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Tag Archives: Stability Operations

CGSC stability operations simulation follow-up

As you may remember, last month some of the folks at the Digital Leader Development Center, US Army Command and General Staff College asked PAXsims to help crowd-source comments and ideas for a proposed stability operations simulation. That request prompted quite a few comments, both at PAXsims and elsewhere, as well as some broader media coverage.

James Sterrett has now sent us this update:

About a month ago, Rex kindly posted CGSC’s draft Stability Operations requirements documents.  Expecting a handful of replies, we were hit by a large wave of responses, both at PaxSims and elsewhere.  We are busily reworking the draft in light of the feedback.

THANK YOU to everyone who responded.  We truly appreciate the time and effort you put in to assist us.  Also, THANK YOU to Rex for posting it!

The various replies have proven helpful in four ways:

1) Design commentary

Number of Actors: Modeling the number of actors involved in stability operations emerged as a common theme in the commentary.  We were trying to incorporate this and are working to strengthen and clarify it.

Flexibility emerged as a common theme as well.  The community agreed that the game needs to foster a deeper understanding of conducting stability operations, that any simulation used should be descriptive rather than prescriptive in its nature and strongly instructor-driven. Implicit in this is the assumption that the instructor must have as much control and flexibility of the simulation as possible.    We strongly agree with this, and thought it was codified in our documents; this is an area we are working hard to clarify.

2) We received a number of suggestions of simulations to look into, including GEMSTONE, PSOM, IW TWG, Athena, SENSE, and the Oz Wargame Integration Toolkit.  We’ve already had demonstrations of some of these are and working on demos for the rest; some we have seen in the past but they have grown new capabilities.  Even when we can’t see how to utilize them directly, it is always useful to see others’ design concepts.  PAVE (part of TRAC-MRO’s IW TWG) is soon to undergo a closer look to see if we can modify it to meet our needs.

3) We made connections with organizations we hadn’t known existed, such as the TRADOC Analysis Center’s Modeling and Research Office (TRAC-MRO) and the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute.  TRAC-MRO’s office is less than 500 meters from us, but neither of us knew the other existed.

4) We thought we had made the exercise structure and POI clear, but a variety of comments demonstrated that we did not.  If PAXSims readers didn’t understand it from our documents, then we clearly need to improve the description!

                                                                        James Sterrett

                                                                        Deputy Chief, Simulations Division

                                                                        Digital Leader Development Center

                                                                        US Army Command & General Staff College

If any readers still have comments or suggestions that they would like to make, have a look at the original post (linked above) and add your comments here.

Simulating stability operations: the discussion continues

We’ve had quite a response at PAXsims to the recent request from the folks at the US Army Command and General Staff College for comments on their draft requirements for a simulation on stability operations—it has had several hundred page views, and there is now a very rich discussion in the comments section there.

One of the discussion contributors has been Graham Longley-Brown, who offered  the insights below. His graphic couldn’t be included in the comments section, so I’ve reproduced the whole thing here as a blogpost.

The diagram above is a ‘Campaign Tree’ process I developed for a ‘Hybrid Warfare Tactical Wargame’ at our Land Warfare Centre. This supports training for company HQ and/or battalion HQ commanders and staff. It addresses some of the points discussed – and it works! The concept is simple: the Training Audience (TA) move through the Campaign Tree from vignette to vignette along a path determined by their own decisions and actions. Vignettes are played out in real-time and use a real-time (largely kinetic) simulation. The TA decisions and actions taken – under pressure – during each vignette are adjudicated by Excon SMEs and dictate the path taken to the next vignette on the Campaign Tree. The periods between vignettes are modelled using a soft factors simulation and last from 3 – 8 weeks. Hence the consequences of the actions taken by the TA during the vignettes, combined with their ongoing Concept of Operations and decisions taken in response to injects and events fed in by Excon are played out during the longer time periods. The solid lines show one path through the Campaign Tree (with associated TA and Excon briefings) but obviously any path is possible.

The process integrates two simulations, both adjudicated and moderated by Excon ‘Rainbow Cell’ SMEs. MEL/MIL injects are used as required to bring out Teaching Points; these are, in the main, pre-considered but can be dynamically scripted. Likewise the vignettes are pre-considered and pre-loaded in the real-time simulation but can be modified just before going live depending on the TA plan during the preceding time period and can be executed however Excon deems appropriate. The diagram doesn’t show AARs, information flows etc – it’s just the bare bones concept.

Although I think this is quite a simple concept it’s hard work to pull all the elements together in the space of a 1-day training event that spans most or all of an operational tour deployment in game time. But it works…

The thing I love most about it is that it allows the TA to create their own narrative; it’s their actions that determine the path through the Campaign Tree – their story. Hence they are more likely to internalise lessons learned. Check out Peter Perla and Ed McGrady’s Naval War College article “Why Wargaming Works for more on why a created narrative, as opposed to a presented narrative is so strong a learning mechanism.

