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Activity title

Course of Action Analysis in the 21st Century

Activity Reference



System Analysis and Studies

Security Classification




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Campaign analysis, course of action, operational analysis, scenario, wargaming, weapon systems data


Course of Action (CoA) analysis is a mandated component of NATO operational planning (Comprehensive Operations Planning Directive (COPD)) and is also an essential element of the evolving scenario testing methodology used in defence planning to support the identification of NATO Minimum Capability Requirements (MCR). Over the past 15 years, the security environment has been such that the analytic focus in NATO has been primarily on Crisis Response Operations (CROs) for which specific analytical methods (these methods focus on presence, control, counter-insurgency, stabilization and reconstruction rather than conventional force on force engagements) have been developed to support CoA analyses. However, the evolving global security environment has led to a renewed focus within NATO on the analysis of large scale, collective defence scenarios for which campaign analysis models and wargaming were historically applied to CoA analyses. There have been considerable advances in weapon systems accuracy and effectiveness, weapon delivery means, the use of special forces, etc. which are not reflected in current campaign analysis models available to NATO with sufficient fidelity. The combinatory effect of these changes has generally not been reflected in campaign analysis models used by/available to Operational Analysts within NATO to advise commanders in their CoA analyses.


To improve CoA analyses by leveraging the expertise and capabilities within the nations (relating to campaign analysis models and wargaming) to enhance NATO and national defence and operational planning. Establish the state of campaign analysis models and wargaming within NATO and the nations, identify shortfalls, implement appropriate short term corrective measures and identify additional actions that could potentially be taken to achieve the main objective.


Topics relevant to this activity include: Inventories of existing campaign analysis software models and underlying data (Collecting this data may have classification issues national and NATO. Admitting data gaps may be sensitive to some organizations. This affects survey design and completeness) - Definition of the scope of campaign analysis models of interest to this activity: required to support defence and operational planning; - Development of a questionnaire to capture key characteristics of campaign analysis models – to be filled in by appropriate entities / POCs within NATO and the Nations; - Design of survey: choice of metrics for model and data assessment - Sharing of available models and data + Coordination with SAS-115 Smart Cooperation in OA Simulation Models feedback from Workshop (expected Q4 2015) on potential means for sharing OA models that may be suitable for sharing campaign analysis models. Assess the utilization and availability of wargaming approaches for CoA analyses within NATO/nations: - Identify and survey professional military wargaming skillset education and training programs - Survey the practices used to identify and select participants in course of action wargames - Survey defense planning requirements to use wargaming in course of action analysis and planning, as well as senior leader actual use and acceptance of these methods - Identify and briefly describe professional military wargaming groups and facilities Shortfall analysis - Analysis of questionnaire responses. - Identification of limitations in campaign analysis models and underlying data; - Connection with NATO/nations defence and operational planning Proposal for follow-on activity, if deemed appropriate. - Proof of concept demo/application.

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