested and weapons and equipment
to be evaluated. This is an important part of Army’s value proposition to government that it can provide directed capability. In most cases, the training adversaries developed by the Australian Army in the past have represented opponents the Army was actually fighting or generic opponents it was unlikely to fight. This led the Australian Army to train for operations against an adversary it was unlikely to fight rather than preparing for probable future conflict.

In 2015, Army adopted the United States (US) Army Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE). DATE provides a sophisticated operating environment and adversary construct which is constantly updated to reflect current real-world operations. The adoption of DATE will transform Australian Army training by providing a contemporary, reality-based training adversary, allowing Army to train for contemporary operations and conduct mission rehearsal exercises against a contemporary adversary for the first time.


 

Walter W. Kulzy III, “(Design) Thinking Through Strategic-Level Wargames for Innovative Solutions,” Phalanx, 52, 2 (June 2019).

…Using design thinking as a process to create prototype environments within a wargame is an effective approach. Decision makers are exposed to these prototypes and challenges to comprehend systematic relationships of actors and the secondary and tertiary effects of their decisions. By iterating through this environment, deeper understandings lead to new and useful strategies.


Edward Castronova, “American Abyss: Simulating a Modern American Civil War,” Journal of Games, Self, & Society 1 (2019).

In recent years, speculation has arisen in the United States about the possibility of a civil war. Here I introduce a paper simulation of such a war using state-of-the-art lessons about modern civil war that have been developed within the diplomatic/military/intelligence conflict simulation community. According to those lessons, counter-insurgency (COIN) operations are a beastly mess for everyone involved. The simulation allows players to see why: In a modern intra-state conflict, there are many actors at play, each with their own access to the critical resources of media, money, and arms. These actors all have asymmetric aims, which lead to constantly shifting loyalties. The result is a conflict that is unlikely to end until all of the players are completely exhausted. I developed the simulation described in this paper as a warning to those who want to take up arms: Do not.

 


9789463728010_prom.jpgHolly Faith Nelson and James William Daems (eds), Games and War in Early Modern English Literature: From Shakespeare to Swift  (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2019).

This pioneering collection of nine original essays carves out a new conceptual path in the field by theorizing the ways in which the language of games and warfare inform and illuminate each other in the early modern cultural imagination. They consider how warfare and games are mapped onto each other in aesthetically and ideologically significant ways in the early modern plays, poetry or prose of William Shakespeare, Thomas Morton, John Milton, Margaret Cavendish, Aphra Behn, and Jonathan Swift, among others. Contributors interpret the terms ‘war games’ or ‘games of war’ broadly, freeing them to uncover the more complex and abstract interplay of war and games in the early modern mind, taking readers from the cockpits and clowns of Shakespearean drama, through the intriguing manuals of cryptographers and the ingenious literary wargames of Restoration women authors, to the witty but rancorous paper wars of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.


Amanda Jaber, “Evaluating the Team Resilience Assessment Method for Simulation (TRAMS),” MSc thesis, Department of Computer Science, Linköping university, Spring 2019.

The Team Resilience Assessment Method for Simulation (TRAMS) is an instrument that consist of several measurements, such as team-member exchange, workload, the TRAMS observation protocol etc. This thesis researches the observation protocol. The TRAMS protocol is an assessment method for resilience in simulation games. The aim of this protocol is to support the identification of resilience strategies used and developed by the participants in a simulation game. It is a challenge to assess resilience in teams and that is why the TRAMS protocol has been developed. The scenario of the simulation games is a disruption for 10 days in the card payment system. During the simulation games, the participants work in teams and have to try to cope with the disruption in the card payment system. During the course of this study, 14 simulation games have been conducted with seven different teams. Each of the simulation games has been executed during one whole day, and the participating teams have in total played two games each. During every simulation game there were three observers equipped with the TRAMS protocol. To interpret the data collected with the TRAMS protocol, two methods have been used: transcription and thematic analysis. As a result, guidelines and design changes was formed. In addition, results showed that the distribution and frequency of observations of resilience strategies made were similar, that the observations noted by the observers were similar, and lastly eight themes from the data collection could be extracted:Coordinate and collaborate, Payment options, Cash circulation, Safety, Fuel and transportation, Inform, communicate and the media, Hoarding and rationing, Vulnerable groups. In conclusion, the TRAMS protocol is still under development and 15 more simulation games are planned to be conducted within the ongoing CCRAAAFFTING project. However, the protocol has been applied in this study ́s 14 simulation games so far, and the similarities in how the observers filled in the protocol and how similar the observations were, indicate that it hopefully can develop into a recognized research tool in the future.


