Military Simulations

The Power of Using Operational-Strategic Simulations in the Study of Military History

Physics is sometimes described as ‘creating mathematical models of the real world’. In a similar fashion military simulations can be defined a ‘creating mathematical models of the military world’. Physics uses mathematical models to predict the most probable outcomes in the physical universe (our real world), while military simulations use mathematical models to predict the most probable outcomes in historical and future battles and campaigns. Today military simulations are one of the most powerful and sophisticated tools available to serving officers for training, and the assessment of the probable outcome of complex military operations.

The term ‘war game’ is popularly used to describe even the most sophisticated military simulation. Essentially a war game is a military simulation with humans used to control key elements of a force’s command and control. The level at which the human decision maker is introduced into the simulation depends on the particular simulation design and its objectives.

The predominant feature that decides how a war game is categorised is the space and time scale used by the units involved. Military simulations, or war games, are normally categorised as

  • Tactical level.
  • Tactical-operational level.
  • Operational level.
  • Strategic level.

In most military simulations the human decision maker controls the forces at a particular level, while the other levels are generally simulated by the mechanisms within the military simulation. Larger and more sophisticated military simulations enable human command and control at multiple levels. Consequently in some sophisticated war games the simulation is only used for recreating the physical environment; specifically simulating factors such as the physics of the weapons involved, the various communication infrastructures, and the force’s logistics. In this case all decisions (on both sides) are made by human interaction and no tactical, operational or strategic decisions are made by the simulation’s programming.

The Evolution of Military Simulations and War Gaming
(PDF File, Adobe Reader 3 or higher, 4 pages)

The Power of Military Simulations in the Study of Military History
( PDF File, 3 pages)

The Difference between Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis
(PDF File, 3 pages)

Tactical, Tactical-Operational, Operational and Strategic Military Simulations
(PDF File, 6 pages)