Cloud-based decision support system for planning military operations

FFI-Report 2020
Rikke Amilde Seehuus Ørjan Rogne Rise Jo Erskine Hannay Roar Wold Philip Matlary

When planning a military operation, it is important to explore possibilities and understand con-sequences of the plan. To this end, wargaming can be used for assessing possible courses ofaction (COA) for own and enemy forces. Traditionally, this is done by humans alone, drawing tacticalgraphics and moving pieces representing military units on a large map. We propose that computer-assisted wargaming holds a potential to help military commanders visualize, evaluate and sharedifferent possibilities and consequences, beyond what is supported by the traditional and current methods.

“Simulation-supported Wargaming for Analysis of Plans” (SWAP) is a research prototype of a decisionsupport system (DSS) for military, tactical planning. The system consists of a simulation system thatruns in the cloud, and an intuitive web-based, graphical user interface that does not require a lot oftraining. The user interface has basic functionality for terrain analysis, such as route planning andidentification of favorable vantage points around a target area. A user can assign basic tasks to unitsand create phase lines to coordinate task executions, thus specifying a COA. The user can thenchoose to simulate the COA to reveal possible consequences such as engagements, losses, timeexpenditure and resource consumption.

In February 2019, we conducted an experiment with 52 final-year cadets from the the NorwegianMilitary Academy. The purpose was to test using a simulation based DSS and compare it to thetraditional way of wargaming for COA development and analysis. The cadets were divided intogroups and asked to make simplified decision briefings for two different battalion operations, onewhen using SWAP and one while using the traditional method.

In this report we describe SWAP, and based on the results of the study, including feedback from thecadets, we discuss the potential and requiremets of such a system for operations planning. Theobjective of this report is to convey to Norwegian Armed Forces stakeholders the potential we see inusing computers and simulation to assist military planning and decision making.

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