 

Recent simulation and gaming articles, 15 August 2019

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PAXsims is pleased to present a selection of recently-published articles on simulation and serious gaming. We will start doing this regularly, in addition to our periodic “simulation and gaming miscellany” updates. Some of these may not address peacebuilding, conflict, or development issues at all, but have been included because of the broader perspective they offer on games-based education or analysis.

Articles may be gated/paywalled and not accessible without institutional access to the publication.


McDarby G, Reynolds L, Zibwowa Z, et al, “The global pool of simulation exercise materials in health emergency preparedness and response: a scoping review with a health system perspective.” 

Simulation Exercises (SimEx) are an established tool in defence and allied security sectors, applied extensively in health security initiatives under national or international legislative requirements, particularly the International Health Regulations (2005). There is, however, a paucity of information on SimEx application to test the functionality of health systems alongside emergency preparedness, response and recovery. Given the important implications health services resilience has for the protection and improvement of human life, this scoping review was undertaken to determine how the publicly available body of existing global SimEx materials considers health systems, together with health security functions in the event of disruptive emergencies.

The global review identified 668 articles from literature and 73 products from institutional sources. Relevant screening identified 51 materials suitable to examine from a health system lens using the six health system building blocks as per the WHO Health System Framework. Eight materials were identified for further examination of their ability to test health system functionality from a resilience perspective.

SimEx are an effective approach used extensively within health security and emergency response sectors but is not yet adequately used to test health system resilience. Currently available SimEx materials lack an integrated health system perspective and have a limited focus on the quality of services delivered within the context of response to a public health emergency. The materials do not focus on the ability of systems to effectively maintain core services during response.

Without adjustment of the scope and focus, currently available SimEx materials do not have the capacity to test health systems to support the development of resilient health systems. Dedicated SimEx materials are urgently needed to fill this gap and harness their potential as an operational tool to contribute to improvements in health systems. They can act as effective global goods to allow testing of different functional aspects of health systems and service delivery alongside emergency preparedness and response.

The work was conducted within the scope of the Tackling Deadly Diseases in Africa Programme, funded by the UK Department for International Development, which seeks to strengthen collaboration between the health system and health security clusters to promote health security and build resilient health systems.


 

Virginia C. Muckler, Christine Thomas, “Exploring Suspension of Disbelief Among Graduate and Undergraduate Nursing Students,” Clinical Simulation in Nursing 35 (2019).

Background

The nature and process of suspending disbelief is complex, subjective, and has not been well researched in clinical simulation.

Methods

A descriptive phenomenological approach with semistructured interviews explored student experiences of suspending disbelief during simulation-based learning.

Results

Among the 18 (69%) graduate students and 8 (31%) undergraduate students, three themes emerged from participant narratives including (1) frame of mind, (2) environment, and (3) tempo. Subthemes of frame of mind included cognitive focus, apprehension, and confidence.

Conclusion

Understanding nursing students’ lived experiences of suspending disbelief can enhance the educator’s ability to design and facilitate effective simulation, student development, and suspension of disbelief.

Highlights

  • Suspension of disbelief is complex, subjective, and underresearched.
  • Frame of mind or mindset influences suspension of disbelief.
  • Cognitive focus, apprehension, and confidence affect suspension of disbelief.
  • Functional equipment enhances the environment and suspension of disbelief.
  • Scenario progression without interruption promotes suspension of disbelief.

 

Louis P. Halamek, Robert Cady, and Michael Sterling, “Using briefing, simulation and debriefing to improve human and system performance,” Seminars in Perinatology (prepublication 2019).

