In December we conducted a work shop on the warfighting options for the Littoral Combat Ship. I would like to take a few moments to write about the process that was used, why it was used, and how it fit into our war gaming project management process. Once again, I was impressed with our faculty and how they think problems out to help our sponsors achieve their objectives.
This work shop was the brain child of the Game Director Professor Leif Bergey and the Game Designer Mr. Larry Johnson, with a significant amount of assistance from the entire LCS Warfighting War Game team. Their vision was that before we could have a game, we needed actual employment options, since none or very few existed. To prepare for the work shop, the team spent a substantial amount of research time during the literature review. This identified the need for the work shop, and it also focused in on San Diego where the majority of the LCS expertise resided. But one of the interesting ideas that the team had was for the work shop participants to visit both types of LCS ships to see up close what the operating platforms looked like and what the differences were between these same “class” of ships. The work shop also included a series of briefs from the sponsors, the commanding officers of the two ships, and the program managers for the mission packages of surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and mine warfare. While many of the work shop participants were experts in their individual areas, the work shop highlighted that very few people had a working knowledge of the entire LCS mission package. Thus, the ship tours and the briefings served to give everyone a common understanding. This had a very positive effect of opening the aperture on everyone’s appreciation for the entire LCS program and enabled a richer discussion once the actual work shop process was engaged.
The main body of the work shop focused on developing warfighting options that the LCS could employ to support a JFMCC’s overall mission. The participants were then led through the different phases of an operation to determine what options the various mission packages could provide. Added to this was a determination of risk in employing the LCS to achieve certain tasks in certain locations throughout the scenario. I must say that this was hard work at best. Yet, due to the fact that the team had a well thought out plan to address the employment options in the different phases of an operation, this ensured that the work shop participants stayed on track the entire time.
So, where does this work shop fit in with our project management process? At the time of the work shop, the team was working in both the design and development phases. The work shop was necessary to provide the data required for execution of player activities during the war game. The work shop also used the phases of the proposed scenario, so it gave the team the opportunity to have the scenario reviewed by outside personnel. Thus the work shop was essential to the design phase. As we say, development is about playability. So as the team examined the requirements for the player list for the war game, they found that many were in attendance at the work shop. This certainly assisted the team in the development of the players, as many of these potential game players now have a better understanding of what would be expected of them during game execution.
The other piece that was so interesting during this work shop was the confirmation of how important it is to work with the sponsor of a game. Some feel that a flag officer as a sponsor may corrupt a game based on individual bias or a personal agenda. Others feel that a flag officer may not have the subject matter expertise to be value added to the gaming effort. This work shop reinforced in my mind the absolute critical nature of having flag officer involvement in the game. The direct support of the sponsor in this case resulted in a heightened awareness of this work shop and superb participation by the right experts to meet the objectives. So in closing, I feel that this work shop was one more example of how the War Gaming team is continuing to think through issues that are ill defined and using the right tools to help the sponsor get his or her arms around these complex problems.