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CHIPS Articles: 10th NWDC-Hosted Strike Group 360° War Game Wraps Up

10th NWDC-Hosted Strike Group 360° War Game Wraps Up
By Grant Sattler, Navy Warfare Development Command Public Affairs - July-September 2016
NORFOLK NAVAL STATION, NAVY WARFARE DEVELOPMENT COMMAND (NWDC) — NWDC recently marked a significant milestone with the completion of its tenth Strike Group 360° war game as Carrier Strike Group One completed play on July 27.

Strike Group 360° is a table-top war game played over the SIPRNET by a Carrier Strike Group Staff against NWDC’s “thinking” Red Cell, and is designed to help the Strike Group plan and execute major combat operations against a peer adversary in a highly contested environment.

“The table-top war game creates a learning opportunity for the Strike Group staff in a ‘non-graded, academic’ environment, develops a staff’s ‘tactical DNA’, and reinvigorates the critical warfare thinking process needed to succeed in a high-end sea control fight,” said NWDC Operations Director Capt. Jim Loper.

Co-developed with the Naval War College in November 2012, NWDC has continually updated scenarios to reflect the latest developments in adversary capabilities and tactics, changes in U.S. Navy capabilities and doctrine, and geopolitical environments. Eight Carrier Strike Groups and a Command Task Force have taken part in the war game.

NWDC provides a SG 360° White Cell to adjudicate Strike Group moves and the opposing force, or OPFOR, through participation of a “Red Cell.” The Red Cell’s team of subject matter experts replicates all aspects of a specified OPFOR based on exhaustive all-source intelligence research and collaboration with various specialists throughout the Intelligence Community.

“Realism requires a combination of solid intelligence preparation, operational expertise, and rigorous analysis,” said Cmdr. Matt Young, NWDC N32 Information Dominance/Intelligence Division. “Analysis is a key component in presenting situations and institutional behaviors that have not been observed or studied extensively in the real world. The ‘art’ of portraying OPFOR involves presenting plausible changes in OPFOR behavior, such as indications and warnings, reactions to Staff Group actions, likely political constraints and so forth, as they relate to event scenarios.”

“The thinking adversary challenges the CSG staff to be able to react to unforeseen circumstances. It forces the staff to really dig into the enemy capabilities to be able to assess risk to force, operational constraints, mission priorities, and commander’s intent,” said CDR Brian Lenk, SG 360° War Game lead. “The unscripted nature of the game helps staffs think out of the box to explore the latest tactics, techniques, and procedures for major combat at sea.”

The SG 360° war game has also become an increasingly valuable tool in NWDC’s capability development efforts. “The results of each game exploring decision-making possibilities and capturing human insights are recorded in after action reports,” said Capt. Loper. “What we learn from each game immediately impacts the next game iteration, improving the experience for the next Strike Group staff. We also use the insights to identify potential intelligence gaps, which we share with the Intelligence Community, as well as tactical gaps, which we are working hard to make available to all the strike groups and the training community. The real beauty of Strike Group 360° is that staffs can experiment with bold initiatives, and fail, without any real world risk. It’s in this environment where we can really get at the goal of accelerating learning the way the CNO laid it out in ‘A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority’.”

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