More with Less and the Value of “Simulation”

Weeds Pic

Robert Wedertz – NST Program Manager, SME

A close friend of mine recently sent to me our Chief of Naval Operations’ “Navigation Plan – 2014-2018”.  It is a vehicle for our Navy to provide “a vision, tenets, and principles to guide our Navy as we chart a course to remain ready to meet current challenges, build a relevant and capable future force, and enable and support our Sailors, Civilians, and their families”.

Not surprisingly, the key constraints in implementing the navigation plan are challenges associated with a Continuing Resolution and the onset of Sequestration.  Warfighting, forward presence, and readiness cost money.  Our military is the better part of 11 years “boots on the deck” in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are redirecting our focus to the Asia-Pacific region, and other parts of the Middle East (Egypt and Syria) are embroiled in pseudo civil wars which may or may not bring about our involvement.  Confronting our nation’s challenges on a shoestring budget, coupled with future uncertainty with respect to out-year budget allocations, has confronted our Department of Defense leadership with a conundrum likely unprecedented.

In order to confront the realities of that uncertainty, the DoD has more and more turned to simulation, but not the traditional kind – like battlefield mock-ups, operational flight trainers, etc.  I am referring to what I call “Course of Action” simulation.  Leveraging software-enabled predictive analytics, advanced modeling algorithms, and customizable simulation programming, the DoD is taking advantage of “sandbox” decision support tools which provide users the ability to run multiple COAs in a zero-risk environment.  For example:

“What if the Operations and Maintenance budget is cut by 5%, 6%, 10%?  How does that affect our warfighting ability?  How does it affect readiness?”

In the simulated environment, users have the ability to “turn the dials” and measure and present the outcomes to those that have the ultimate obligation to make decisions.  In an environment where the only certainty is uncertainty, decision makers are afforded opportunities to investigate distinct outcomes based upon methodical manipulation of inputs, constraints, and scenarios.

This is precisely the type of environment ProModel has created with the Naval Synchronization Toolset.  Our software development team has designed and implemented a customized web-enabled tool which allows its users to build, test, and present courses of action which source Navy Squadrons to Air Wings, and Air Wings to Aircraft Carriers.  The result is a Master Aviation Plan (MAP) which bridges 30 years of sourcing decisions and is “THE” plan for Naval Aviation to support the CNO’s Navigation Plan.  Additionally, we have provided an integrated decision support tool to the FA-18 Class Desk for effectively managing the aircraft inventory well into the future.

The Aircraft Inventory Management (AIM) tool provides the users with the forward-leaning ability to move individual aircraft between squadrons in order to extend the life of legacy FA-18 aircraft (A-D) and proactively manage the current and future compliment of FA-18 E/F aircraft 30 years into the future.

NST is a “sandbox” which allows users to continually refine COA’s in order to support the strategic needs of the Navy while considering constraints imposed by budget uncertainty, unplanned contingency operation demands, and the “rudder” of our Navy’s key stakeholders.  Through harnessing the power of simulation we have provided a decision support tool that is proactive, not reactive, is risk-free, and ultimately provides decision makers a tool to
“navigate by”.

Myself and Mitch Todd (Sr. Software Architect for NST) touring aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in Norfolk VA.

Myself and Mitch Todd (Sr. Software Architect for NST) touring aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in Norfolk VA.

2 thoughts on “More with Less and the Value of “Simulation”

  1. Interesting post, Robert. Can you expand more on the details of your DSS? We have a simulation group that works with the Navy on the “gaming” simulations similar to what you referred to, but we have not been involved with any simulations used in their strategy as you described. I would love to implement something here (Newport News Shipbuilding) that uses Promodel in a strategic DSS like this, so anything you can share would be great.

    • Thanks Marc. To be clear – the Naval Synchronization Toolset is a custom solution that we built specifically for NAVAIR. The platform and engine behind it is very similar to like tools we built for the Army (AST and DST-LMI). With that said, I’d be more than happy to discuss NST with you and offer what details I can. Please contact me at rwedertz@promodel.com.

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