Providing the tools to help explore mission-critical questions.
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ICONS simulations have been used widely by the U.S. Department of Defense. Through the Office of Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA), ICONS staff have designed and run simulations for the Pacific Command (PACOM), the Central Command (CENTCOM), the European Command (EUCOM), the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), and the Special Operations Command Central Command (SOCCENT), as well as for the US Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestine Authority (USSC). Each of the commands had its own set of strategic concerns that they wanted evaluated and sharpened through the use of distributed simulations that would allow participation by a widely-distributed set of USG personnel and university-based subject matter experts. In some cases, these unclassified ICONS simulations served as the basis for follow-on classified wargames run by the National Intelligence Council. In several cases, these simulations were jointly supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Some examples of this work follow.
Counter-Da'esh influence operations: Cognitive space narrative simulation insights
In April 2016, at the request of DoD JS/J-39, the Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) program, in coordination with United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), ICONS conducted a virtual Counter-Da'esh Messaging Simulation that brought together nearly 100 Psychological Operation (PSYOP) operators, USG and UK observers, interagency representatives, population experts from Iraq and North Africa, Da'esh experts, and academicians.
The Counter Da'esh simulation had two general objectives:
- explore means of enhancing PSYOP training and effectiveness
- pre-test narrative space options for degrading the effectiveness of Da'esh messaging to key population constituencies.
What emerged from this simulation was the realization that an increased operational tempo within the narrative space, combined with embedded, virtual expertise from a cadre of multidisciplinary experts, appeared to increase the effectiveness of DoD messaging in the simulated narrative space. (Linera, R., Seese, G., and Canna, S. (2015) "Counter-Da'esh Influence Operations: Cognitive Space Narrative Simulation Insights." nsiteam.com)
Challenges, risks, and opportunities to legitimacy and sovereignty between neighbors with competing security requirements
The ICONS Project at the University of Maryland was charged by the United States Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority with developing a simulation to address the following question: With respect to cross-border arrests, prosecutions, and targeted lethal action, what are the challenges, risks, and opportunities to legitimacy and sovereignty between neighbors with competing security requirements? The simulation evaluated strategic risks and identified knowledge gaps in our understanding of potential future security environments and their implications for Palestinian security sector reform. The following objectives for the simulation were identified:
- Gain insights on opportunities/challenges to effective confidence-building and crisis management when faced with competing security requirements
- Identify capabilities and contingencies which will be most useful for helping the Palestinian Security Forces cope with legitimacy issues, so international actors can effectively focus their resources for ministry-level institutional capacity building
- Provide insights that can be brought to the inter-agency/broader USG stakeholders as deemed appropriate
(Wilkenfeld, J. (Ed.). (2015). A Geopolitical and Cognitive Assessment of The Israeli-Palestinian Security Conundrum. nsiteam.com)