Engaging the Phalanx

The Military Operations Research Society (MORS) publishes a periodical journal called the Phalanx. In the December 2018 issue was an article that referenced one of our blog posts. This took us by surprise. We only found out about thanks to one of the viewers of this blog. We are not members of MORS. The article is paywalled and cannot be easily accessed if you are not a member.

It is titled “Perspectives on Combat Modeling” (page 28) and is written by Jonathan K. Alt, U.S. Army TRADOC Analysis Center, Monterey, CA.; Christopher Morey, PhD, Training and Doctrine Command Analysis Center, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas; and Larry Larimer, Training and Doctrine Command Analysis Center, White Sands, New Mexico. I am not familiar with any of these three gentlemen.

The blog post that appears to be generating this article is this one:

Wargaming Multi-Domain Battle: The Base Of Sand Problem

Simply by coincidence, Shawn Woodford recently re-posted this in January. It was originally published on 10 April 2017 and was written by Shawn.

The opening two sentences of the article in the Phalanx reads:

Periodically, within the Department of Defense (DoD) analytic community, questions will arise regarding the validity of the combat models and simulations used to support analysis. Many attempts (sic) to resurrect the argument that models, simulations, and wargames “are built on the thin foundation of empirical knowledge about the phenomenon of combat.” (Woodford, 2017).

It is nice to be acknowledged, although it this case, it appears that we are being acknowledged because they disagree with what we are saying.

Probably the word that gets my attention is “resurrect.” It is an interesting word, that implies that this is an old argument that has somehow or the other been put to bed. Granted it is an old argument. On the other hand, it has not been put to bed. If a problem has been identified and not corrected, then it is still a problem. Age has nothing to do with it.

On the other hand, maybe they are using the word “resurrect” because recent developments in modeling and validation have changed the environment significantly enough that these arguments no longer apply. If so, I would be interested in what those changes are. The last time I checked, the modeling and simulation industry was using many of the same models they had used for decades. In some cases, were going back to using simpler hex-games for their modeling and wargaming efforts. We have blogged a couple of times about these efforts. So, in the world of modeling, unless there have been earthshaking and universal changes made in the last five years that have completely revamped the landscape….then the decades old problems still apply to the decades old models and simulations.

More to come (this is the first of at least 7 posts on this subject).

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
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Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
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His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
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Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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One comment

  1. A good statement of the problem. Data Quality is a fundamental issue in Data Science and AI. It needs to be brought out, and rectified examined before professional war-gaming can advance.

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