The Use of Strategy in Constructive Simulation Models

For all of us that our business core and scientific work is totally connected to simulation, there are numerous assumptions that have to be taken in consideration for providing efficient conclusions and effective solutions to the people that are paying for our work.

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In other words, real life has so many parameters that it is impossible to be described through any kind of a single simulation model and even more from simulation models’ federations or combinations.  That’s why, the number of assumptions in a simulation project determines the level of realism.  Even though some constructive simulation models are using artificial intelligence for producing results, there is no guarantee that the input is realistic and the databases describe the majority of parameters that characterize the entities. The oldest constructive simulation models, based on war gaming mathematical environment, using mostly differential equations and statistical standards, are producing results which sometimes seem to be totally unrealistic. On the other hand, other constructive simulation models, especially in the tactical military level, are using a complex mathematical model for computations, either by using a combination of physical and statistic methods or Markovian chains and high leveled operational research tools such as dynamic programming.

Even though in the military tactical level the results of a simulated single activity are very close to reality, there is always present the statistical mistake, which most of times in the real world determines the result of an operation. As technology moving on, new mathematical tools and physical methods are provided by the international scientific community to simulation models developers for upgrading their software and assist them to come closer to a more detailed representation of the entities, which is the key for realistic results.

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A significant question that all simulation professional have to answer is the representation of procedures in constructive simulation models. As the entities can be described with great success and with full detail, graphics can be really impressive and 3D maps are now used from every well-known constructive simulation model developer, the issue of how processes and procedures are depicted and the interrelations between the entities are described, still remains.

There is a set of complicated and specialized methods which can, up to a point, to connect entities in order to give the feeling of process description, but this is not accurate, as constructive simulation models which mainly use relational databases (Oracle, MS SQL, PL SQL, etc.) cannot provide respectively realistic processes and procedures representation.

The whole situation is treated by simulation experts and professionals as a minor issue and many times the incapability of representation of processes and procedures, is crystal clear to operational people that trying to understand why they have to accept the results of simulation. A very straight and honest perspective for the operational personnel should be the analysis of simulation results under the prism of the statistical mistake. There are several mathematical tools which can be used to determine the percentage of acceptance of simulation results and their relation to the processes – procedures representation in the simulation model.

In this way, even procedures with minor significance may affect the percentage of results faults, but if a computation method of statistical mistake can produce the acceptance value of simulation results, the operational people will feel a lot better.

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In almost all Computer Assisted (CAX) and Command Post Exercises (CPX) using simulation, there is always a doubt from operational personnel concerning the results of simulation. Especially questions like how training, doctrines and strategy are represented in the simulation model had no convincing answers from simulation experts and technical personnel. In lots of CAX – CPX’s, operational planning had numerous gaps coming mainly from unrealistic planning or overestimation of capabilities of the armed forces and their means which used to accomplish their missions. In such cases, simulation results that were not very encouraging for the planners. In addition to the level of training that Training Audience was receiving and which sometimes was affected from the ignorance of a CAX – CPX objectives, operational personnel were trying to cover their own weaknesses under the incapability of construction simulation models to represent processes and mainly to represent doctrines and strategy.

Let us try to describe how strategy is represented in a constructive simulation model. First we are going to understand the meaning of strategy by providing a number of definitions:

  • The art of the employment of battles as a means to gain the object of war, (Clausewitz).
  • The practical adaptation of the means placed at a general’s disposal to the attainment of the object in view, (Moltke).
  • The art of distributing and applying military means to fulfil the ends of policy, (Liddell Hart).
  • A method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future, such as achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.
  • The science and art of employing the political, economic, psychological, and military forces of a nation or group of nations to afford the maximum support to adopted policies in peace or war.

The above definitions are using the word art, which means that strategic planners need to use their fantasy and talent, as every artist does. Also the word science reveals that strategy requires knowledge to the level of science, of how, when and where the assets should be used. As a matter of fact, strategic planning is not something that a usual military mind produce. There is an indisputable high level combination of knowledge and art included in strategic planning. In other words, a strategic planner needs serious knowledge, applicable fantasy and common sense for producing a credible planning.

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As difficult it is to sustain a strategy, it is of great difficulty to “insert” the planning in a simulation scenario and even pore to represent it in a constructive simulation model. Let us try to give a definition of strategy through the prism of constructive simulation:

Strategy is the set of activities that a group of simulated entities undertake, as a plan of predefined simulations orders, for achieving the main objective of a scenario.

In other words, a strategy can be represented in a constructive simulation model through a detailed plan that every entity has to follow. This plan is analyzed in a set simulation orders, representing operational moves, which fully describes time, areas (theatre) of operations and targets. Having in mind the main objective of the scenario for a specific side (friendly or enemy), this plan is under the limitations and the rules of the doctrines, weapons and personnel capabilities.

A more simplified version, in order to be clearer, is that strategy is represented in a constructive simulation model by a complex combination of moves for every entity that has a role in the scenario. This simplification assist technical personnel to understand how to create the set of simulation orders. In one way or another, simulation experts need to get trained methodologically in military operations fundamentals, or vice versa, military personnel need to get trained in simulation issues, or both.

Which choice is the most cost effective and time saving? Of course to produce simulation experts from people with military background. CAX experts, without military background, sometimes are more productive and easy treated than experts with military background. This happens mainly because experts with military background have not a “strategic thinking” perspective.

This fact comes to put an important note about the skills of a CAX expert, where “strategic thinking” is a must, mainly because strategy has to be carefully “inserted” to the constructive simulation model and fantasy is a top characteristic for achieving this target.

Finally, operational people that participate in a CAX, have to adapt the idea that strategy (which includes doctrines) can be realistically represented in constructive simulation and get also convinced that the method of doing this is widely accepted by both technical and operational personnel.

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