DOD adopts simulation standards

The Defense Department looking for more of a return on its investment in modeling and simulation technology has established a basic technical architecture to which all present and future simulation projects must conform.

By its own estimate DOD spends billions of dollars each year building maintaining and running scores of independent simulation programs for battlefield training battle analysis and weapons research.

The new DOD High Level Architecture lays out the basic rules of behavior simulation that programs should follow and defines the interfaces through which these programs built independently can interact with each other.

Under an order signed last month by Paul Kaminski undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and technology all future simulation programs must comply with HLA and all existing programs must be brought into compliance or phased out by the first day of fiscal 2001.

DOD believes HLA will make it easier to get more use - and reuse - out of its simulation programs. "It's a real step forward for the DOD and how it's going to build and field models and simulations in the future " said Anita K. Jones director of Defense research and engineering.

In particular DOD wants to be able to build "federations" of simulation programs in fairly short order. For example a joint exercise might be simulated by tying together a program developed by the Navy with another developed by the Marines.

Such joint exercises have become a priority because so many DOD missions have a joint flavor. "We are building more capable more authoritative and more adaptable tools to ask the kinds of questions the joint services need to ask " Jones said.

Providing interoperability is a cost-effective alternative to having each DOD organization try to build multiple programs itself. Unfortunately many existing programs were not built with such connectivity in mind.

Different organizations have made some "heroic efforts" in the past to make legacy systems interoperate but now that will be unnecessary said Air Force Maj. Gen. Tom Case DOD's director of modeling simulation and analysis. "The HLA will save significant money because we build in compatibility and `composability' that just isn't there in the current set of legacy [simulation programs] " he said.

HLA was developed over an 18-month period by DOD's Architecture Management Group under the purview of the Defense Modeling and Simulation Office.


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