Safety, effectiveness and efficiency are keys to performance in all high-risk industries; healthcare is no exception, and neonatal-perinatal medicine is one of the highest risk subspecialties within healthcare. Briefing, simulation and debriefing are methods used by professionals in high-risk industries to reduce the overall risk to life and enhance the safety of the human beings involved in receiving and delivering the services provided by those industries. Although relatively new to neonatal-perinatal medicine, briefing, simulation and debriefing are being practiced with increasing frequency and have become embedded in training exercises such as the Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). This chapter will define these terms and offer examples as to how they are used in high-risk activities including neonatal-perinatal medicine.


 

Sundeep Kaur Varaich, “Effectiveness of Simulation in Addressing Stigma,” PhD dissrtation, University of Northern Colorado, May 2019.

Mental health stigma hinders quality nursing care. The aim of this quasi- experimental study was to test if simulation was effective for addressing stigma in nursing education and evaluating student attitudes towards psychiatric conditions. A sample of eight-nine undergraduate nursing students were assigned to a control or treatment group and participated in either a chronic health challenge scenario or a mental health scenario to test the effectiveness of using a mental health simulation to address stigmatizing attitudes. Day’s Mental Illness Stigma Scale was used as the data collection tool for the post-test to measure students’ stigmatizing perceptions in relation to their assigned scenario. This scale was completed by the students immediately after the simulation and approximately three months after participating in the simulation scenario to evaluate change in perceptions. Analysis of mean scores revealed that students participating in the mental health scenario demonstrated more stigmatizing attitudes overall except related to the subscale for anxiety toward mental illness, for which the control group showed more stigmatizing attitudes. These findings indicate a need for further research into the use of simulation as an educational approach and the possibility of modifying this approach for effectively addressing mental health stigma.

(Emphasis added–this research shows a simulation experience potentially causing undesirable learning outcomes.)

Review: Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design

BBTGDcover.jpgGeoffrey Engelstein and Isaac Shalev, Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design (Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2020). 491pp. USD$63.96 paperback.

 

Engelstein and Isaac Shalev have put together what is, in essence, a very useful encyclopedia of the main mechanisms in tabletop game design. The volume outlines no fewer than 194 different approaches, broken down into thirteen different categories:

  1. Game structures
  2. Turn order and structure terminology
  3. Actions
  4. Resolution
  5. Game end and victory
  6. Uncertainty
  7. Economics
  8. Auctions
  9. Worker Placement
  10. Movement
  11. Area Control
  12. Set collection
  13. Card mechanisms

For each they provide a description and graphic representation of the mechanism and a summary of its strengths, weakness, and game consequences. They also discuss  some representative games in which the mechanism is used. Entries are typically 2-3 pages long each, as shown below.

The descriptions are clear and readily comprehensible, even for gaming neophytes, while the discussions offer insight that more experienced game designers will also find useful.

Were this excellent volume a little cheaper I would certainly use it as a supplementary text for my conflict simulation design course at McGill University. I will, however, certainly be using it as a course resource. It is also available as a much cheaper e-book rental format.

European Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security: wargaming papers

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The latest edition of the European Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security (July 2019) contains several papers that address aspects of wargaming. Here is just a sample. It’s all gated, so you’ll need institutional access to ProQuest or EBSCO to read it.


 

Ormrod, David; Scott, Keith; Scheinman, Lynn; Kodalle, Thorsten; Sample, Char; et al., “The Persuasion Game: Developing a Serious Game Based Model for Information Warfare and Influence Studies.”

In an age of hybrid, asymmetric, and non-linear conflict, the role of Information Operations has become ever more important; this paper presents a study of a recent research project. The project examined ways of better enabling stakeholders to respond to the increasing use of influence in warfare, hybrid conflict, competition, and the realms of hard and soft politics. An international and cross-sector research group drawing on military, government, and academic expertise from seven different countries met in October 2018 to understand the best way to wargame influence. In the space of four weeks, the group worked towards the successful achievement of their initial goal; the creation of an influence wargaming community supported by a modular wargaming package and development roadmap. This paper introduces the context which has led to the establishment of the multi-national, multi-disciplinary team; discusses the reasons for employing serious gaming as a research tool for studying influence; outlines the development of the project of its initial four-week span; and summarises the initial key findings and directions for further research. The use of wargaming as a training and research tool is familiar in both the military and civil contexts; the project discussed here presents a truly innovative approach to influence studies, and shows the benefits of an interdisciplinary, cross-domain research team. The final section introduces a new influence wargaming framework that has emerged from the study.

