dramatic progress, which will assuredly continue because of commercial developments and DMSO efforts.

Inadequate Knowledge Base

In contrast, there has been curiously little investment in the knowledge base determining the substantive content and quality of much M&S—particularly higher-level M&S needed for mission- and campaign-level work. It is an open secret and a point of distress to many in the community that too much of the substantive content of such M&S has its origin in anecdote, the infamous BOGSAT (bunch of guys sitting around a table), or a narrow construction tied to stereotypical current practices of “doctrinally correct behavior.” There is a need for focused research on the phenomena of combat and other military activities, both historical and prospective. This is the realm of military science.

Another shortfall in knowledge relates to theories and methods for conceiving, designing, and building models (as distinct from software). Symptoms of the problem are evident if one observes that DOD's M&S often consists of nothing more than the computer code itself: there is no separable documented “model” to be reviewed and improved, nor any way to readily understand the assumptions generating the simulation 's behavior. This can hardly be a comfortable basis for decision support.


The inherent complexity of the systems and force operations that DOD is attempting to simulate introduces new difficulties ( Appendix B ). Throughout its efforts, the panel was concerned by the degree to which many forecasts are extrapolating unreasonably from the Boeing 777 experience and from M&S successes in lower-echelon training to imagined systems of extraordinary complexity. Generally speaking, the types of complexity being considered break into three distinct, but not wholly unrelated cases:

  • Localized systems. These are systems that are highly complex, but are designed from inception as one system. Examples could be an aircraft or a ship, as well as a very large scale integrated circuit.

  • Systems of systems. These are distributed (typically information) systems for which the final overall configuration is not known during design of the individual components. In fact, overall system configuration often varies depending on the particular application or circumstances.

  • Combat operations. Here the complexity is due to the interaction of multiple combat systems and forces with one another and with the physical environment in which they are operating.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement