WITH the closure of many overseas military bases and the move away from large standing armies and navies, the U.S. military is placing a premium on the use of advanced technology for precision operations that allow U.S. troops to deploy rapidly and win decisively. Lawrence Livermore has a long-standing relationship with the Department of Defense for research and development for advanced defense technologies, and conflict simulation is one area in which we are recognized as among the best in the world. The article entitled Simulating Warfare Is No Video Game describes JCATS (Joint Conflict and Tactical Simulation), the latest advance in decades of effort to create accurate and realistic conflict simulation models.|
JCATS is unique in the breadth and depth of the information it integrates and the variety of conflict situations it can simulate. It offers an unprecedented level of detail, operational complexity, and accuracy of simulation. In describing JCATS, it is easy to be swept into the technical details of the model-entity level, aggregation/deaggregation, 660- by 660-kilometer "playbox," and so forth-and lose sight of its wide range of applications and its potential for truly understanding modern combat operations.
The U.S. military uses JCATS primarily for training individual commanders in battlefield operations and tactics. Training, other than "on the job" in actual combat, is difficult to make realistic. Live exercises, which are themselves simulations, are limited by logistics to a relatively small number of participants, and the need for safety limits the use of real weapons. With JCATS, war games can be set up to simulate combat situations, with teams of officers playing the various forces. As the article describes, these war games are extremely accurate and thus provide directly applicable and credible training.
But the program is also useful for mission planning, assessment of military strategy, evaluation of new or proposed technologies, after-action analysis, and even site security assessment.
For example, military doctrine and strategy developed in the large-scale conflicts of the first half of the century are of questionable applicability to current operations, which focus increasingly on limited-scope engagements and peacekeeping. JCATS can be used by military planners to test new doctrines and strategies. It can also be used to evaluate the utility of new technologies, such as alternatives to antipersonnel land mines, or different applications of existing technologies. Once the program's databases are loaded with the desired information (for example, terrain maps, troops, weaponry), simulations can be run over and over again, changing one set of variables at a time. Because JCATS tracks the action at the level of individual items, after-action analyses are extremely detailed, and statistics can be assembled to provide an accurate systems-level view of the pros and cons of different approaches to military operations.
JCATS is also extremely useful for evaluating and improving physical security. Site security at the national laboratories is receiving considerable attention these days. Just as with military training, live exercises to test physical security are expensive and limited in scope. However, JCATS, with its ability to accurately model individual buildings, obstructed lines of sight, the time required to cut through walls or penetrate barriers, and so forth, is ideally suited to this application. Site security has used the program to evaluate the effectiveness of existing physical defenses and response actions against different threats. After-action analyses and statistics, assembled from a large number of runs, provide a credible basis for decisions to alter response tactics or modify physical security features.
Even as the JCATS developers continue to upgrade the model's capabilities, with improvements seemingly limited solely by imagination and technical creativity, the U.S. military and other users are striving to exploit the program's full potential. As new conflict simulation needs arise in both the defense and civil sectors, users will find that the ideal tool is already sitting on their shelves.