Ormrod, David; and Scott, Keith, “Strategic Foresight and Resilience Through Cyber-Wargaming.”

Cyber-capabilities provide nation and non-nation state actors, including criminal organisations and individuals, with the ability to project power and influence across borders and into critical infrastructure, corporate networks and military systems with relative anonymity and impunity. Employed on their own or as part of a broader influence activity, cyberattacks can use vulnerabilities within networked and digitally-enabled systems to create opportunities to undertake a variety of malicious actions, including the theft of intellectual property or financial data, engage in aspects of hybrid warfare or undertake the destruction and/or disabling of physical property that is network connected. Traditionally, strategic and military planners have undertaken wargaming as a means of anticipating potential outcomes relating to system vulnerabilities and failures, as a means of optimizing a system of systems and increasing resilience. However, cyberwargaming as a strategic planning activity has suffered conceptual and practical problems due to the disconnect between technological design and the conceptual models used for physical systems and critical infrastructure. Traditional concepts such as time, which have generally been easily represented within wargames, are much more difficult to represent in the cyber domain. The lack of suitable models has led to two different approaches; a focus on the operational and technical through red teaming and cyber exercises, or a focus on the strategic through executive table-top activities and matrix wargames. Cyber-wargaming is an iterative approach to optimizing the information security posture of an organisation, whilst simultaneously increasing the knowledge of the participants about their environment. Cyber-wargaming ensures the organisation evolves as a collective and has an opportunity to engage in a safe way with potential risks and threats. This paper proposes a unique cyber-wargaming model which seeks to achieve strategic foresight and increase the resilience of the system of systems. The model provides organisations and individuals with a way of understanding vulnerabilities across the systems of systems within cyber-space, in a way that facilitates understanding of the fundamental risks to an organisation. The cyber-wargaming model proposed by this paper will allow participants to reduce risk, enhance understanding and increase collaboration to address the fundamental socio-technical issues they must address to succeed. This unique approach extends on existing assurance programs and governance frameworks, by recognizing the role of the malicious actor, incorporating a view of the cyber-ecosystem and aligning strategic organizational imperatives with information and communication technology security programs.

Thorsten Kodalle; Char Sample; David Ormrod; and Keith Scott, “Thoughts About a General Theory of Influence in a DIME/PMESII/ASCOP/IRC2 Model.”

The leading question of this paper is: “How would influence warfare (“iWar”) work and how can we simulate it?” The paper discusses foundational aspects of atheory and model of influence warfare by discussing a framework built along the DIME/PMESII/ASCOP dimension forming a prism with three axes. The DIME concept groups the many instruments of power a nation state can muster into four categories: Diplomacy, Information, Military and Economy. PMESII describes the operational environment in six domains: Political, Military, Economic, Social, Information and Infrastructure. ASCOPE is used in counter insurgency (COIN) environments to analyze the cultural and human environment (aka the “human terrain”) and encompasses Areas, Structures, Capabilities, Organization, People and Events. In addition, the model reflects about aspects of information collection requirements (ICR) and information capabilities requirements (ICR) – hence DIME/PMESII/ASCOP/ICR2. This model was developed from an influence wargame that was conducted in October 2018. This paper introduces basic methodical questions around model building in general and puts a special focus on building a framework for the problem space ofinfluence/information/hybrid warfare takes its shape in. The article tries to describe mechanisms and principles in the information/influence space using cross discipline terminology (e.g. physics, chemistry and literature). On a more advanced level this article contributes to the Human, Social, Culture, Behavior (HSCB) models and community. One goal is to establish an academic, multinational and whole of government influence wargamer community. This paper introduces the idea of the perception field understood as a molecule of a story or narrative that influences an observer. This molecule can be drawn as aselection of vectors that can be built inside the DIME/PMESII/ASCOP prism. Each vector can be influenced by a shielding or shaping action. These ideas were explored in this influence wargame.

Hjalmarsson, Sara, “Live-Action Role-Play as a Scenario-Based Training Tool for Security and Emergency Services.”

