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Operations Research and Management Science for Military Decision Making

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[Princeton University]


- Overview

Operations research (OR) is a discipline that uses mathematical optimization, statistics, forecasting, and machine learning to solve problems. 

Operations Research was first used in World War II to help high-level decision makers analyze alternatives for strategic ground, air, and maritime operations. 


- Military Applications of Operations Research

The military exclusively uses operations research (OR) at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. These applications cover the full range of military activities, including national policy analysis, resource allocation, force composition and modernization, logistics, human resources, operational planning, and maintenance and resupply. 

Operations research (OR) is a discipline that involves building models to solve optimization problems. In the military, OR can be used for a variety of activities, including: 

  • Selecting and acquiring weapons
  • Evaluating tactical plans
  • Designing and developing weapon systems
  • National policy analysis
  • Resource allocation
  • Force composition and modernization
  • Logistics
  • Human resources
  • Battle planning
  • Maintenance and replenishment


Operation Research can also be used for threat identification and identifying possible counter-actions. For example, during the Cold War, strategies from The Game of Chickens and The Prisoner's Dilemma were analyzed and applied to the Cuban missile crisis

The Operations Research/Systems Analysis (ORSA) functional area includes a variety of disciplines, such as: 

  • Personnel management
  • Doctrine and force development
  • Training management
  • System testing
  • System acquisition
  • Decision analysis
  • Resource management
  • Tactical, operational, and strategic planning


The ORSA functional area has fewer than 450 authorized slots, making the application process competitive. 

[Dinant, Belgium - dsstreetart]

- The Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS)

The Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) is a secure communications network being developed by the U.S. Air Force to improve command and control. 

ABMS uses cloud computing and new communications methods to allow Air Force and Space Force systems to share data. The goal is to provide battlefield commanders with the information they need to make faster, better decisions.

ABMS is part of the Pentagon's Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concept. JADC2 seeks to connect sensors and shooters and distribute data to all domains (air, land, sea, cyber and space).

Since 2018, the Air Force has been working to reorganize and advance the ABMS program. In 2022, the Air Force has selected five companies to join the ABMS Digital Infrastructure Alliance. These companies are L3Harris, Northrop Grumman, Leidos, Raytheon and SAIC.


- Space Battle Management System

Space battle management is a tactical system that ensures forces operating satellites or ground-based sensors work together and understand their surroundings. The Space Development Agency (SDA) is testing the Battle Management, Command, Control and Communications (BMC3) software module on its first batch of transport layer data relay satellites. 

The BMC3 software module will provide automated space-based combat management through command and control, tasking, mission processing and dissemination.

Space Operations Command (SpOC) is the first field command of the U.S. Space Force. SpOC's mission is to protect the United States and its allies in, from, and to space. U.S. Space Command was established in late 2019 to plan, execute and integrate military space power into global operations.


- AI in Military Conflict Simulations

The U.S. military is one of many organizations embracing artificial intelligence (AI) in this era, but it may want to pump the brakes a little. 

A study into the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in foreign policy decision-making finds how quickly the technology can call for war instead of seeking peaceful solutions. Some AI in the study have even launched nuclear wars with little warning and come up with bizarre explanations.

Here's some information about AI in military conflict simulations:

  • Study uses AI in military conflict simulation: A study found that five AI models used in simulated war scenarios chose violence and nuclear attacks every time. The study also found that AI models consistently choose to initiate arms races, deploy nuclear weapons, and escalate to war in a series of conflict simulations.
  • AI war simulation: The Nuclear War Simulator creates unpredictable scenarios triggered by minimal input from the user. The simulator states that if several countries are controlled by the AI, it will lead to an escalating series of counterattacks that will most likely end in an all-out nuclear war.
  • AI in foreign policy decision-making: A study using AI in foreign policy decision-making found how quickly the tech would call for war instead of finding peaceful resolutions.
  • AI apocalypse: A study simulated what artificial intelligence would do in five military conflict scenarios and it chose WAR 100% of the time.


Nuclear War Simulators

The Nuclear War Simulator can be controlled entirely by the user and also includes an AI that can control a country to launch nuclear weapons as a response to your actions. 
Each country has a political leadership figure with an AI that can be enabled and adjusted to respond to detonations on its territory and to missiles detected by early-warning radar and satellites. 

If several countries are controlled by the AI it will lead to an escalating series of counterattacks that will most likely end in an all-out nuclear war. This can be used to create unpredictable scenarios triggered by minimal input from the user.


[More to come ...]



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