MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
In May, the Marine Corps broke ground on a new, state-of-the-art wargaming facility intended to house various capabilities to enhance warfighter preparedness.
The groundbreaking ceremony, held aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, included an assembly of highly ranked Marine Corps officials, including event host Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, deputy commandant for the Marine Corps Combat Development and Integration.
“This facility is a big deal to us, to the commandant and to those [young men and women] at Parris Island or at San Diego,” said Smith. “There are a bunch of officer candidates training right now who have no idea what is going on here today. But they will benefit [from this facility].”
Wargames simulate realistic warfare. Wargaming may include computer-based exercises or other artificial vehicles that allow users to consider scenarios to improve decision-making and obtain success on the battlefield.
The Marine Corps employs wargames to enhance tactical and strategic decision-making, to test new tactics and strategies, and to predict trends in future conflicts.
Upon completion, the Marine Corps Wargaming and Analysis Center will be a 100,000 square-foot facility designed to help Marines better visualize the threat environment, gain competitive advantages over adversaries and simulate future operating environments.
Marines will be able to participate in both small- and large-scale wargames that realistically simulate warfare, replicating present and future scenarios. Wargames will help them identify issues, consider objectives and analyze complex, fluid problems in a rapidly evolving operational environment.
The wargaming center will also provide data to inform decisions affecting force development, force management and system functionality. Simulations will support existing and developing weapons platforms and capabilities in all regions of the globe.
Marine Corps Systems Command’s Wargaming Capability program office will provide acquisition support for the technologies employed within the facility throughout its lifecycle.
“This facility will include a complex set of modeling and simulation, visualization, immersive and analytical tools to enhance wargaming activities,” said Sharleene Prieur, acting program manager for MCSC’s WGC. “These tools will enable wargame participants to work through complex problems or develop fully informed, data-enabled decisions to support the Marine Corps planning process.”
Meeting future efforts
The Marine Corps Wargaming and Analysis Center is designed to support the future fight.
In 2017, then-Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller directed the establishment of a world-class facility for Marines to wargame repeatedly in a secure, centralized location and enhance the Marine Corps’ ability to make analytically-informed decisions.
Then, in summer 2019, the Marine Corps began activities to reshape the service’s focus toward naval warfare and the joint force, supporting 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger’s vision to deliver a force better prepared to deter conflict inside the weapons engagement zone.
Smith said the Marine Corps intends to invest in capabilities such as long-range precision fires, advanced reconnaissance technologies, unmanned systems and resilient networks—all of which will pass through the future halls of the Marine Corps Wargaming and Analysis Center.
“When we begin wargaming and [perform] the analyses that will get you further resources to further ensure that the Marine Corps is ready for the threat,” said Smith. “When that happens … Marines are going to be better prepared to fight and thrive in combat because of the work done within this center.”
Leonard Blasiol, the requirements lead for the Wargaming Capability at CD&I, said the wargaming center will help the Marine Corps define and refine the future operating concepts that serve as the foundation for force development and redesign efforts.
“We require the capability to conduct wargames at the highest levels of classification, using the most sophisticated tools, and delivering data suitable for in-depth analysis,” said Blasiol. “The outcome will be a significant shift in the quality of decision support for our senior leaders.”
This facility will include a complex set of modeling and simulation, visualization, immersive and analytical tools to enhance wargaming activities.Sharleene Prieur, acting program manager for Marine Corps Systems Command's Wargaming Capability
Scheduled to open in 2024
Blasiol also spoke about the facility’s proximity to Washington D.C. He said the building’s location within National Capital Region facilitates participation in wargames by joint, interagency and multinational organizations.
“Further, the networking capability that will be resident in the Marine Corps Wargaming and Analysis Center will enable organizations and units located outside the D.C. area to remotely participate,” said Blasiol.
In 2020, Smith emphasized the importance of the wargaming center’s location near CD&I, Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, Marine Corps University and MCSC. He said a Quantico location ensures that the facility is, “easily accessible for all those in the National Capital Region who similarly need this capability.”
Day-to-day operations will be run by MCWL, the organization responsible for generating and examining capabilities and providing analytically supported recommendations to inform subsequent force design and development activities.
MCWL will assume the sustainment, funding and operational functions associated with the facility. William J. Lademan, Ph.D., technical director for the Wargaming Division at MCWL, believes the wargaming center will be integral to the Marine Corps’ ability to investigate hypotheticals, concepts and technologies.
“This dynamic allows the Marine Corps to explore the operational basis for success in warfare marked by multidomain, information-centric, time-constrained and distributed operations,” said Lademan. “The goal is to outpace adversaries by exploring the conceptual, technical, and operational basis for the Marine Corps’ success in a future naval campaign.”
Construction of the Marine Corps Wargaming and Analysis Center is scheduled for completion by summer 2023, said Prieur. The facility is slated to open in 2024 and should be fully equipped by 2025.