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Tag Archives: US Marine Corps

RAND: Opportunities for Including the Information Environment in U.S. Marine Corps Wargames

RAND recently published a report by Christopher Paul, Yuna Huh Wong, and Elizabeth Bartels on Opportunities for Including the Information Environment in U.S. Marine Corps Wargames.

The U.S. Marine Corps and joint concepts and thinking increasingly emphasize the role of information in military operations—from maintaining situational awareness to influencing adversary decisionmaking and understanding the behaviors of noncombatant populations. At the same time, wargaming is enjoying renewed prominence in the defense community as a tool to explore potential future conflicts and shape strategy. Yet, the information environment (IE) remains underdeveloped and underrepresented in wargames, both in the Marine Corps and across the U.S. Department of Defense.

An examination of requirements, principles from military theory, current doctrine, and commercial gaming practices points to solutions and changes to game mechanics to better incorporate information considerations into wargame planning, development, and play in ways that can be customized according to available resources, capabilities, and goals. Recommendations target wargame sponsors, wargame designers, and those who are responsible for procuring new tools and recruiting personnel to support wargaming.

Operations in the IE play a role across the spectrum of conflict, and their effects and consequences extend beyond the IE. As the nature of conflict changes, it is critical that wargames reflect realities on the ground, supporting forces in using and defending against increasingly important information-based tools of warfare.

Their key findings…

The IE is receiving greater attention than ever from operational planners, but it has not universally found its way into wargaming.

•Information is playing an increasingly important role in military planning in the U.S. Marine Corps, across the U.S. Department of Defense, and among potential near-peer adversaries. These operational considerations include how certain types of information, misinformation, or sources of influence affect the decisions, beliefs, and behaviors of forces, military leaders, and noncombatants during a conflict or military campaign.

•Concurrently, wargaming has seen an increase in popularity as a method to explore future conflicts in a low-risk environment. However, these games have mostly retained traditional attrition-based models or focus on a small subset of information-related challenges, such as situational awareness or the fog of war.

…and recommendations:

• Everyone involved in wargaming should acknowledge the role of information in operations and seek to better represent the relevant aspects of the IE in games.

• Wargame sponsors should ensure that games serve a broader purpose of preparing forces for realistic operational scenarios, which will inevitably be influenced by the IE. This means emphasizing the role of the IE and its relevance to the game’s purpose at each stage of a game’s design and execution.

• Wargame designers should work with sponsors to identify options for incorporating the IE into games from the earliest stages of planning.

• Those who procure wargame capabilities, including game materials and technologies, should select tools that are able to represent all three spheres of conflict (morale, mental, and physical), a range of conditions that could affect a game’s outcome, and robust models of human dynamics, psychological factors, and information flows.

• Those responsible for recruiting personnel to support wargame design, testing, and execution or identifying subject-matter experts to assist with specific aspects of these tasks should ensure that these contributors have the requisite knowledge of the concepts and practices related to operations in the IE and that they stay current on changes in operational realities.

2016 NATO urban wargame: first impressions

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Scott Kinner (Marine Corps Tactics and Operations Group) recently returned from participating in the 2016 NATO Urban Operations Wargame that was held 28 September to 7 October at the NATO Defense College in Rome:

The wargame utilized personnel from 18 member countries, dividing them into four brigade teams, each of which worked a MEB-level problem set placed in a 2035, smart city, of 5.7 million people.

The wargame addressed offensive, defensive, stability, and expeditionary activities using three vignettes; joint forcible entry into an urban area, offensive and defensive actions to defeat an enemy in an urban area, and transition to host nation government. The brigade teams analyzed proposed 2035 capabilities, and discovered new ones, by fighting each vignette twice – first as today’s force against a 2035 enemy, and then again with 2035 capabilities.

While the wargame would have identified capability requirements and gaps, the presence of Marines proved instrumental in maximizing the event’s potential. This presence, to include a substantial number of practitioners from the Operating Forces, allowed the Marine Corps to fully exploit the game and develop a draft operating concept for the urban environment that will nest under the Marine Operating Concept and join the rest of the Marine Corps family of operating concepts….

