Definitions – the importance of achieving a common understanding ← Back to Case Studies index
Apparently obvious, achieving a common understanding is not always as easy as it might first appear. Talking the same language is an important first step in any project related to wargaming. This was exactly what we suggested on becoming involved in the NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT) Shared Scenarios Project. The resulting set of key definitions were a major contributor to the success of the Project and the establishment of a NATO portal via which scenario material can be used and re-used by NATO and national exercise designers and across the modelling & simulation industry.
Although people think they are talking the same language, our observations showed that they don’t. This often results in them talking at cross-purposes and thinking that they have agreed something when they haven’t!
One example: the term ‘scenario’. Anyone from the US Joint Force Command (JFCOM) referring to ‘scenario’ is talking about the entities that constitute the force elements in a simulation; essentially all components of the order of battle (ORBAT) of friendly, enemy (Situational Forces or SITFOR) and neutral forces. This might include equipment, ammunition, characteristics etc, their relationships and so forth. This information is usually held in one or more data bases. On the other hand, personnel from NATO’s Allied Command Operations (ACO) and Joint Warfare Centre define ‘scenario’ as ‘the background story that describes the historical, political, military, economic, cultural, humanitarian and legal events and circumstances that have led to the specific current exercise crisis or conflict’. These are completely different things. So what do you think people from these respective organisations would think is meant by ‘Rapid Scenario Generation’? To someone from US JFCOM it will concern the timely exchange of ORBAT- and SITFOR related data; to someone from NATO it will concern the correct identification of the required elements of a scenario and the efficient production of scenario – a process measured in years.
Some key terms, and their definitions, identified as part of the NATO Shared Scenarios Project were:
Setting: ‘A geographic and strategic situation designed to provide all the conditions required to support the achievement of high level exercise aims and objectives. The setting, which can be real world, fictionalised or synthetic, is the framework on which the scenario can be developed.’
Scenario: ‘The background story that describes the historical, political, military, economic, cultural, humanitarian and legal events and circumstances that have led to the specific current exercise crisis or conflict. The scenario is designed to support exercise and training objectives and, like the setting, can be real, fictionalised or synthetic as is appropriate. A scenario will be composed of specific modules, event and inject serials and technical data essential to the accomplishment of the exercise objectives or of the seminar/academic/experiment objectives.’
Data Repository: ‘A logical (and sometimes physical) partitioning of data where multiple databases or data that apply to specific applications or sets of applications reside’.
Data Warehouse: ‘A facility for the storage of an organisation’s electronic data structured to facilitate active querying, manipulating, reporting and analysis. How the stored data is structured has nothing to do with whether something is a data warehouse’.
Library: ‘The portal through which the catalogue of material stored in a data warehouse can be viewed. The methods by which data is accessed are explained in the library, but the process of gaining permission to access the data is a separate function.’
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