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Research Questions

  1. How could Navy use M&S as part of a decision support suite to address the challenges posed by HEWF, particularly to (1) prepare the current fleet for HEWF in the near term (up to five years) given the strategic environment; (2) develop, test and explore emerging warfighting concepts given the evolving operational environment; and (3) inform fleet design and fleet generation over the next decade as new capabilities are designed, developed and introduced into service?
  2. How could Navy adapt its M&S Strategy to better integrate and employ it across all aspects of the Navy program?

Growing regional military capabilities coupled with reduced warning times mean that the Royal Australian Navy requires a more responsive approach to acquiring, preparing and deploying military capabilities. The Navy is currently undergoing a significant transformation, with new platforms being introduced into service and existing ones undergoing major upgrades.

To help focus these efforts, the authors of this report provide an evidence base for an expanded Modelling and Simulation (M&S) Strategy for Navy so that it can better position itself to operate in a high-end warfighting (HEWF) environment. The authors review Navy M&S strategy broadly and recommend how it could be strengthened to support the ongoing modernisation.

Analysing information captured through a literature review, an environmental scan, and interviews, the authors make suggestions for inclusion in a revised strategy so that Navy can better utilise the benefits of M&S in both the immediate and longer terms. These suggestions go beyond traditional training applications to include the use of M&S as a decision support tool in development and testing of HEWF concepts in the maritime domain.

The authors develop an approach based on a standard strategy-to-task logic model. To meet the model's requirements, the relevant strategic requirements and key elements of the current and forecast states for Navy M&S are identified. These provide a basis for developing strategic focus areas for M&S lines of operation (LOOs) that incorporate enabling M&S functions, as well as introducing new LOOs related to the application of M&S in support of Navy's HEWF decision support requirements.

Key Findings

  • For M&S, the generation of a coherent set of maritime concepts of operation and concepts of employment for HEWF and grey-zone operations is one of the most pressing issues, as these set not only the capability platform, systems and weapons requirements but also the individual and collective competency and proficiency requirements and, downstream, the various simulators that support these requirements.
  • Navy's previous use of analytical wargaming and military experimentation methods as part of the Headmark series at the turn of the century provides a useful guiding method to address these problems. The wider commercial availability of analysis and experimentation services today, of a similar type to those providing decision support in the joint force development space, allows for an immediate solution as Navy regrows an organic analysis capability.
  • Review of the international experience does not reveal a single 'winning model' for Navy to adopt and follow. However, Navy's close operating ties with the U.S. Navy and a structural similarity with the Royal Navy will be useful in roadmapping and implementation.
  • An effective strategy of this type must be measured against the gaps and strategic drivers. The Navy's existing M&S strategy lacks explicit links to the Navy's own outcomes and the responsible and accountable officers.
  • A comprehensive strategy requires support to all Navy outcomes and M&S decision support aids to the responsible officers. However, given the significant changes in the explicit and implicit requirements for Navy, a maturing M&S capability should be approached in stages, even if rapidly.


  • Update the M&S enablers and add a further four application LOOs (Support to Strategic Functions, Employ the Fleet, Generate the Fleet, and Navy Information Warfare).
  • Establish an M&S-enabled analytical campaign to understand the challenges in conducting maritime HEWF, characterise gaps that emerge, and develop and test new maritime warfighting concepts.
  • Develop an analytical wargaming service and follow this with augmentation of the staffing of Maritime Warfare Centre to support a fleet design function.
  • Engage with the United States Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory to understand its approach and plan and determine the utility of their current M&S tools.
  • Scope out the M&S and decision support requirements for Navy information warfare across all classifications.
  • Enhance the Maritime Synthetic Environment to better support classified simulations, including updating ICT infrastructure, facilities, models and databases.

Research conducted by

This research was prepared for the Head Navy Capability, Royal Australian Navy, and conducted by RAND Australia.

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