is a need to rebalance the situation by emphasizing that where the objective is to understand the nature of war and other military operations —especially the nature of future war in the information era—the focus should be on research rather than model building per se.

Research Versus Simulation Building

To appreciate the significance of research versus simulation building, consider what often happens when people define the objective as building an M&S. A committee goes about constructing wish lists, which are later translated into an expression of requirements. A request for proposals (RFP) is then issued or the tasking assigned to a government laboratory or federally funded research and development center (FFRDC). A contract is let and work proceeds. But the work is typically construed to be building software. The team might have, for example, a chief modeler/designer, a software designer, several modeler/programmers, and some specialists in graphics, databases, and operating systems. And, because the model will need data, there may be one or several individuals, as well as representatives from sponsors, actively involved in building databases (e.g., for orders of battle, temperature profiles in different portions of the ocean, weapon effectiveness, sortie rates, and so on).

Now, all of this may sound reasonable and industrious, but it is quite different from what would happen if the objective were seen as understanding the subject area, with a model as a possible by-product. In this case, the team might include scientists, engineers, operations researchers at least as interested in phenomenology and conceptual models as programming, historians, and psychologists (e.g., for interviewing experts)—as well as operations-experienced military officers. Results might include learned papers on various aspects of the phenomenology and other papers discussing future doctrinal options. Unfortunately, there might not be any products directly usable by builders of M&S. There might be no rigorous models at all, or they might not “fit” well into the larger scheme of things. 2

Ultimately, what seems to be needed is a synthesis ( Figure 5.1 ). There is a need for research, but that research could be accomplished with the recognition that it will be used to feed the building of M&S, and it could be accomplished with the same common model of the mission space (CMMS) as used by the M&S builders. Further, the M&S designers could base their designs on concepts emerging from the research rather than imposing their own concepts. The result would be an M&S better able to accommodate future research results as well, rather than

2  

As an example of this, there have been a number of interesting historical studies on when and how battles are won and lost, but they have seldom related easily to the simulation models on which DOD depends. Incorporating their insights, much less their data, has been difficult.



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