Air Force Research Laboratory Innovation – Pushing the Envelope in Analytical Wargaming


Posted: December 1, 2016 | By: Jaime J. Bestard

Models, Simulations and Wargames

Wargames are powerful tools to explore problems where humans must make decisions in challenging situations and generate possible solutions. Wargames offer structured and rigorous environments where participants can evaluate strategies, concepts of operations, and technologies across the different levels of war to identify key limiting factors and expose innovative options. For an Enterprise charged with the scientific and technical innovation of the United States Air Force, wargames offer an exceptional resource for informing strategic investment decisions.

Models offer Defense professionals with abstract representations of future technologies that can improve warfighting capabilities. These representations can help understand how a weapons system will be transported, its payload capacity, the technologies it uses to operate effectively, and the processes necessary to execute its mission. Simulations are the representation of the behavior or characteristics of one system through the use of another system, typically a computer program designed for the purpose. M&S offer opportunities to constructively test a system or system of systems and its behavior without conducting live trials. M&S also provides the option of varying system characteristics, such as adding performance attributes for new technologies into the simulation and evaluating the utility at various levels of play. Virtual M&S includes humans in the loop integrated with mathematical M&S and allows operators “seeing” the constructive picture of war to interact with it, using new technologies within a scenario to evaluate improved performance and develop concepts of operations (CONOPS) and employment (CONEMP) and tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP). Wargames (military simulations) test warfare theories and human decision-making and are perceived as useful in the development and evaluation of doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership, personnel and facilities (DOTMLPF) solutions.

Traditional wargames have not depended on science and technology (S&T) to support military decision makers. However, the integration of S&T and skillsets to facilitate data exploitation (e.g., operations research, science and engineering) are the core of analytical wargames and facilitate the gaming process while making these powerful tools more interactive. Such integration will improve an environment often seen as the realm of historians, political scientists, and military officers with little formal analytical training and awareness of emerging technologies. These improvements will not only increase the quality of wargames and their products, but will facilitate data-driven exploration of military utility for new and integrated S&T concepts. The AFRL Enterprise benefits from analytical game play through feedback of adequate requirements and insights into potential CONEMP for augmenting the strategic, operational, and tactical capabilities of advanced technologies.

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