A Simple Game-Theoretic Approach to Suppression of Enemy Defenses and Other Time Critical Target Analyses
Sep 23, 2004
When planning operations against time-critical targets (TCTs), military commanders typically think about how much capability they need to kill enemy forces. However, they also consider how their strategies will affect the enemy's behavior. TCT operations include suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), interdiction of moving forces, and attacks against theater ballistic missiles (TBMs). Convincing an enemy not to fire surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), not to move his forces, or not to launch TBMs is often a satisfactory short-term alternative to physically destroying enemy systems.
A study by RAND Project AIR FORCE (PAF) shows how military planners can use game theory to understand the effects of U.S. strategy and capabilities on the enemy in TCT operations. Game theory uses mathematics to model human decisionmaking in competitive situations. It is ideally suited for analyzing military situations because it depicts the realistic situation in which both sides are free to choose their best "moves" and to adjust their strategy over time. Military planners can apply these principles to TCT operations through game theoretic analysis. The method consists of the following steps:
Game theoretic analysis enables analysts to see how an intelligent opponent is likely to behave in a given situation and which side is likely to win. If both sides correctly ascertain the situation, then the losing side may decide not to participate. For example, in a simple SEAD encounter, the defender might decide that preserving his SAMs is more important than attempting to shoot down strike aircraft if his chances of inflicting heavy losses on the attacker are small. Insights such as these help military planners to understand how much capability they would need to achieve the best outcome for their side.