Cover: Network Logistics Games

Network Logistics Games

Design and Implementation

Published Apr 19, 2023

by Sydney Litterer, Jennifer Brookes, Stephen M. Worman, David A. Shlapak


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Research Question

  1. How can logistics be represented in an operational wargame in a way that reflects the complexity of logistics systems without requiring computer aids?

Historically, logistics are often ignored or abstracted at a very high level during operational wargames, even though the ability to resupply units is vital for waging and winning a war in the real world. This report details a logistics game design that reflects the complexity of logistics systems without requiring computer aids, which can be too time-consuming to use during game adjudication and may require technology that is not available in secure game venues.

This game design is flexible enough to accommodate a variety of scenarios, objectives, and modifications. It lends itself particularly well to scenarios in which resources are limited or unexpected obstacles could appear, including nonmilitary scenarios. Its potential uses include exploring new concepts of operations, illuminating vulnerabilities in logistics networks, understanding the dynamics of supply movements, highlighting the broader impacts of logistics planning, and brainstorming solutions to challenges.

Key Findings

This game design can be used for a variety of purposes

  • It can be used to implement various concepts for logistics operations and explore the potential feasibility and possible implementation challenges of those concepts.
  • It can be used to generate insight into the vulnerability of a logistics network to disruption from either natural or adversarial causes.
  • It can be used to understand logistics system dynamics in the context of unpredictable human decisionmaking.
  • It can be used to generate solutions to problems encountered in real logistics systems.
  • It can be used to improve combat-focused wargames by identifying conditions under which it is or is not reasonable to assume forces will have adequate supplies to carry out operations.

This research was sponsored by the Joint Staff J8 and conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Program of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

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