Appropriate training and knowledge development is highly relevant to leaders and security professionals in the fields of information warfare and counter-terrorism. Scenario-based training methodology has a long history among military, law enforcement, emergency services and the private sector. It is recognised as an effective method for preparing leaders to make critical decisions under pressure. Over time, several models have been developed to illustrate its components and characteristics. Live-Action Role-Play (LARP) has been defined as a unique art form that, like scenario-based training, can only be experienced as it is being created. It is an international phenomenon with a diverse range of styles and characteristics. The current leading-edge developments occur in the Nordic countries (Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway). Although LARP is primarily used for entertaining games, the art form bears significant resemblance to scenario-based training and could be adapted for authentic tasking exercises. LARP contrasts with scenario-based training in its use of persona within a variable narrative engine and a context that includes many layers of complexity. Educational Live-Action Role-Play, known as Edu-LARP, has been integrated into the Danish school system via Østerskov Efterskole, a boarding school for students aged 14-17 that follows the Danish national curriculum. LARP participants are already being used in training exercises for emergency services due to their dynamic improvisation skills and cost-effectiveness. Experienced organisers and participants could contribute their ability to generate scenarios, work with uncertainty and “think like the enemy, without becoming the enemy.” to the design and execution of training exercises. Additionally, they could contribute to scenario generation for scenarios involving a high level of uncertainty, such as terrorist attacks and critical infrastructure incidents. LARP events themselves could also be adapted to the training needs and attributes of the audience, creating training that fully engages the trainee and results in improved learning outcomes. As in the case of scenario-based training, the use of LARP, LARP participants and LARP organisers must be implemented appropriately for them to be effective. This implies, for example, that participants and organisers must be experienced. It also implies that LARP used for training purposes would demand an appropriate narrative engine, educational framework and level of complexity suitable to the audience. Although this paper identifies that there is significant potential in the LARP art form, it also recommends that further research be conducted to explore the relevance of different styles, aspects relating to effective implementation and possible other uses of the art form.

Rege, Aunshul; Adams, Joe. “The Need for More Sophisticated Cyber-Physical Systems War Gaming Exercises.”

Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are highly integrated into critical infrastructures. These systems execute automated control of physical equipment in transportation networks, nuclear plants, water and gas distribution networks, and power plants. CPSs offer a unique cybersecurity challenge as cyberattacks against CPSs adversely affect public services (e.g., WannaCry attacks in Europe), research facilities (e.g., STUXNET), or transportation services (e.g., OnionDog’s attack on South Korea). It is critical to train and educate operators, owners, and users of CPSs on how these systems are subjected to cyberattacks; how to defend CPSs in real time; how to manage limited employee and monetary resources during and after cyberattacks; and how to better manage system confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Real-time CPS cybersecurity exercises serve as ideal training platforms. This paper reviews existing CPS cybersecurity red team-blue-team exercises (RTBTEs) conducted in USA. This paper highlights the many benefits of these exercises, such as understanding real-time attacks and defense, testing and validating security models, and also understanding human behavior of both attackers and defenders. While these are important contributions, they focus on a small subset of CPSs inside particular infrastructures within condensed temporal frameworks. Collectively, these factors approximate the reality of CPS cyberattacks, which take longer, are more sophisticated, and target multiple, connected infrastructures. This paper thus argues for a more sophisticated CPS wargame hosted in an environment more representative of reality. An advanced training environment is being constructed at Camp Grayling Michigan in collaboration with public industry and government agencies.

Labuschagne, William Aubrey; Eloff, Mariki, “The Effectiveness of Online Gaming as Part of a Security Awareness Program.”

