Joint Modelling & Simulation: An Action Plan for Defence Services

Joint Modelling & Simulation: An Action Plan for Defence Services



An overall modelling and simulation architecture is necessary for the Army to develop an effective course of action

Operations Research and Systems Analysis (ORSA) are the two related methods of logically attempting to solve complex problems having a quantitative analytical component. ORSA had its beginnings in the Second World War and was further developed in detail by American practitioners. While Operations Research has a significant mathematical component, Systems Analysis attempts to embed the analysis in a real world setting and thus incorporates principles that go well beyond straightforward operations research. These, and other problem solving techniques, attempt to create a model of the real world and then attempt to simulate the response of the model to external inputs. The complexity of the model and the extent or ranges of variations by which the inputs are varied during simulation depend on the specific solution being sought. It is easy to see that this process is the basis of any analysis that is attempted, whether explicitly or intuitively. Thus, modelling and simulation is the modern term for the range of activities covered under ORSA.

Net Assessment attempts to go beyond the mostly ‘rational’ approach of ORSA and account for the personal and psychological factors driving the leadership of opposing sides, the cultural context and the relationship between competing organisational structures on the same side of a competitive relationship. Thus, net assessment is not mutually exclusive with ORSA but only attempts to incorporate certain factors into the analysis that were traditionally ignored by ORSA. Therefore, modelling and simulation is the broadest term that includes operations research, systems analysis and net assessment; each of the methods having its own relevance at various levels.

Operations research techniques are useful in situations where the factors affecting the outcomes are clearly known, and the relationship between the outputs and the inputs is amenable to mathematical modelling. Thus, it is suitable for study of complex real world problems with many variables and outputs that need to be optimised for particular goals. Examples could be the requirement of ships, aircraft, trains and vehicles to mobilise a particular force from one set of locations to another, while meeting specific constraints of resources, routes, timings, speed or varied combinations of these. Systems analysis would use the possible options generated using the operational research techniques to examine whether the mobilisation requirements be modified or the constraints of resources, funds or timings be changed in order to meet the objectives for which such mobilisation would be ordered. Thus, systems analysis would examine the very context in which the problem is set in order to arrive at a recommended course of action. The level and scope of the application of systems analysis is thus greater than that of operations research. Net assessment in the same context would examine when and why an opponent would order such a mobilisation and the factors that would come into play at the organisational or political levels. It would then be possible to devise a competitive strategy that would play upon those factors in a manner that the adversary would not be able to adopt the most effective course of action.

As seen above, there is a continuum of techniques and applications from operations research to net assessment that spans the complete range of defence decision-making. Broadly speaking, modelling and simulation may be applied at the tactical, operational or strategic levels to meet the functional requirements of training, operational planning, force structuring to include force development and strategy formulation. For any of these applications, the following are essential:-

  • Knowledge of techniques and methodologies.
  • Authoritative policy framework for use of modelling and simulation in decision making.
  • Modelling and simulation systems that permit the application of approved methodologies on a continuous basis.
  • The ability and willingness of decision- makers to state clearly the objectives to be achieved when making decisions.
  • A system for collection of data with the required details and resolution to be useful as inputs to the modelling and simulation systems.

Modelling and simulation for defence

In the defence services, the Army introduced the subject in the 90s by setting up the ORSA section, initially under the VCOAS, which was subsequently moved to the Perspective Planning Directorate. In the application domain of force structuring and force development, the section developed a system for comparative assessment of the combat potential of India with Pakistan and China that it updates on a regular basis. In the application domain of acquisition, it has been involved in analysing the system/ platform options in a number of cases, one of the recent examples being the replacement helicopters for Army Aviation. In the application domain of operational planning, it has produced a proof of concept for a Campaign Planning System that has been validated in Southern Command and is awaiting a decision on the future course of action. The application domain of training is handled by the ARTRAC through the Simulator Apex Committee and the functioning of WARDEC under the control of the Wargaming Section in HQ ARTRAC. All these activities are carried out without an overall army policy on modelling and simulation. It is understood that the army has started work on an overall modelling and simulation architecture.

In the Navy and Air Force, there is no dedicated organisation for modelling and simulation, the issues being handled by either the operations or planning staffs. Similar to the Indian Army, the training application domain is represented through the use of semi-automated war games run at the respective war colleges. A comprehensive Service level modelling and simulation policy also does not exist.

In HQ IDS itself, an ORSA section and a Net Assessment section were conceived right at the outset. Due to lack of an integrated modelling and simulation policy for the armed forces, the ORSA section was converted into an ORSA and Technology (ORSAT) section. The Net Assessment section that should have been a key player in strategy formulation at the national level has also not been utilised in the manner warranted. Further, the two sections operate more or less independently, essentially because of the existing organisational structure and stove piping.

The DRDO has two main labs/establishments dealing with modelling and simulation. The Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR) is focussed on technical issues and structured representation of data. It is involved with Tactical C3I systems. The Institute for System Studies and Analyses (ISSA) has been involved in the development of automated war games for all the services. Both the institutions have limited product development capability at the software level, for which they have to engage commercial software developers. They are also hamstrung by the non-availability of well developed modelling and simulation platforms that they can study, reverse engineer and enhance. Their contributions to the armed forces modelling and simulation capabilities have been plagued by slow product development and poor user involvement and the developed products have not found enthusiastic user acceptance.


