Simulation of Human Behavior Helps Military Training Models

By Erwin, Sandra I. | National Defense, November 2000 | Go to article overview

Simulation of Human Behavior Helps Military Training Models


Erwin, Sandra I., National Defense


Training drills conducted by the U.S. military services increasingly feature more digital simulations, said Army Col. Wm. Forrest Crain, director of the Defense Modeling and Simulation Office. He also noted that the simulation technology available today falls short in many areas.

"The number of simulation-supported training events is steadily growing," he said. This fiscal year, the Defense Department conducted 22 simulation-driven multi-service exercises. But the use of computer models in military planning does not always work as advertised. "Computers in 1964 predicted the United States would win Vietnam War," Crain said in an interview in Tysons Corner, Va. "In 1990, computers predicted there would be tens of thousands of casualties in the Gulf War."

The reason those models didn't work was because they couldn't properly simulate human behavior, he explained. The next generation of simulations will need to address the "representation" of human behavior, Crain said. "We've barely scratched the surface."

The Defense Modeling and Simulation Office (DMSO), which reports to the Pentagon's director of research and engineering, is responsible for advocating investments by the military services in simulations technologies, which are used for everything from weapon design, to troop training and war planning.

"The proper role that DMSO has is to support the community at large, rather than a specific program," said Crain. One exception to that policy has been DMSO's direct involvement in the troubled JSIMS (joint simulation system) program. The project started in 1994, and was conceived as the "flagship" modeling and simulation technology that eventually would replace outdated legacy systems. JSIMS would be used in distributed training, mission planning and mission rehearsal. But JSIMS has been plagued by delays and budget cuts, and, currently, is scheduled to become operational in late 2002. DMSO officials were asked to become more closely involved with JSIMS, in order to save the program and the Defense Department's large investment.

"The cost of the program exceeded $1 billion, to develop a 'simulation of simulations' to support the training of all services," said Crain. But he believes the expense will be justified, if JSIMS can replace the dozens of simulations that the individual services have developed. "At least 30 or more models and simulations were used in Korea for the Ulchi Focus Lens exercise" last year, said Crain. "Those models and simulations represent various pieces within the services--air defense, air campaign, ground fighting simulations. JSIMS is replacing all that."

Another joint simulation program under way, called JMASS, aims to provide a common repository of digital models, which would facilitate "simulation-based acquisition," said Cindy Porubcansky, program manager of the joint modeling and simulation system (JMASS). "We are building tools and services to build models. We are not a simulation. We are a toolkit," she explained.

DMSO will be taking an active role in simulation-based acquisition, said Crain. This capability allows weapon developers to design and build systems entirely in digital environments. The technology has been used in programs such as the Joint Strike Fighter and in commercial Boeing jets. Air Force Lt. Col. Eileen Borjman is DMSO's liaison to the Pentagon for simulation-based acquisition (SBA) projects. "I found that when you don't have someone with an assigned responsibility, no one is held responsible to coordinate," Crain said.

SBA, however, has been hampered by the lack of model sharing among the services and by unresolved issues such as protection of intellectual property and technical data rights. "I don't know that we are far enough along in SBA right now to say that it will or will not work," said Crain. "We are looking at the databases of each service. ... It's important for them to have access to each other's databases to fight in a joint environment. …

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Simulation of Human Behavior Helps Military Training Models
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