Using cyberspace to conduct business and personal duties has become ubiquitous to an interconnected society. The use of information technology has provided humanity with a platform to evolve and contribute to the advancement of society. However duality also exists within the realm of cyberspace as shown by the expanding threats originating from cyber criminals who uses the information superhighway for nefarious purposes. Companies usually invest large amounts of money in the implementation of hardware and software controls to deter and prevent attacks on assets within these establishments. For example firewalls and anti-virus software are updated as threats evolve. In spite of these controls the weakest link in this security chain is still the human element whose actions can be considered as erratic and unpredictable thus posing a threat to the security of the organization. Security awareness programs aim to equip users of cyberspace with the necessary knowledge to identify and mitigate threats emanating from these platforms, including the Internet. Numerous security awareness frameworks exist which prescribes the required steps to design and implement an efficient and effective security awareness program. An understanding of the different steps is required to develop and customize such a program for a specific environment. Furthermore different methods which include training, newsletters and websites are used to deliver the security awareness content to the participants. The nature of these methods could be ineffective and be considered mundane and strenuous to the participants who do not always have the technical background in information technology, which, in turn could threaten the success of the implemented program. Therefore a proficient solution should be considered to attract and captivate a diverse group of employees when doing security awareness training. Moreover the effectiveness of these programs should be measured with the application of metrics defined within security awareness programs. This paper discusses the implementation and findings of a security awareness program. The aim of the security awareness program was to determine the effectiveness of using online gaming as an information security knowledge delivery method to enhance the efficacy of the participant’s awareness to identify and mitigate threats encountered within cyberspace. Subsequently the paper proposes improvements to the design of the security awareness program used during the study.

Blumbergs, Bernhards; Ottis, Rain; Vaarandi, Risto, “Crossed Swords: A Cyber Red Team Oriented Technical Exercise.”

This paper describes the use-case of international technical cyber exercise “Crossed Swords” aimed at training the NATO nation cyber red teams within a responsive cyber defence scenario. This exercise plays a full-spectrum cyber operation, incorporates novel red teaming techniques, tools, tactics and procedures (TTTPs), assesses team design and management, trains the skills for target information system covert infiltration, precision take-down, cyberattack attribution, and considers legal implications. Exercise developers and participants have confirmed the learning benefits, significant improvements in understanding the employed TTTPs, cyber-kinetic interaction, stealthy computer network infiltration and full-spectrum cyber operation execution.

Rege, Aunshul; Adams, Joe; Parker, Edward; Singer, Brian; Masceri, Nicholas; et al., “Using Cyber-Security Exercises to Study Adversarial Intrusion Chains, Decision-Making, and Group Dynamics.”

Increasingly adversaries are becoming more sophisticated and persistent in their cyber-attacks against critical infrastructures. Traditional incident management is response-driven, which is ineffective and costly, especially in countering adaptive adversaries. The security community has argued for a paradigm shift towards proactive and anticipatory cybersecurity. Defenders thus need to understand adaptive behaviors and dynamic decision-making processes of adversaries. Using a cyber-adversarial intrusion-chain model and empirical evidence of observations done at a force on force (“paintball”) exercise held at the 2015 North American International Cyber Summit (NAICS), this paper argues that understanding how adversaries adapt at various points in the intrusion chain is crucial in profiling adversaries and developing anticipatory cybersecurity measures. Specifically, this paper highlights the human aspects of cyber-attacks, with three specific objectives: (i) providing a preliminary temporal assessment of the cyber-attack process, (ii) understanding adversarial decision-making, cyber-attack disruptions and corresponding adaptability, and (iii) comprehending group dynamics, such as structure and interdependencies; cohesiveness and conflict; and division of labor.

Contested Holy Cities: The Urban Dimension of Religious Conflicts

image.pngRoutledge has just published Contested Holy Cities: The Urban Dimension of Religious Conflict, edited by Mick Dumper.

Examining contestation and conflict management within holy cities, this book provides both an overview and a range of options available to those concerned with this increasingly urgent phenomenon.

In cities in India, the Balkans and the Mediterranean, we can see examples where religion plays a dominant role in urban development and thus provides a platform for conflict. Powerful religious hierarchies, the generation of often unregulated revenues from donations and endowments, the presence of holy sites and the enactment of ritualistic activities in public spaces combine to create forms of conflicts which are, arguably, more intense and more intractable than other forms of conflicts in cities. The book develops a working definition of the urban dimension of religious conflicts so that the kinds of conflicts exhibited can be contextualised and studied in a more targeted manner. It draws together a series of case studies focusing on specific cities, the kinds of religious conflicts occurring in them and the international structures and mechanisms that have emerged to address such conflicts.

Combining expertise from both academics and practitioners in the policy and military world, this interdisciplinary collection will be of particular relevance to scholars and students researching politics and religion, regional studies, geography and urban studies. It should also prove useful to policymakers in the military and other international organisations.

What does this have to do with simulation and gaming, you might ask? Well, the book contains a chapter by yours truly on “Simulating the Urban Dimensions of Religious Conflict,” exploring the “Crisis in Galasi” simulation I ran for Mick’s original conference back in March 2018.

