Simulation models are becoming unique repositories of knowledge about complex systems. As such, models must be carefully specified, fully documented, and designed to be evolvable as knowledge about the system or phenomenon being modeled is gained.
Simulation models are increasingly becoming an important mechanism by which knowledge is communicated and passed on.
In the future, simulation exercises will become a major vehicle through which the intuition and insight of military officers about combat will be developed and enriched. Consequently, it is of great importance that those models convey reality as much as possible.
Well-developed, well-documented, and well-calibrated models and simulations can be used in many studies. When such models are reused, a wide audience receives training on them, improvements to the models can be suggested, and an evolutionary process can be established through which those models can be continually improved.
Modeling and simulation is already playing the role of being a repository of insight. For example, when a new analyst begins work in an organization, it is often the case that his or her education is centered on “learning the model.” The organization's principal model is the frame of reference for discussion and tasking. Even though the analyst may be told the aspects in the model are realistic and unrealistic, the model as a whole is frequently at the core of his or her work. In such a case, it is important to institute an improvement process within which the model can continually evolve and be upgraded.
Models, then, are far more than tools. Appropriate models can represent and communicate our knowledge. Inappropriate models (or use of models) can distort situation assessment and choices of alternative courses of action, whether it be in the choice of weapons systems or the choice of operational strategies and tactics in the midst of war. Successful military operations are increasingly dependent upon the use of sound, well-documented models. Moreover, the advent of distributed simulation and the evolving character of DOD command and control systems serve as additional reasons why users of models will often not be part of the same organization that developed them. These trends put a far greater onus on the model or simulation developer, namely, in distributed-simulation applications (and in the future world of M&S in which frequent use is made of repositories), models and simulations must be increasingly well developed and well documented and must be constructed so that they can be reused across studies and improved as the needs arise.
The potential of M&S for impact on the Department of the Navy, both good or bad, will increase greatly over the next 30 years. The Department of the Navy should have a great interest in capturing the potential benefits while avoiding the many potential problems, but this will not happen without focused institutional attention and some significant changes in current policies toward M&S. For