You’ll find Scott’s full unclassified “first impressions” report here (pdf).

More information on the wargame can be found at the website of the NATO Modelling and Simulation Centre of Excellence, while broader background information on NATO’s current urbanization project can be found at the NATO ACT website.

h/t Scott Kinner 

US Navy Secretary calls for greater attention to wargaming in USN and USMC

In a memo sent to the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps on May 5, US Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has called upon the USN and USMC to “evolve our approach to wargaming so that it contemplates the future challenges our Sailors and Marines will encounter, and the types of decisions they must make.” The memo lays out a series of steps to be taken, and emphasizes that “Diversity of thought is fundamental to game design and execution. Using the inventive thinking of the [Department of the Navy] workforce – from all ranks, backgrounds, and professional and academic communities – we will create solutions to complex problems and significantly enhance the outcome of games.”

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The memo reflects a general push within the US Department of Defence to renew its commitment to innovative, high-quality wargaming, as directed by Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work in a DoD-wide memo on “wargaming an innovation” issued in February.

Expeditionary Warrior 2013

EW13 Final Report_FINALIn February-March 2013 the US Marine Corps held its annual “Title 10” wargame, Expeditionary Warrior 2013. The game explored a future crisis in 2035 in the fictional country of “Karta,” at a time when geopolitical changes have limited US access to bases and China is more powerful and assertive:

EW13 utilized a fictional scenario set in 2035 Southeast Asia that presented operational challenges for a distributed joint force conducting engagement across the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) area of responsibility. The scenario revolves around the fictional U.S. ally Karta, made up of the real nations of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. When the King of Karta dies unexpectedly, a power struggle ensues between the rightful heir – the oldest prince who is a U.S. friend – and his younger brother, an anti- American traditionalist. When the younger prince takes action to stage a coup, the modern Kartan Armed Forces splinter into camps that pledge their allegiances to the rightful heir or rebel prince, or stay neutral. With a regional conflict brewing astride the strategic Strait of Malacca, a U.S.-led coalition seeks to protect the new king and coalition interests.

A world significantly different than today provides a plausible future beyond the next few budget cycles to stimulate imaginative thinking about FMO. Planners used a “Move 0,” executed in December 2012, two months prior to the Main Event, to establish the strategic assumptions and steady state force laydown within the EW13 scenario. The wargame created a different geopolitical reality that realigned U.S. force posture in the Asia-Pacific region and created operational stressors to the coalition responding to the crisis in Karta. These changes included:

  • A newly unified Korea no longer hosting significant U.S. permanent basing on its soil, forcing changes to U.S. force posture and basing away from Northeast Asia to Southeast Asia.
  • The People’s Republic of China (PRC) unifying with Taiwan after peacefully resolving decades-long tensions. At the same time, the PRC asserts itself in the region due to territorial disputes with other countries.
  • A new Status of Forces Agreement between Japan and the United States prompting a reduction in the military footprint on the island nation. This also prompts U.S. forces to redefine the nature and size of its bases and enabling sites within the region.

The unclassified report on the wargame was published in June. The game was conducted in parallel with three different blue cells, led respectively by US Marine (A), US Navy (B), and Australian (C) officers. Each played the game rather differently. Cell A emphasized direct kinetic operations. Cell B stressed the importance of (shipborne) naval operations. Cell C focussed on information and cyber operations to deescalate the situation, and even when they had recourse to kinetic strikes emphasized “the need to communicate messages that articulated strength and a willingness to provide a ‘way out’ for the Kartan rebel forces.”

The report tends to highlight the findings of the wargame with regard to military capabilities, platforms, command and control, logistics and sustainment, and so forth. However, the very different approaches taken by the three cells—and the apparently greater emphasis of the Australian-led team on conflict deescalation—may be an equally interesting finding.

 

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