Modeling & Simulation

15 May 2006

Modeling and Simulation (M&S) in defence procurement is not new. In 2500 BC, the Sumerians were using models of warriors. In 210 BC, Archimedes was modeling cranes that lifted enemy ships out of the water and dashed them against the rocks; catapults of every size and description that hurled bolts and stones varying distances; and mirrors that focused sunlight on warships to set them on fire. Fast forward to today’s world where, through the use of simulators, pilots began “flying” the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft before it was built, and Canadian Forces planners use M&S to assess the new urban ­operations training village in Wainwright before a single stone was laid.

The underlying methodology of M&S has not changed in the past 45 centuries. First, some physical, mathematical, or otherwise logical representation of an entity, system, or process is created (the model), and then it is implemented (the simulation). However, M&S tools and applications have changed dramatically over the centuries, with some major breakthroughs along the way. For example, in 1765, Fredric Henrik af Chapman, a Swedish naval ship architect, mathematically modeled the stability of ship design, allowing shipbuilders to know in advance whether their ships would float upright or not. Prior to this, ships were designed on a trial and error basis, and some very large warships simply ­capsized and sunk, with great loss of life and armament.

During World War II, using new operational research techniques, British scientists modeled the operations of the complete air defence system of radar, aircraft, equipment, people, and environmental conditions (e.g. weather, daylight); used simulation to improve upon its effectiveness; and directly contributed to the winning of the Battle of Britain, a battle that was fought against a technologically and numerically superior air force.

Pilot "flies" the JSF Flight Simulator. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

Transformation Enabler
We are in the midst of another great breakthrough in M&S – a technological revolution facilitated by the emergence of very high speed computers that process huge amounts of information in smaller and smaller machines, at an ever decreasing cost.

M&S has become a key military transformation enabler. It is directly contributing to a professional, highly-trained Canadian Armed Forces capable of using new technologies effectively in joint, interagency and multinational operations.

One of the ways it does that is by redefining what DND buys, how we buy it, how we train for using it; how we use it; and how we maintain and upgrade it. It is enabling us to make better decisions while putting capability into place faster and at less cost. Let us illustrate.

Coping with Landmines in Afghanistan
As we are so tragically aware, landmines pose a significant risk to both civilians and militaries around the world. According to the United Nations, there are now over five million landmines in Afghanistan alone, made up of some 70 different types. Canada realized early on that special ­landmine identification and disassembly ­training would be required in order for our forces to operate effectively and with some degree of safety in theatre.

The traditional approach would have been to buy a quantity of each type of mine, distribute them to select operational units and training centres, train the trainers, and then conduct hands-on training. The minimum cost would have been $5 million, not including travel and salaries, and the lead time would have been anywhere from 18 months to 15 years.

The M&S approach was to virtually “model” each type of landmine, and enable “simulated” disarming and disassembly training. The military engineer now had access to a 3D model of each type of mine, and could practice the steps necessary to make it safe.

Land mines such as this one found near the Kandahar airfield, kill more than 100 people every year in Afghanistan alone. (MCpl Danielle Combat Camera)

Responding with Flexility
DND’s Shipboard Electro-Optical Sur­veillance System (SEOSS) project is designed to increase the Navy’s defensive protection against small, fast non-­conventional attacks – a new requirement that is directly related to the rapidly changing nature of terrorist tactics. The project involved adding even more electronic hardware on already crowded ships’ masts and infrastructure. There were two problems. First, a physical ­location had to be found for the new hardware, and second, the new system had to be located in a way that did not electromagnetically interfere with existing equipment.
Putting the new equipment in the wrong place could have the same effect as putting your new credit card in the microwave. It may still look the same, but it certainly doesn’t work very well.

Even in the recent past, there was still a lot of trial and error involved with locating such new electronic equipment, and in many cases either the full potential of the new equipment was not realized, or the capability of existing equipment was compromised – a trial and error situation not unlike shipbuilding before Chapman.

In this case, electromagnetic modeling and simulation concluded that if the system was installed as planned it would not work, and identified an alternate, optimal location. The $50,000 M&S initiative ensured the system would work as expected, resulted in a $500,000 cost avoidance, reduced the in service date by a year, and prevented costly litigation.

Urban Ops Training Village
Today, the Canadian Forces operate within a dynamic and evolving security spectrum, one that is very different from the static model of the Cold War and traditional peacekeeping. To meet the challenges of this new environment, the Army is planning new capabilities for training to fight in urban or built-up areas. Its training ­centre in Wainwright now has a number of “villages” to allow realistic force-on-force and live-fire training. These villages and other facilities simulate the typical physical environment that prevails in the failed and failing states where Army task forces are expected to operate. There are also plans to develop a terraced village, farm compounds, and a cave complex.

The various components of the proposed training village have been modeled, and each component costed. Army planners can now simulate various designs and determine what they will cost, allowing them to prioritize requirements and optimize the funds available.

The Physical Challenge: Find a space high up (DND Photo: HMCS Calgary)

M&S and Procurement
M&S is like globalization. It is here. It is ubiquitous. The issue is how we respond to it – how do we use it to our best advantage? The DND answer is Joint Simulation and Modeling for Acquisition, Requirements, Training, and Support (JSMARTS). This initiative ­recognizes that M&S applies to the entire life cycle of equipment, from concept development and requirements definition all the way through acquisition, in-service support, training and system upgrades and modernizations. DRDC Ottawa has successfully conducted two JSMARTS exercises.

The examples mentioned here, and numerous others like them, are proving that M&S can be used to help us make better decisions early in the process, as in planning for the urban village. It can be a solution unto itself, as in the landmine training case. It can help speed up the delivery of new capability, while at the same time increasing performance and reducing cost, as in the SEOSS project. It is proving to be both a very cost effective procurement reform and transformation enabler.

The Future for M&S
M&S is not a panacea. DND has neither the funds nor the requirement for very large, very expensive models that industry might use, say in the development of major new products or equipment. That said, the use of M&S, in the context of JSMARTS, will likely increase.

To maximize our gain, we have begun to incorporate M&S considerations into our project management and project procurement processes. We are developing an M&S In Acquisition Course, to complement the M&S Staff Officers Course being developed elsewhere in the department. We are working closely with our counterparts throughout the much larger M&S community, including other government departments, industry, academia, and our allies.

M&S is already speeding up procurement, improving training, and enhancing both in service support of equipment and support to operations, while reducing costs. The evidence to date suggests that increased, judicious, targeted investment in M&S will simply multiply these benefits in the future.

Ken Krukewich is with the ADM(Mat) organization responsible for developing and implementing the Joint Simulation and Modeling for Acquisition, Requirements, Training, and Support (JSMARTS) initiative.

Bernie Grover was a member of the US Naval War College Global War Games team for seven years and, as a military operations research systems analyst, conducted extensive modeling and simulation in the area of acquisition and logistics. He is currently a consultant, based in Ottawa.
© FrontLine Defence 2006