Modeling, SImulation and War Gaming
© 2005 FrontLine Defence (Vol 2, No 4)

The last few years have seen the terms modeling and simulation being associated with military operations and force development at an almost exponential rate. In November, 2000 National Defence Headquarters released a concept paper entitled “Creating the CF of 2020.” That paper stated “Given the uncertain nature of the future security environment,” the integrated use of Modeling & Simulation (M&S) is a valuable tool “for forging the best, flexible posture for the future with the resources available... [and holds] the potential to craft forces that are more responsive and adaptable for an uncertain world.”

The Navy consequently issued an order on Maritime Command M&S Policy, which directed that “the Canadian Navy will incorporate modeling and simulation as an integral part of all of its decision-making processes including those related to maritime operations, training, research and development, and simulation-based acquisition.”

M&S Today
A model is a physical or mathematical representation of a system, real world entity, phenomenon, or process. This may be the Halifax-Class model sitting in the entrance to MARLANT headquarters, or the Halifax-Class model that resides in a computer and consists of weapon and sensor parameters and manoeuvring characteristics. A simulation is simply the implementation of a model, or models, over time.

Canadian Maritime forces have a long history in using simulation, especially for training that dates back to the anti-submarine warfare tactics trainer of World War II. Countless sailors have conducted navigation and operations training in ship simulators on both coasts. Students are run through submarine and aircraft simulators, or the Unit Weapons Trainer ­(“firing” small arms and the 40mm gun). Further, individual training in command and control, acoustics and electronic warfare is frequently augmented by PC-based systems. In fact, there are over 150 different simulation-base trainers throughout the schools and units of Maritime Command, ranging from the larger team and multi-unit trainers to smaller applications designed for one person.

Notwithstanding the ubiquitous use of simulation in training, the area of greatest growth is in experimentation. Nothing could have emphasized its importance more than the recent Canadian International Policy Statement A Role of Pride and Influence in the World. The Armed Forces, it reads, will “place greater emphasis on experimentation to develop doctrine and concepts,” including the establishment of “a unified concepts, doctrine and experimentation unit that will rely on advanced simulation to develop new capabilities for the evolving operational environment.”

In the maritime community, that role is being fulfilled by the Maritime Warfare Centre and the Defence Research & Development Centres, where simulation is used to develop tactics and procedures in such diverse fields as:

  • anti-ship torpedo defence;
  • the defence of naval task groups against multiple attacking missiles and aircraft;
  • weapon firings, which are supported by simulation in the planning, rehearsal, and analysis stages;
  • the employment of new equipment, such as unmanned aerial vehicles and new shipborne helicopters;
  • ship’s motion in response to sea state, to eventually include structural response to weapon impacts;
  • anti-submarine operations, through the integration of ship, aircraft and acoustic models; and
  • the redesign of the logic used by our Halifax-Class command and control system in threat evaluation, with the aim of improving Task Group interoperability and mission effectiveness in anti-missile defence.

From the hardware perspective, the Maritime Warfare Centre is developing a Battle Lab – a large scale, immersive, visual system that will support mission rehearsals and can also be used for data analysis, research, tactical development, and even the investigation of improved command and control processes and procedures.

Though a great deal of time and money has been expended on simulations over the years, many of these systems and projects have been developed independently, and are operating independently, to the detriment of coordinated operations. Consequently, aircrew in Shearwater’s Sea King simulator or Greenwood’s Aurora simulator are getting no practice in communicating with Naval air controllers, because there is no link to Halifax. Command teams in ship and submarine trainers are pitting their skills against school staff, not each other. We are now seeing the development of technologies, standards (such as High Level Architec­ture or HLA), and computer networks that allow for interfacing.

We are also seeing the arrival of a generation of sailors who are quite comfortable with playing computer games across the Internet. There is an increased demand for trainer systems to be dynamically reconfigurable and highly portable. The Navy is devoting considerable effort to finding optimum ways to make our various simulation resources communicate effectively among themselves.

Consequently, the Navy is an active participant in the Canadian joint simulation exercise War-in-a-Box (WIB). Scheduled for early next year, it will consist of Army, Navy, and Air Force simulations that will be linked together across Canada to provide a joint synthetic environment that stimulates respective command and control systems in a noncombatant extraction scenario. The aim of the naval involvement is to develop expertise within Maritime Command in creating a joint synthetic environment, to demonstrate the utility of distributed simulation to mission rehearsal and options analysis, and to facilitate Canadian Joint participation in Coalition Synthetic Environment exercises.

Many of our allies are in a similar phase in their M&S development. The United Kingdom and Germany have both been experimenting with connecting to coalition exercises. Along a similar line, but at a much larger scale, is the work being done by the United States Navy (USN). For example, February saw the execution of the Maritime Battle Group Inport Exercise (MBGIE) 05-1, a distributed simulation coordinated out of Norfolk, Virginia, but connected to 12 ships alongside in Norfolk and Mayport, army and air force simulations across the country, and two ship simulators in southern England. The exercise’s goal was to “integrate joint and coalition forces, geographically separated, in a realistic, tactically demanding training environment.” These virtual exercises have the potential to augment, or even partially replace, existing sea days at a saving of millions of dollars. By preparing the individual players, better use is made of expensive sea, field and flying time. The Canadian Navy will have an active role in MBGIE’s successor, scheduled for this August.

M&S Tomorrow
Exercises like WIB and MBGIE open the door to a host of possible options, with far reaching implications in training and mission rehearsals. Ship, submarine and helicopter simulators can now be linked together to improve the quality of training. In preparing for a deployment, the Joint Force Commander could conduct a mission rehearsal with his staff in the Maritime Warfare Centre, directing ships teams in the schools’ simulators or in ships alongside, while his fighter controller could be talking to and interacting with pilots flying CF-I8 simulators in Cold Lake and Bagotville. Further, all of this could be a part of a larger NATO exercise, with staff and simulations spread across two continents.

Another area available to us, and long exploited by the USN, is war gaming. An integral part of the USN’s Naval War College since 1887, War Gaming is being used there to “create a risk-free environment in which leaders and their staffs can exercise and analyze their organization’s decision-making process for various real-world activities; to provide a formal structure and methodology for decision-makers to conduct a rigorous self-examination and organizational assessment.” It provides an excellent opportunity for Naval Task Group and Joint Task Force commanders to analyse options at an operational or strategic level, and to conduct training with their staffs. Maritime Command will be implementing War Gaming in a distributed simulation environment.

With the approval of the Navy’s Modeling and Simulation directive and the establishment of an M&S coordination office in the Maritime Warfare Centre, the Chief of Maritime Staff now has the means to identify resources and capabilities to inexpensively economically and effectively develop and rehearse any maritime or joint scenario. The Navy recognizes and uses the ability of modeling and simulation Further, simulation can be used to conceptualise, trial, evaluate and manage new equipment and concepts in order to fulfill future operational capability requirements.

This process is gaining wide coverage under the acronym SEBA, for Synthetic Environment Based Acquisition, a concept currently being explored in Defence R&D Canada’s Collaborative Capability Definition Engineering and Management (CAPDEM) Technology Demonstration Project. Add to this the long-standing use of simulation in the training environment and it is clear that Synthetic Environments are critical for operational preparations. Maritime Command is ensuring that this capability is exploited to its fullest.

LCdr (ret) Michael Hambley is responsible for policy and standards in the Maritime Synthetic Environment Coordination Office at the Canadian Forces Maritime Warfare Centre. He joined the Warfare Centre after retiring from the Navy as senior tactics officer at the Naval Operations School.
© FrontLine Defence 2005