NORFOLK (NNS) — Navy Warfare Development Command's new Fleet-360 war game aims to increase fighting effectiveness at the operational level of war. The U.S. 6th Fleet completed play of the first game in January.
"Fleet-360 is a move-based, tabletop war game designed at the operational level of war for fleet commanders to execute an existing operation plan or contingency plan of their choosing," said Capt. Chad Brown, NWDC Modeling and Simulation department head. Fleet-360 provides an opportunity for Fleet maritime operations centers (MOCs) to exercise infrequently used skills and functions, operate with a fleet centric mindset, set conditions for subordinate commanders, and develop expertise in emerging concepts.
"The game is constructed to allow senior and junior staff alike to work closely with the commander to better understand his or her intent," Brown said. "The war game is designed to incorporate participation by combined task forces (CTFs) and combined task groups (CTGs) subordinate to the Fleet MOC, thereby testing and improving their ability to absorb and implement the Fleet Commander's intent."
Feedback from participants in the first Fleet-360 game was uniformly positive and validated objectives such as developing a better-trained staff, indoctrinating new personnel to the MOC, and building the "bench." The war game provided a first experience for thinking and planning at the operational level of war for many junior and mid-grade officers.
NWDC is an integral part of the Navy's warfighting development system, delivering and integrating new capability to the fleet at the tactical and operational levels of war. Fleet-360 traces its roots to the Strike Group-360 war game series, which has been directed from NWDC since 2012.
"Both games have a similar format, using a 'playing chess by email' construct and combination of computer and human adjudication methodology, wherein the adjudication 'output' from one move is used as the 'input' for the next move," said NWDC Modeling and Simulation Director Ken Enriquez. Both games also include combat operations against a peer adversary.
"What differs is the level of focus," Enriquez said. "Whereas the strike group game is designed at the tactical level of war, the fleet game's focus is squarely on the operational level of war."
The Fleet-360 war game differs from, but contributes to other operational level of war (OLW) events, such as Combatant Command, Joint and Navy exercises.
Unlike traditional OLW training events, the game is played on a flexible schedule, allowing participation to fit within the fleet's normal battle rhythm and not add undue administrative burden. Participants reported the self-paced war game is valuable for learning and trying new ideas. "It is also a non-graded event, allowing the fleet commander great latitude to delve into areas of his or her own choosing to explore decision making possibilities and capture insights, which are then documented in the war game's final report," Enriquez said.
Other major differences are that Fleet-360 is not driven by a master scenario events list, does not follow a pre-designed script, and is played versus a very robust, thinking red cell that is informed by a wide swath of the intelligence community.
Fleet-360 is a valuable new war game for making a fleet commander and staff more effective fighting at the OLW as our Navy faces increasingly capable technologies available to a greater range of adversaries.
As the Navy looks to NWDC to lead innovation and accelerate the development of operational capabilities, Fleet-360 is an additional means to identify critical military problems and will inform development, integration, and acceleration of innovative solutions that enable the Navy weapon system to out-pace maritime threats.