Should you want to buy a copy of the book, this flyer entitles you to a 20% discount.

Matt Caffrey’s “On Wargaming” available as free download

Matt Caffrey’s long-awaited book On Wargaming: How Wargames Have Shaped History and How They May Shape the Future is now available from the US Naval War College Press. What’s more, it’s available as a free download.

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If you want a hard copy, that can be purchased from the US Government Bookstore.

Lin-Greenberg: Drones, escalation, and experimental wargames

 

WoTRdrones.pngAt War on the Rocks, Erik Lin-Greenberg discusses what a series of experimental wargames reveal about drones and escalation risk. The finding: the loss of unmanned platforms presents less risk of escalation.

I developed an innovative approach to explore these dynamics: the experimental wargame. The method allows observers to compare nearly identical, simultaneous wargames — a set of control games, in which a factor of interest does not appear, and a set of treatment games, in which it does. In my experiment, all participants are exposed to the same aircraft shootdown scenario, but participants in treatment games are told the downed aircraft is a drone while those in control games are told it is manned. This allows policymakers to examine whether drones affect decision-making.

The experimental wargames revealed that the deployment of drones can actually contribute to lowerlevels of escalation and greater crisis stability than the deployment of manned assets. These findings help explain how drones affect stability by shedding light on escalation dynamics after an initial drone deployment, something that few existing studies on drones have addressed.

My findings build upon existing research on the low barrier to drone deployment by suggesting that, once conflict has begun, states may find drones useful for limiting escalation. Indeed, states can take action using or against drones without risking significant escalation. The results should ease concerns of drone pessimists and offer valuable insights to policymakers about drones’ effects on conflict dynamics. More broadly, experimental wargaming offers a novel approach to generating insights about national security decision-making that can be used to inform military planning and policy development.

You will find a longer and more detailed account of the study here.

This is a good example of using multiple wargames as an experimental method. Above and beyond this, it also shows how that wargames can generate questions worthy of further investigation.

More specifically, while the loss of a drone is less escalatory, an actor might be more likely to introduce a drone for this reason—possibly deploying one in a situation where they would not have risked a manned platform. If this is true, however, drones may still prove more escalatory overall. In other words, if the wargame is expanded to include the prior decision to deploy assets in the first place, the actual outcome might have been something like this:

  • Blue scenario 1: Deploy manned platform?
    • No, too risky.
    • No platform deployed.
    • Nothing shot down.
    • Result: No escalation.
  • Blue scenario 2: Deploy drone?
    • Yes, because no pilot at risk.
    • Drone shot down.
    • Result: Minor escalation.

Or, with regard to another situation—perhaps local air defences would have been reluctant to engage a manned aircraft because of the evident risk of escalation, but would happily shoot down a drone. In this case the experimental findings might have been:

  • Red scenario 1: Shoot down aircraft?
    • No, too risky.
    • Nothing shot down.
    • Result: No escalation.
  • Red scenario 2: Shoot down drone?
    • Yes, because no pilot at risk.
    • Drone shot down.
    • Result: Minor escalation.

In fact, if you read the full paper you will see this is exactly what occurred in a scenario involving a  shoot-down decision: participants were much more likely to use force against an unmanned drone.

In other words, while the study suggests that drones might reduce the chance of escalation, it also suggests that we also need to investigate whether the lower perceived risk of drone-related escalation might cause Blue to undertake more provocative overflights, or might lead Red to undertake more potentially escalatory shoot-downs.

Figure 1 below shows the main experiment: aircraft shoot-downs lead to major escalations, drone shoot-downs to minor escalation.

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Figure 1: Experimental results suggest shoot-down of manned aircraft results in greater escalation.

Given the risk of escalation, however, decision-makers might decide against overflight in the first place.

Figure 2 examines a situation where no drones are available. It incorporates the possibility that decision-makers simply refrain from overflight because of the escalation risk, and assigns a (plausible but entirely made-up) probability to this. Moreover, knowing that a shoot-down of a manned aircraft is likely to cause escalation—a tendency noted by Lin-Greenberg’s other experiment—perhaps Red won’t actually open fire. Again, I have assigned a (plausible) probability to this. These numbers are just for the purposes of illustration, but here we note that with manned overflight as the only option there is a 16% chance of escalation.

