Simulations and Strategy Development

SIMULEX 2013                       


1) Provide “an operating model of reality,” drastically reduced in scope and limited in time; 

2) Allow participants to play roles as decision-makers and to experience the problems and processes of managing a crisis or resolving a conflict;

3) Provide an academic opportunity which would not normally be available unless you are a crisis decision-maker.

SIMULEX is designed to illuminate and examine decision-making in crisis situations. Despite the fact that the “real world” of international behavior is missing, there is still intense personal involvement in developing the decisions and actions called for within the time limits imposed by the scenario. There is an opportunity to observe the processes of situation-definition, information-search, risk-taking, group compromise, and policy formulation. Simulation is useful for learning about the policy planning process. Simulation can demonstrate the importance of communications and the potential for misperception as well as the incomplete and imperfect nature of available information on which important crisis decisions must be made because of time constraints. Simulation can also sensitize players to the potential for surprise and the need to cope with unanticipated situations. Simulation also offers a great opportunity to learn about the broader context of the scenario, including culture, history, economies, politics, and the various actors who are part of the scenario.

In SIMULEX we have several objectives:


●    To gain a greater appreciation of factors underlying national goals, strategies, policies, and to understand options in the presence of a threat to security

●    To achieve an awareness of internal and external pressures, relationships, and obstacles in crisis decision-making: i.e., performing under stress

●    To experience some of the problems and constraints confronting real world decision-makers in allocating resources to translate national goals into specific policies and courses of action

●    To learn about the advantages and limitations of simulation as a learning tool

On Gaming

Simulation exercises have been widely and successfully used in the military, civilian government, academic, and even the business communities for many years. They have been proven to offer opportunities for policymakers to:

●    Pool collective expertise

●    Help to clarify ill-defined problems

●    Combine widely disparate military, political, economic, and ideological factors and approaches

●    Expose players to diverse perspectives, opinions, and options

●    Identify and anticipate future problems and opportunities

●    Promote greater interaction among policymakers, enabling them possibly to work more closely with each other in a real world crisis

The team will first organize itself as a crisis decision-making unit. Specifically, roles should be assigned to members – foreign minister, defense minister, etc.

Framing Simulation Strategy

After organizing itself as a crisis decision-making unit, the team has the immediate task of framing strategy to cope with the crisis. The essential steps are as follows:

1.   Identify the problem, including the threat and the vital or major interests at risk. What do you know about the threat and what do you not know that you need to find out more about? (The known knowns, the known unknowns.)

2.   Set forth your goals, including immediate as well as longer term. How will achieving immediate goals affect the longer term goals? How do you want to come out of the crisis?

3.   As you do the above, include what you know (or need to know) about the enemy’s interests and goals.

4.   What are the capabilities (including military and non-military) that you presently have available or mobilizable in time to shape the outcome of the crisis?

5.   What additional capabilities are needed and how can you get them? How quickly? Allies/coalition partners?

6.   What do you know (or need to know) about the enemy’s capabilities?

7.   What are the major alternative strategies to achieve your goals? What do you know (or need to know) about the enemy’s strategy or basic strategic options?

8.   From the foregoing, set forth succinctly a strategy that does the following:

●    States what your interests are

●    Sets forth your goals

●    Mobilizes your capabilities

●    Prioritizes action to be taken

●    Makes decisions to implement strategy

●    Communicates decisions to those who can implement them

Your strategy should be updated as SIMULEX proceeds.