Support: An Unwanted Outbreak Of Resourcefulness


June 27, 2012: The U.S. Army got a little too successful developing wargames (simulations) for its commanders and staffs. These large scale and expensive (costing several hundred million dollars to create and millions of dollars a year to run) sims (such as Warsim) provided very realistic, but very expensive, training for senior commanders and hundreds of staff specialists who would also be involved in crises situations. As the army faces large budget cuts, the bean counters could not help but notice that some of these simulation operations were idle much of the time. Making the most of a dire situation, the army is shutting down some of the expensive, but infrequently used, sims and depending on obtaining use of the sim via remote connections. The users don't notice much difference, except perhaps an occasional small communications delay. But the army realizes a big cost savings.

Meanwhile, all facilities have use of a new, simpler, simulation called ALOTT (Army Low Overhead Training Toolkit), which does not require expensive specialists to operate. Not as realistic as the high-end stuff but adequate for most training needs. You can run ALOTT with local computer techs. Since the army is likely to cut the budget for ALOTT, local users are going to be on their own here as well. For stuff like Warsim you plug in (starting next year) to the GSC (Global Simulation Capability) network, after first making an appointment ,of course.

The reality is that the troops will respond to these cutbacks by improvising. There are going to be more locally created sims. For decades resourceful troops have been creating wargames for local needs. The army bureaucracy will resist this latest outbreak of resourcefulness, but local commanders will, as they have done in the past, let it happen. In addition, some local commanders will take advantage of small civilian developers who have long created and sustained markets for commercial combat simulations. Again, this is nothing new but these secondary sources are going to be more heavily used. An additional benefit is that it has become easier to create more complex simulations, and this will grow and evolve to create replacements for the Department of Defense developed sims the army can no longer afford to build, maintain, or use.



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