Buzz surrounding the Marine Corps’ new, innovative wargaming center continues to grow within the Department of Defense.
Earlier this year, the Marine Corps broke ground on the Marine Corps Wargaming and Analysis Center. The 100,000 square-foot facility will provide next-generation technologies to help Marines better visualize the threat environment and gain competitive advantages over adversaries.
The facility will enable Marines to leverage modern modeling technology that replicates the future operating environment, enabling participants to develop new skills and test new concepts in a simulated, realistic setting.
“This new wargaming facility represents the Marine Corps’ undying effort to support the future Marine,” said Lt. Col. Raymond Feltham, MCSC’s program manager for Wargaming Capability. “MCWAC will offer innovative capabilities that will prepare them for battle against an ever-evolving threat.”
The groundbreaking ceremony was a significant moment for the Marine Corps.
It represented the culmination of a years long effort as well as myriad planning and researching by Marine Corps Systems Command, the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, Operations Analysis Directorate, and Capabilities Development Directorate to produce a facility that influences Force Design 2030 concepts.
However, the Marine Corps will not work alone.
Developing the new, state-of-the-art facility requires the influence and expertise of multiple parties to achieve its potential. Col. Robert Bailey, MCSC’s portfolio manager for Command Element Systems, said the Corps is soliciting help from several partners, including the U.S. Navy and industry.
MCWAC will also provide a critical asset to the joint force and senior leadership that has been currently unavailable in the National Capital Region. The location facilitates participation in wargames by joint, interagency and multinational organizations.
“The biggest theme here is ‘communication,’” said Bailey. “It takes a village to build the Marine Corps’ next game-changing capability—the wargaming and analysis center.”
Feltham believes collaboration among Marine Corps organizations, other services and industry serve a critical role in bringing this next-generation capability to the warfighter.
It begins with MCSC’s Program Manager Wargaming Capability, who oversees the delivery of future wargaming capabilities to the Marine Corps. The program office will provide acquisition support for the facility throughout its lifecycle.
This role requires MCSC to manage balancing and coordinating parallel schedules, stakeholder relationships, staffing and the implementation of capabilities through various integrated product teams, said Feltham.
“The program office has partnered with a number of other organization such as the Naval Surface Warfare Center–Dam Neck and Naval Surface Warfare Center– Panama City for wargaming and modeling and simulation subject matter expert support,” added Feltham.
The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab will run the facility’s day-to-day operations. MCWL is the organization responsible for generating and examining capabilities while also providing recommendations to inform force design and development activities.
“MCWL has been designated as the end-user for this capability and will assume the sustainment, funding, and operational functions associated with that responsibility,” said William J. Lademan, Ph.D., technical director for the Wargaming Division at MCWL.
Capabilities Development Directorate will oversee the facility’s requirements. The role of CDD is to inform, address and develop solutions on a broad range of critical issues affecting the Marine Corps, including how to best organize, train and equip the future Marine.
Len Blasiol, the requirements lead for the Wargaming Capability at CDD, said MCWAC will allow the organization to gain comprehensive understanding of capability requirements for the modernization efforts associated with force development and force design.
“Through MCWAC, the output produced by wargames will provide the Operations Analysis Directorate at CD&I a rich source of data suitable for deep analysis,” said Blasiol.
The U.S. Navy will serve an important role in the construction of MCWAC. The Marine Corps is soliciting help from several naval organizations who are subject matter experts in military construction coordinated projects.
For example, Marine Corps Installations Command is working with Naval Facilities Engineering Command to coordinate the construction of the facility, including a multistory parking garage and associated site improvements and utility work.
Naval Information Warfare Center-Atlantic will be installing much of the building’s interior components, such as the security system, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, audio visual and teleconference systems, information technology systems and more.
Feltham, who spoke about the benefits of the wargaming center on a recent episode of MCSC’s “Equipping the Corps” podcast, applauded NAVFAC and NIWC-Atlantic representatives for their assistance and devotion to supporting critical Marine Corps objectives.
“Marine Corps Systems Command really appreciates the support provided by our many partners, including the U.S. Navy,” said Feltham. “These partnerships are significant in the Marine Corps’ journey to becoming a more lethal naval force.”
Meeting Force Design 2030
MCSC will work with industry to procure 21st-century capabilities designed to identify issues, consider objectives, and scope and analyze the problems. The resulting wargames will provide data and analytics to inform decisions affecting force development, force management, system functionality and service functionality.
The Marine Corps is enhancing its wargaming capability by shifting from its current, human-driven process that relies on the knowledge and experience of subject matter experts to a hybrid, data-driven method where participants can obtain information more quickly and accurately.
Data-driven wargames allow the Corps to meet its long-term objectives in a more measured manner. The wargaming capability enables increased data collection and consolidation, resulting in larger amounts of information and lessons-learned that the Corps can share throughout the Department of Defense.
“Enhancing the wargaming capability will increase battlefield visualization, improve wargaming operational environments and increase user fidelity,” said Bailey.
Just as flight simulators allow pilots to gain experience in a safe, controlled environment, an enhanced, data-driven wargaming scenario will help Marines explore future capabilities, evaluate operational plans and rehearse lethal warfighting capabilities in a setting in which mistakes are not fatal.
MCWAC will support at least 20 sophisticated wargames annually, including two simultaneous large-scale events with up to 250 participants. These simulations and scenarios will realistically simulate warfare, replicating present and future scenarios for any force size at any given time.
“This wargaming center will also incorporate elements of artificial intelligence and machine learning to amplify decision accuracy that determine the way we organize, train and equip for the future fight,” said Feltham.
The Marine Corps has placed a greater emphasis on more efficiently and effectively training and educating its force for the future fight. Feltham said MCWAC serves as a significant contributor in meeting this objective and increasing battlefield preparation.
Marines can repeatedly run scenarios while controlling specific factors. These iterations enable Marines to practice myriad missions and provide real-time feedback, enabling the Marine Corps to make educated assessments to validate or adjust force design-related decisions.
Feltham said the facility allows the Marine Corps to expedite its “campaign of learning.” This concept enables the identification of a concept and incorporating it into live, constructive wargaming experimentations.
“These outcomes produced within MCWAC will refine Force Design 2030 by informing the campaign of learning across the Marine Corps in a data-centric, objective and integrated fashion,” said Feltham.
The facility adheres to Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger’s vision. In his planning guidance, Berger underscored the importance of delivering a force better prepared to deter conflict inside the weapons engagement zone.
With Berger’s emphasis on expeditionary advanced base operations, MCWAC will allow Marines to prepare for a moving, evolving adversary in any location on the globe.
“From a priorities perspective, this wargaming center is very important to the Marine Corps,” said Bailey. “This facility will help us visualize what forces are going to look like in 2030 and beyond.”
The Marine Corps anticipates the facility opening in 2024 and reaching full capability in 2025.
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Story by Matt Gonzales, Marine Corps Systems Command