Modeling Rapidly Composable, Heterogeneous, and Fractionated Forces
Jan 5, 2021
To reduce cost of conflict and increase effectiveness and robustness, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is considering a warfighting construct known as Mosaic warfare, after the analogy of creating a complex image from many small, simple pieces. For this report, researchers studied potential benefits and trade-offs of Mosaic warfare using a competitive resource allocation problem known as a Colonel Blotto game.
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RAND researchers explored the capabilities and limitations of future weapon systems incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) through two wargame experiments. The researchers modified and augmented the rules and engagement statistics used in a commercial tabletop wargame to enable (1) remotely operated and fully autonomous combat vehicles and (2) vehicles with AI/ML–enabled situational awareness to show how the two types of vehicles would perform in company-level engagements between Blue (U.S.) and Red (Russian) forces. Those rules sought to realistically capture the capabilities and limitations of those systems, including their vulnerability to selected enemy countermeasures, such as jamming. Future work could improve the realism of both the gameplay and representation of AI/ML–enabled systems.
In this experiment, participants played two games: a baseline game and an AI/ML game. Throughout play in the two game scenarios, players on both sides discussed the capabilities and limitations of the remotely operated and fully autonomous systems and their implications for engaging in combat using such systems. These discussions led to changes in how the systems were employed by the players and observations about which limitations should be mitigated before commanders were likely to accept a system and which capabilities needed to be fully understood by commanders so that systems could be employed appropriately.
This research demonstrated how such games, by bringing together operators and engineers, could be used by the requirements and acquisition communities to develop realizable requirements and engineering specifications for AI/ML systems.
Resource Fractionation Results
Capability Fractionation Results
This research was sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).
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