The process is also very flexible. Delete the soft factors sim and insert a board game if you like. Run it all using just deterministic Military Judgement.

So what? Paul makes the point very well that the GCSC requirement assumes a computer simulation solution that can do everything.  I don’t think such a sim exists, or will do in the near future. A more flexible approach is needed that integrates a number of simulation methods and exercise processes.  Paul’s ‘Right answer’ of a ‘family of games (decision-centric tools) where the students use a variety of small, purpose focused games to get at specific aspects of the problem‘ is spot on. Rex’s ‘preselected teachable moments‘ are encapsulated in various places in the Campaign Tree, and lessons learned are reinforced by the narrative created by the TA themselves. In summary, I suspect that the GCSC solution will need some innovative thinking rather than assuming (hoping?) that someone will come up with a sim that walks on water.

Have thoughts of your own? Go contribute here.

Comments wanted: Draft CGSC “stability operations” simulation requirements

The US Army Command and General Staff College is currently developing its ideas and requirements for a stability operations simulation that would be used in professional military education at the CGSC and elsewhere. They’re also crowd-sourcing ideas and feedback—and so they’ve asked for your help, via PAXsims. There is a summary of the challenge below, and two attached documents to look over (here and here).

The US military defines stability operations as “various military missions, tasks, and activities conducted outside the United States in coordination with other instruments of national power to maintain or reestablish a safe and secure environment, provide essential governmental services, emergency infrastructure reconstruction, and humanitarian relief.” This might involve foreign humanitarian assistance and disaster response, peace operations, counterinsurgency, or combinations of these—usually undertaken in fragile and conflict-affected states. (For more detail, have a look at the US Army field manual on the subject, FM 3-07.)

For those of you who aren’t used to the jargon of the military and the military simulation community some of the material attached below will be unfamiliar. Don’t worry about that, however—the core question here is really one of “what do simulation users need to learn about stability operations, and how might a simulation best teach them that?” Folks who work in the humanitarian and development communities, or who work on the politics and economics of fragile and conflict-affected states, may have especially valuable “outside” perspectives to offer.

If you do have comments, ideas, or suggestions, please post them here in the comments section.

* * *

Attached below is a very rough draft of requirements for a stability operations simulation intended to support staff exercises at the US Army Command and General Staff College. We’re looking for comments, and we’re interested in any simulations that might already fit these.

Overview: This document outlines required functional capabilities and training effects for a Stability Operations simulation enabling student staff exercises at echelons from battalion through brigade. There is no requirement to interface with the Live, Virtual, Constructive – Integrating Architecture (LVC-IA). At this time, the only Mission Command System that needs to be populated is Command Post of the Future (CPoF). There is no requirement to federate with other simulations. Stimulating additional Mission Command systems, federating with other simulations, and working with LVC-IA is acceptable if and only if there is no additional workload or cost associated with the capability and those systems are not required for fully capable operation. This document will assist the Material Developer to better understand the required functional capabilities and training effects to be included in the Simulation.
Description: The purpose of this Use Case is to provide requirements for a simulation to support competitive-play low-overhead educational staff-centric stability operations exercises conducted at battalion through brigade level by Professional Military Education (PME) students acting as commanders and key staff officers. This simulation is focused on Stability Operations and enables experiential educational environments. It adjudicates the results of student staff planning and decisions, requiring students to adapt their plans to an evolving situation. This is not a predictive simulation. It is intended to produce generally plausible outcomes whose dilemmas will drive student learning.

More detailed technical specifications can be found in this enclosure.

This is not a formal statement of requirements, nor is it a solicitation for bids. There will be a long and difficult road between these documents and spending money (and us getting the simulation we need). Eventually, the final version of these documents will go to the National Simulation Center (NSC). Assuming it makes it through a Requirements Board process, the NSC will turn them over to PEO-STRI, who will contract out to have it made. There are no guarantees that the process will go through all those steps.

However, we’d like to have the best thinking on this we can, in hopes of getting the best product at the far end should we get there.

A few other notes, framing what this is supposed to be:

  • As noted above, this is not a predictive simulation. It is intended to produce generally plausible outcomes whose dilemmas will drive student learning.
  • There will not be a full staff, let alone all the supporting & subordinate staffs. Thus, the simulation has to produce data directly into a student-useful format. Correlating spot reports isn’t a useful employment of student’s time; analyzing the meaning of the summary of activity reports is. This allows for a lot of abstraction in the simulation.

Last but not least, apologies for the format. Yes, there is a lot of overlap between the primary document and Enclosure 1. This may give you a window into the “wonderful” world of requirements writing, though.

James Sterrett
Deputy Chief, Simulations
Digital Leader Development Center
US Army Command and General Staff College

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