Some of the tools that may be used in seminar war games might also be termed "props", as in props for a stage play or film. These can be deployed during the play of a seminar war game. There are four broad categories: command and control systems, planning tools, tools for assessment and adjudication within the game, and tools to support data collection and analysis. Some of the tools described below can support in more than one of these categories.
The Command Team
Providing trained individuals to play roles of Chief of Staff, traditional staff positions (e.g., branch heads for the "1 Shop" through to the "5 Shop"), advisors like POLAD (Political Advisor), LEGAD (JAG or Legal Advisor). In a sense, members of the command team constitute a "flesh and blood" component of the command and control system.
Command and Control Systems
OMNI FUSION 09 provided workstations for "Command Post of the Future" to staff at the division command post and at subordinate brigade command posts. Many other large seminar war games do the same with digital C2 systems provided to the players. Additionally, collaboration packages like Adobe Connect served as surrogates for voice and video conferencing between staff positions. In a seminar war game, players may be provided with the same C2 systems they would use on operations, or surrogates with similar and familiar capabilities; there may be a saving in training the players when this can be done.
Note: that there can be cases where provide digital C2 systems can detract from the seminar war game, for example if the players get lost in the intricacies of performing C2 tasks on the equipment rather than participating in the discussion.
Staff Planning Aids
Military planning staffs have many tools that they can employ for various estimated from the size and composition of
combat forces needed for specified missions, to consumption rates for food, water, fuel, and munitions, to casualties that
might be expected in certain conflict situations. These may come in various forms:
tailored computer programs, formulas in a spreadsheet,
tables, or manuals. Some of the planning aids may be embedded in C2 systems; so, if the players are using their
familiar C2 systems for the seminar war game, they may have ready access to many planning aids as a result.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Most war games depend on aspects of time and distance. These may be related to moving combat forces from one location to
another, to providing logistics support by convoy over some distance, the ranges and fields of view of various sensors, and
so on. When a combat simulation is part of a seminar war game, it may be used to resolve many aspects of time and distance,
although this is generally limited to movement or engagements of weapon systems -- a particular strength of combat simulations.
However, many seminar war games will not have an associated combat simulation that can be used for this, and often is not
required. There certainly are many aspects of time and distance where a combat simulation is either not appropriate or not
efficient for dealing with time and distance. Fortunately there are many packages that can assist. Many may have been developed
in the civilian realm and may have no components to determine the outcomes from combat. Nevertheless they can be valuable
to assessing other aspects of time and distance.
- Google Earth. The basic version of Google Earth is free and
provides the means to view satellite imagery, to superimpose various geographic features including buildings and roads, and
to calculate point-to-point distances and distances along a multi-point path. Google Earth Pro is an upgrade for business
applications with many more features, but has an annual fee.
- ESRI's ArcGIS. ArcGIS is a commercial package that is in wide use in
the geomatics community. The basic version provides considerable
capabilities to deal with time and distance aspects and, due to its popularity, technical support is often easily available
within the military community.
- MapView. MapView is a competitor to ArcGIS.
- FalconView. The US Department of Defense, through the Air
National Guard, funded Georgia Tech to develop FalconView in the 1990s as a computer-based mapping tool. It has much of
the functionality of commercial geographic information systems and is free for use on government projects. Georgia
Tech has since been funded to develop an open source software version of FalconView.
- While combat simulations can be used in their own right (and apart from seminar war games) to support analytical studies,
they can also be used within a seminar war game to resolve issues of combat interactions. Combat simulations that have been
used in this way include Janus,
- There are two approaches to employing combat simulations in conjunction with seminar war games. One approach is to have
players play out combat interaction within the combat simulation then participate in seminar-oriented discussion of what
transpired; this can arranged in sequence of alternate phases of combat play and seminar discussions. An alternative is to
have some players use the combat simulation while other players monitor this and conduct discourse in a seminar setting of
what is unfolding between the players who are using the combat simulation. A variant of this is the multi-level gaming
conducted within the Global games at the Naval War
College, with players at the strategic and operational levels conducting seminars while they monitor (and react to) results
of combat simulations played at the tactical level.
Collaboration Support -- e.g., Adobe Connect
Apart from providing players with a collaborative environment, a package like
Adobe Connect can support analysts with their own collaboration
network isolated from the players. These packages typically provide one-to-one and group-participation voice and video
collaboration, shared views of computer desktops, and multiple simultaneous authoring of shared documents.
Data Capture for Analysts
Many packages can be adapted to data collection and analysis within a seminar war game study. These include:
- Oracle, SQL, MicroSoft Access, or other database products
- MicroSoft Infopath
- MicroSoft Sharepoint and other collaboration packages that can provide a Wiki environment
- Spreadsheet packages like MicroSoft Excel and LibreOffice Calc
- S-Plus and R, or other statistical analysis packages