Enhancing Wargaming Fidelity with Network Digital Twins

September 1, 2020 by Leslie Provenzano

EXata-enhanced Command Professional Edition

Human decision-making fundamentally relies upon communications and networks to contain, extract, and disseminate time-sensitive, mission-relevant information to win decisively against opposing forces, particularly when engaged in asymmetric combat.  Future conflicts will involve attempts to disrupt information systems that are critical for communication and for assured operation of highly sophisticated weapons systems.  Disruption is already a capability of potential adversary forces and will spread to secondary threats allied to them.  This creates an urgent need for wargames to incorporate real-world cyber, communications, and networking effects to support development of effective operating concepts, capabilities, and plans. The complexity of a multi-domain, combined cyber and kinetic battlefield requires incorporation of high fidelity, physics-based Network Digital Twins into future wargame environments to adequately account for potential impacts resulting from degraded network operations and/or cyber vulnerabilities on overall mission outcomes.

A Network Digital Twin refers to a computer simulation model of the communication network together with its operating environment and the application traffic carried by it.   It can be used to enhance overall wargame fidelity in a low-cost and zero-risk environment, improving the knowledge and insights gained from wargame execution.  In order to do so effectively, the Network Digital Twin must have sufficient fidelity to accurately reflect the network dynamics due to the interplay between the communication protocol and topology, application traffic, the physical environment, and cyber attacks, thus appropriately differentiating between cyber attacks that are a mere annoyance and those that have the potential to disrupt the mission timeline.

Command Professional Edition (Command PE) by Matrix Games is currently being utilized by multiple US and International military agencies for wargaming, modeling, simulation, and analysis of wartime plans, operations, weapon systems, logistics, and energy consumption in direct support of today’s warfighters.  This tool provides for real time evaluation of emerging technology concepts by placing them in a representative simulated wartime environment.  In order to further enhance this capability, SCALABLE Network Technologies is partnering with Matrix Games to interface Command PE with SCALABLE’s EXata cyber, communications, and networking simulation software to incorporate network digital twin models into the Command PE wargame environment.

Figure 1 depicts how this EXata-enhanced Command PE interface works.  At the start of the wargame simulation run (T1), Command PE provides EXata with initial positions/conditions for all platforms in the wargame scenario of interest.  EXata matches those platform initial positions/conditions exactly and establishes a network digital twin between all represented friendly forces that replicates real-world military communications capabilities for the platforms included in the Command PE wargame.  As the wargame progresses (T2), all mobility and contact detections are reported to EXata by Command PE.  EXata continues to match all Command PE platform positions/conditions and provides high fidelity simulation of the communications necessary for contact reports to be shared between platforms, providing results of those communication events back to Command PE (T3).

Using this EXata-enhanced Command PE capability, platforms can share information using the military communications network being modeled in the environment they’re operating in under the conditions specified by the wargame planners.  Activities that can disrupt communications such as cyber/EW attacks, network overload, weather, terrain, etc. are incorporated into the wargame scenario in EXata to assess their impact and ensure they’re accounted for in the post-game analysis.  This EXata-enhanced Command PE capability enables operators to more rigorously evaluate operational plans and logistical approaches by incorporating real-world cyber, communications, and network effects on mission effectiveness in an intuitive and efficient manner.

Figure 1. EXata-enhanced Command PE Capability

Reach out to us directly to learn more about EXata and its capabilities including the ability to interface with other warfare simulators such as VR Forces, NGTS, AFSIM, and OneSAF individually or in combination.

Visit Matrix Games website at https://www.matrixgames.com/pro-software  to learn more about Command PE and its capabilities.