The Marines want to double their virtual wargaming exercises and partner their elite warfighting strategy think tankers to prepare for future combat.

Lt. Col. Ross Monta spoke at the annual Modern Day Marine military expo at Quantico, Virginia, Tuesday, and told attendees that the three- to five-year plan would require the capability to conduct 20 war games a year, including two large-scale, 250-participant exercises.

Monta heads the Wargaming Center at Quantico, which falls under Marine Corps Systems Command.

The simulation will provide “accurate representation of future operating environments ..., simulate friendly and enemy capabilities” and perform “rapid, in-depth analysis of game-derived data or insights.”

On the same panel with the colonel was Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader, commander of Marine Corps Systems Command. Shrader said that the lab has to get beyond “moving yellow stickies on a map” with its wargaming scenarios.

Currently the lab conducts around 11 wargames annually, the colonel said. In the short-to-midterm, the warfighting lab needs a simulation capability in its building soon.

The future is uncertain, but an entirely new building to house the simulation technology could be in the works, as well as new staff and collaboration with the Ellis Group, the colonel said.

The Ellis Group examines future conflict scenarios and looks at strategy and planning for amphibious operations.

Col. Walt Yates, head of Training Systems Command, will provide simulations expertise, and said after the presentation that the aim will be to run a scenario using artificial intelligence as many as 1,000 times.

With those numbers, planners can learn probabilities of victory, casualty expectations and the logistics required to accomplish the mission.

Simulation capabilities would also allow commanders to run scenarios against future threats to gauge what equipment and tactics are most needed to succeed.

Consideration of these factors will inform planning for everything from buying the next piece of combat gear to how best to deploy forces, Yates said.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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