can be justified. Moreover, as the battlespace continues to increase in complexity, and as outcomes rely less on mere attritional or maneuver success and more on multivariable interactions, new computational approaches will be needed to support the more complex MS&A required. This difficulty is exacerbated by MS&A’s inability to represent network-centric phenomena.

Combat is viewed by many today as systems of interconnected systems or, more formally, as complex adaptive systems (CAS). These CAS generate properties that are not unlike those that have been examined over the past decade or so by scientists who are concerned with complex phenomena in economics, meteorology, and ecosystems and who claim to have the computational capability to do so adequately. Salient among these complex, adaptive properties are self-organization and emergence.

On the battlefield, “exploitable complexity” is the military’s attempt to produce self-organizing and emergent effects through indirect (often very indirect) means. In fact, the generation of effects-based operations (EBO) is viewed in military science as having the potential to be important in the future, for reasons that are beyond the scope of this report. Nevertheless, in the future MS&A must be able to facilitate the discovery, derivation, and analysis of tactics, operations, and strategies that produce “intended emergence,” which is precisely what EBO attempts to do. There are arguably few problems that are more important, or more difficult, to represent than those associated with EBO. To provide the necessary analytic support for EBO, it is essential to significantly accelerate the rate of progress in the entire science base underlying military MS&A, including both MS&A science and military science.

A program of research for military ends, including both MS&A science and basic military science, is unlikely to happen without DoD sponsorship and support. The area is not particularly attractive to outsiders and, even if it were, they would find it difficult to get access to the needed information. Defense MS&A is crucially important, requiring DoD support in order to avoid losing many of the benefits from DoD’s efforts in the more generic aspects of modeling and simulation.

Recommendation 14: DoD should identify (or create) and charge an organization with responsibility for developing and supporting a program of research and development directed at improving and updating the base of military science for combat and noncombat modeling. That same organization would be responsible for effecting the recommendations on education that are called for in Chapter 5.

To be sure, there are many shortcomings even in the scientific base for traditional MS&A, as well as continuing debates about such things as the appropriate form of attrition equations, movement-rate equations, and so on. The committee does not mean to discourage continuing research in these areas but wishes to encourage the new MS&A challenges where no satisfactory base currently exists.


As noted in Chapter 1, the NSF recently published a report of two workshops on simulation-based engineering science that examined the role of MS&A for U.S. science and engineering, including medicine, materials, and other scientific disciplines. While that report touched on defense applications, it did not bring out the three central themes of the current report—network-centricity, complex adaptive systems, and embedded systems.

The NSF report did, however, identify many of the same issues facing engineering MS&A as does this report, and there are some similarities in the recommendations as well. In particular, the NSF workshops and this committee have some similar conclusions:

  • NSF. “Formidable obstacles remain in linking highly disparate length and time scales….” The committee expressed DoD’s necessity for overcoming these obstacles in Chapter 3 in the subsection “Multiresolution Modeling and Families of Models and Games” and proposed solutions in the section “Composability.”

  • NSF. “Verification, validation, and uncertainty quantification are challenging and necessary research areas that must be actively pursued.” The committee comes to the same conclusion for DoD, with a different emphasis, in “Expanded Concepts of Validation” in Chapter 3 and “Addressing Uncertainties” in Chapter 4.

  • NSF. “Research is needed to effectively use and integrate data-intensive computing systems, ubiquitous sensors and high-resolution detectors, imaging devices, and other data-gathering storage and distribution devices, and to develop methodologies and theoretical frameworks for their integration into simulation systems.” The subsection “Improved Data Collection for MS&A” in Chapter 3 of this report examines this issue in detail, and the section “Building the Scientific Base for Embedded MS&A,” also in Chapter 3, discusses the integration of real-time data into embedded systems.

  • NSF. “Computer visualization will be integral to our ability to interpret and utilize large data sets….” This agrees with the committee’s finding, expressed in “Visualization of High-Dimensional Data” in Chapter 3.

  • NSF. “Meaningful advances in simulation based engineering science will require dramatic changes in science and engineering education.” The committee discusses this topic at length in Chapter 5, with a focus on changes needed in the defense environment.

The similarities between the NSF’s assessment of MS&A

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