Charter for joint modelling and simulation
In line with the charter of HQ IDS, the overall charter of joint modelling and simulation has to be to improve the decision- making in the services, with emphasis on joint decision-making. Logically, active involvement of the HQ IDS modelling and simulation components will be the highest at the strategic decision making level. Since a host of force development issues, particularly allocation of resources, have an element of competition between the Services (and even HQ IDS itself), this application domain will also have a high level of involvement. The operational requirements driving force development arise from the process of operational planning, which is presently carried out mostly at the individual service level. This has obvious drawbacks and HQ IDS would need to proactively encourage joint operational planning in order to be able to mediate in the force development application domain. The application domain of training is essentially of interest to individual services, except at the strategic level. HQ IDS also has interests in the tactical levels of joint training in as much as it pertains to joint operations. Finally, modelling and simulation systems and capabilities are expensive to acquire and HQ IDS should be able to play a role in ensuring that joint capabilities are developed to the extent possible.

In order to meet the desirable charter above, the following would have to be achieved:

  • The development of a Joint Modelling and Simulation Policy Framework that would cover objectives, organisations, responsibilities and resource allocation. The practical manifestation would be through a joint committee system akin to that for intelligence, operations, personnel, logistics or training. A common policy framework would provide the necessary momentum to enhancing the defence services modelling and simulation capabilities as well as necessary synergy between the efforts of individual Services.
  • Enhancement of modelling and simulation awareness at the tactical, operational and strategic levels and the development of capabilities of net assessment and system analysis.
  • The development of automated force development and campaign planning systems for the Services. Introduction of joint systems is preferable for reasons of cost effectiveness as well as integration. The introduction and use of such systems would of course be authorised through the overall policy framework that would be developed. Decisions would have to be taken on whether such systems should be developed entirely indigenously (the practice till now, with unsatisfactory results), imported (most systems are of US origin, although some countries have their own modified versions) or through technology transfer (choice of countries/vendors is limited).
  • Modifications to the way data pertaining to each of the application domains is currently handled. Changes would have to be made to ensure that the decision- making systems are supplied with the relevant inputs. The actual requirements would emerge only when the introduction of the systems is attempted.


An action plan
The starting point of making progress on developing the modelling and simulation capabilities of the defence services is to become aware of the potential of the possible systems that could be fielded, the shortcomings in the present system and the scope for synergy in the current activities. In the absence of widespread knowledge of the issues involved, such an exploration can only be done by a group of committed officers having both exposure to existing practices and the potential of the desired systems. In order to achieve this, the following first step is proposed:

  • Conduct of a short training programme of approximately two weeks on the scope of modelling and simulation in the Defence Services. The attendance should be by Colonels/ Brigadiers who would influence decision making on the development of the relevant capabilities. Officers with a track record of earlier engagement in this field (including those from DRDO) may be nominated/ invited as students/ instructors on an individual basis. CDM could be the preferred host for such a training programme.
  • Conduct of a national seminar on Defence Modelling and Simulation under the aegis of HQ IDS. The actual task could again be given to CDM/other suitable institute with capacities to undertake such programme. The purpose of the seminar would be to build understanding of the current defence modelling and simulation capabilities in the country and future system requirements. The participants would be the officers from the training programme above as well as the senior leadership from the Services, DRDO and software industry (those with interests in defence applications). The seminar would also have a workshop session where focussed groups would attempt to come out with an architecture and roadmap for defence modelling and simulation. While the above step is playing out, preliminary action should be initiated on the following:
  • Exploration of international modelling and simulation products and systems with a view to ascertaining the desirable characteristics of similar systems to be developed by us. Since most international products are of US origin, this could also be an important component of defence cooperation with the US (or possibly the UK and Australia who have access to US systems). Systems of interest at the tactical level could be JANUS (in use throughout NATO and many NATO allies) and the Joint Conflict and Tactical Simulation (JCATS). At the operational level, systems of interest could be the Joint Theatre Level Simulation (JTLS, a campaign level training system, also acquired by Pakistan) and the Extended Air Defence Simulation (EADSIM). At the strategic level, systems of interest could be the Joint Warfare System (JWARS, under development by the US) and the RAND Strategic Assessment System (RSAS).
  • Incorporation of the Systems Analysis requirement in all acquisition cases. This would be designed to provide a cost and effective analysis of competing options and could make the decision making much more transparent. The requirement may not initially be included in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) for want of capabilities and confidence as well as the likelihood of it being hijacked by other agencies. It could be introduced as a requirement under the authority of the COSC in order to institutionalise modelling and simulation in the acquisition cycle.
  • Integration of the ORSA and Net Assessment activities within HQ IDS. Since modelling and simulation is relevant to all activities of HQ IDS (as also the Services), it may be appropriate to place the integrated component directly under the CISC.

The above analysis and suggested road map is meant to enable a quick review of the existing joint modelling and simulation capabilities as well as to make early progress in integrating and enhancing those capabilities. Enhancing awareness is the most basic component of the early actions in this regard. Imbuing existing organisations with authority and a meaningful charter will result in development of an effective course of action.