WASHINGTON – Workers at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, see top naval leaders building a state-of-the-art war-gaming center, while war-gaming spreads in full force in many ways.
It is coming for all categories of Marines and billets through small and large exercises, board games and advanced artificial intelligence options that are being adapted for future use at the unit level.
Here are some of the items presented Wednesday by Col. George Schreffler, director of war-gaming at the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab at the 2022 Modern Day Marine Expo in Washington.
If a Marine’s job is touched by Force Design 2030, and that guide document affects all Marine jobs, then there is something war-gaming has to do with how the service made that decision and a possible future decision.
For example, in the recently released 2022 update for forced design, the document states that “Extensive Warfare Gaming” in the form of Expeditionary Warrior 21 introduces the service’s distributed maritime logistics operations concept, which is now being developed with the Navy. That game and another called “Enigma” explored information and concepts for competition operations below the level of armed conflict, also known as “gray zone” operations.
Data is provided in the forthcoming Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 8, “Information”, according to the Force Design Update.
The center will double the number of war games organized by the army in one year by bringing together staff and visiting leaders in one place with advanced technology.
Schreffler said the center would “enhance the realism of the player’s experience” and “significantly increase the data that is able to keep up with the situation”. Only those two factors will enable “more rigorous analysis of war-game outcomes” and deliver “better and potentially more solid insights from war games”.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Center has provided support to Shreffler and others on Force Design and Development to “create more defensive positions to support service level decisions.”
This is important because the Marine Corps leadership has publicly criticized some changes in Force Design 2030, such as the destruction of tanks, the reduction of conventional artillery, and experiments that could fundamentally change the size and design of infantry.
The first center was announced by then-Commandant General Robert Neller at the 2017 Modern Day Marine Exhibition.
Neller said he wanted a kind of “holodek” for marine war-gaming, a recognition of Star Trek technology that led to Captain James T. Kirk allowed the character to step into the realm of virtual reality and work through strategic or tactical issues.
The goal at the time was to have a center that could support 20 war games each year, including two large, 250-participant exercises. Currently, the service runs about a dozen war games each year, officials said.
Former Head of Training Systems Command, then-Colonel. Walt Yates told the Marine Corps Times that an advanced artificial intelligence center could allow a single situation to run 1,000 times to better evaluate the results and make better decisions on what to deploy and how to deploy marine assets.
In May 2021, the Navy laid the foundation stone for a new war-gaming and analysis center. The goal of the $ 79 million center is to explore the difficult issues of what technologies, types of formations and even strategies may work in future battles.
Schreffler said the center is scheduled to open in 2024.
At the time, Marine Corps Assistant Commandant General Eric Smith, who was the three-star heading Combat Development and Integration, gave a solid reason for how the center would be affected, even at the lowest levels.
“It’s a big deal for 19-year-olds here, for people on the island of Paris or in San Diego, because they fight and die,” Smith told the Marine Corps Times. “We’re going to make sure they die less by what we do here.”
The center is adjacent to Marine Corps University and not far from many middle and senior-level Marine Office schools and training programs. Its proximity should allow cross-pollination of ideas from schools for concept testing at the center.
The former head of the War-Fighting Laboratory and Marine Corps System Command had earlier told the Marine Corps Times that the center would help them make decisions with in-depth, evidence-based data, whether it be unit employment, unit design or weapons and equipment development and fielding.
But some of the ideology of the Center has spread in the corps.
“The vision of the Marine Corps Warming and Analysis Center allows us to plug in remotely and play games using the system or systems in the Analysis Center,” Schreffler said.
That software is still in development, he said.
“They should be able to add us to the training and education command and component of the command,” he said.
Todd South has written about crime, the courts, the government and the military for several publications since 2004, and was nominated in the 2014 Pulitzer Final for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a veteran of the Iraq war.