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Figure 2: Considering other decision points. Should Blue even send an aircraft, given risk of escalation? Should Red engage it, given the risks?

In this fuller model, now let us introduce drones (Figure 3). Given that they are less likely to cause escalation, let us assume that (1) Blue is likely to prefer them over a manned ISR platform, (as per earlier findings) (2) Red is more likely to shoot them down, and that (3) shooting down a drone causes minor rather than major escalation. Once again, I’ve assigned some plausible probabilities for the purposes of illustration.

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Figure: Adding drones to the mix.

When we add drones into the mix, the risk of major escalation drops from 16% to 4%, but, the risk of some form of escalation actually increases to 60%.  Does this mean that drones have actually limited the risk of escalation, or increased it? Moreover, it is possible that tit-for-tat minor escalation over drone shoot-downs could grow over time to major escalation. If that were the case, it is possible that drones—rather than limiting conflict—are a sort of easy-to-use “gateway drug” to more serious problems.

Remember that I’ve essentially invented all of my probabilities to make a methodological point (although I have tried to make them plausible). My point here is not in any way to criticize Lin-Greenberg’s experimental findings—I suspect he is right. It is to say that the two sets of wargame experiments he undertook are useful not only for their immediate findings, but also to the extent that they generate additional questions to be investigated.

 

 

Jensen: Wargaming the Future

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At War on the Rocks this week there is an excellent piece by Benjamin Jensen entitled “Welcome to Fight Club: Wargaming the Future” in which he explores the use of competitive wargaming to explore the impact of new technologies and capabilities on the battlefield.

…since 2015 the Marine Corps University and Marine Corps Warfighting Lab have used a special series of wargames to reimagine amphibious operations for the 21st century. In this initiative, dubbed “Fight Club,” students from the Command and Staff College work with groups ranging from DARPA to the Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities at the Potomac Institute to stress-test capstone Marine Corps concepts associated with amphibious operations. The results of these games have produced four major lessons-learned studies on topics like manned-unmanned teaming and narrow artificial intelligence applications.

Fight Club splits the students into competing sides and asks the groups to develop a plan and fight against each other in multiple iterations, including redoing the exercise as a controlled experiment by adding a new capability or concept. For example, one team might try an amphibious assault with current force structure and equipment and then retry it with future capabilities, such as the use of swarms to reduce risk and compound shock and dislocation. Having military professionals fight each other in secure environments and allowing for controlled excursions allows them to imagine future war and think through the concepts, capabilities, and organizations required to maintain a competitive edge.

There are four aspects of Fight Club that make it unique. First, all games are competitive and involve teams fighting other teams. There is a big difference between fighting an algorithm or scenario and fighting another human being. Fighting other people highlights fog, friction, uncertainty, and how new technologies risk compounding their effects.

Second, the games are designed using social science methods to analyze the difference between control and treatment groups. That is, participants start with a baseline game that involves current capabilities, and then another group fights with new capabilities. This allows the designers to assess the utility of new concepts and capabilities like manned-unmanned, teaming, deception, and various technologies associated with swarming.

Third, unlike many large Department of Defense wargames, the participants in Fight Club are top officers with recent operational experience. Instead of combing the Pentagon to find random bodies or relying solely on retired officers-turned-contractors, the effort targets field-grade officers in professional military education programs or military fellowships.

Fourth, the games involve creative combinations of seminar-style and computer-based adjudication methods. Through seminar-style components, wargame designers capture participants’ novel ideas and insights. Through low-cost but high-fidelity computer-based adjudication, including the Joint Warfare Adjudication Model developed by the Center for Army Analysis and commercial games, the game designers generate the data they need to better analyze the results, test assumptions, and rerun portions of the game.

It’s a very useful account of how competitive and repetitive gaming can be used to generate potential insight. Of course, one cannot draw any firm conclusions with an experiment where n=1 or n=2 (that is, a small number of games for any one set of experimental conditions), but one can generate questions and issues that deserve further thinking about and investigation. Good wargaming, after all, is about the cycle of research, and can be a useful part of triangulation in mixed-methods analysis.

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