Marines inaugurate new war games center

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va .– The Marine Corps has innovated here on what it plans to be a state-of-the-art war games center, to lead wartime combat experiences and draw feedback from across the fleet for continuously refine the way the Marines fight.

Lt. Gen. Eric Smith told the audience the $ 79 million center will help get resources, whether it’s equipment or new tactics, to Marines on the ground faster.

“It’s a big deal for these 19-year-olds here, for those on Parris Island or San Diego, because they fight and die,” Smith said. “We’re going to make sure they’re doing less of the dying part by what we’re doing here.”

The three-star told the Marine Corps Times at the event that the combination of expert analysis and advanced modeling and simulation in one place operating at a classified level provides a more starting point. precise.

“It’s like we’re in brackets,” Smith said. “We’re not saying, how far away is the target? We’re saying the target is between 4,000 and 4,500 yards… that’s what this center does.

Bracketing is a technique often used with indirect fire such as mortars or artillery guns to determine the distance to a target. A shooter will fire the projectile both before and after the target, then know the distance the target is – between the two shots.

The Marine Corps Wargaming and Analysis Center is slated to open in the summer of 2023. The site is located adjacent to the University of the Marine Corps, which is attended by the mid-career office and the main office and enlisted Marines.

This proximity means that planners can bring in Marines from the fleet to participate in planning or experiments and provide feedback.

The center gives planners a way to go through everything from equipment strengths and weaknesses to comprehensive campaign plans using existing capabilities and tactics or mid and long term anticipation capabilities.

“An opponent has ‘X’ and I want to beat him,” Smith said. “Let’s try this. We can do it by an artificial intelligence algorithm, with the right people here we can do it hundreds of times per minute and generate countless results.

The job could be as simple as pitting one weapon system against another, for example if that particular fighter jet would prevail against a similar enemy plane, given the data available.

The center will coordinate directly with the commanders general of major bases such as Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Camp Pendleton, California; Okinawa, Japan; and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

For example, the head of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, who will call the visitor center, can browse experimental models and then contact units to perform new methods in a field environment.

The commanding officer of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab or other planners might ask them to conduct the experiment with a particular size unit at a certain distance. Then, while the simulation may have worked, Marines on the ground might discover details that weren’t factored in or came to light in the process.

This then carries over to the next iteration.

Brig. Gen. Benjamin Watson, commanding officer of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, told the Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement that as the Corps works on the development of concepts, experiments and exercises in the fleet, both positive and negative feedback will be sent to war game center.

“Young Marines will see the benefit of expanded comment channels,” Watson said. “Ultimately, this will allow the Marine Corps to iteratively learn and continually improve our organizational and capability investment decisions, ensuring that our plans and investments don’t just look good on paper, but are underpinned by war games and rigorous analysis. “

Brig. General AJ Pasagian, chief of Marine Corps Systems Command, told the Marine Corps Times at the event that the same is true for the equipment.

“(The center) will really inform us about how we train on a large-scale exercise,” Pasagian said.

When the center was first announced by former commanding general Robert Neller in 2017, the chief general painted a startling picture of what the center could deliver.

“What I’m looking for is a simulation where a battalion or squadron commander or a regiment or group commander or a division, a squadron or an MEF [Marine Expeditionary Force] or a corps commander can come in and not have to send thousands of people into battlespace and into the air and force them to do a rehearsal, ”Neller said in 2017.

As plans progressed and funding was secured, the Marines searched for tools for the building, asking the industry for locations on an IBM Watson-like machine or software in late 2018 that would help conduct complex war games that the center plans to run.

The data that such a system would provide and the variety of possible scenarios could then give Marine planners numbers that would help learn the odds of victory, expectation of casualties, and the logistics required for an individual mission or operation.

Todd South has written on crime, courts, government and the military for several publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-authored project on witness intimidation. Todd is a veteran of the Iraq War Marines.