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News | June 7, 2017

DORRA supports Joint Staff war game: AGILE 17

By Air Force Capt. Raymond Hill, DLA Operations Research and Resource Analysis

For hundreds of years, military leaders have used war games to test and develop strategies for responding to future scenarios. This has given decisionmakers in real crises much more information as they decide how to respond during humanitarian disasters or in wartime.

The Defense Logistics Agency’s Office of Operations Research and Resource Analysis recently supported just such a war game. Advancing Globally Integrated Logistics Effort 17, a humanitarian assistance/disaster relief war game, was May 8 -12 at Lockheed-Martin’s Center for Innovation in Suffolk, Virginia. The event is hosted by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for logistics.

When faced with a disaster, the United States strives to provide humanitarian assistance as quickly and effectively as possible. Instead of waiting for the next disaster, the military uses war gaming to test systems and strategies in a safe and realistic environment. Joining the U.S. forces are supporting countries, nongovernmental organizations, and multilateral organizations like the World Food Program. The outcomes are verified and help improve processes to save lives and reduce waste.

AGILE 17 sought to test the ability of the joint logistics enterprise to meet logistics demands during multiple crises in a contested environment spanning more than one region. In the scenario, an earthquake struck Southern California during overseas combat operations to support a regime change. The game play for these two scenarios was run by the Center for Naval Analysis. DORRA provided technical and analytical support.

Additionally, DORRA worked alongside Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the CNA to help plan this event, create rules for the game and determine how players would interact. Johns Hopkins supported the event with a map of global resource constraints, tracking resource scarcity for both scenarios. The DORRA team bridged the information gap and provided the information to the decisionmaker, to make the game as realistic as possible.

Due to the game’s complexity, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for logistics asked DORRA to participate in the scenario outside the continental United States. DORRA has a team of war game analysts and a recently developed tool for automatically tracking logistics capabilities. These tools tracked all movements within the game and modeled realistic logistics constraints, such as road and port capacities and other transportation availability. 

Additionally, DORRA integrated the game data into the game’s information and communication processes to support realistic decisionmaking. DORRA also served as the game’s authoritative data source and recorded all game movements for post-game analysis.

Over 160 representatives from nine allied nations participated in the event, along with industry partners, nongovernmental organizations, and multilateral organizations.

War gaming provides leaders the opportunity to make decisions outside normal operations. It requires them to think strategically about logistics requirements when engaging an adversary or supporting humanitarian relief.

DORRA supports the game by making the decision environment as realistic as possible and is continually expanding its capabilities. For DLA’s European Command War game 2016, team members Tim Walker and David Bedford created a digital tool for tracking war game logistics, the Basic Exercise Demand Forecast Operations Recording Database.

BEDFORD allows more realistic play by providing the real-time information decisionmakers have in actual events. For example, BEDFORD ensures all airports, sea ports, and road networks do not exceed total capacity or other limits. The tool provides an opportunity to practice and assess the complex communication and information sharing involved in contingency operations and provides insight into the logistic support necessary to support DLA’s operational plans.

DORRA members attending included Air Force Capt. Raymond Hill, war gaming program manager, and operations research analysts David Jones, Teri Bennet, Allen Smith, Duncan Hardcastle and Jim Sandlin, in addition to Walker and Bedford.

Other representatives from DLA headquarters were James Neice, DLA logistics planner for U.S. Northern Command; Sabrina Viruet, DLA commodities management specialist; Christopher Stephens, DLA logistics program analyst; Ken Murphy, fuels planner for DLA Energy; and Army Maj. Daniel Eusebio, joint planner for DLA Pacific.

“It’s great to see the joint logistics enterprise, including other nations and industry, come together as a team and figure out a unified response to these scenarios,” Jones said.

“This game environment was designed to test the communication and resources of the joint logistics enterprise. The different classification levels in the game reflect real-world communication issues between different organizations outside of the U.S. government,” he added.