The NATO Urbanisation Wargame 2016 at the NATO Defense College, 28 Sep-7 Oct 2016


Being warmly hosted and supported in the welcoming and international NATO Defence College premises from September 29th to October 7th 2016, the NATO Modelling & Simulation Centre of Excellence organized the Allied Command Transformation (ACT) – led NATO Urbanisation Wargame. This activity followed up the 2015 experimentation activity and was supported by another year-long planning and preparation process made up with workshops, meetings and laboratory work. Based on a request by several NATO nations in 2014 the Military Committee tasked ACT to develop a Conceptual Study on Urbanisation to support the NATO Strategic Foresight Analysis and Framework for Future Alliance Operations. This will ultimately feed the NATO Defence Planning Process through the development of new theories and capabilities to support future NATO operations in an urban environment.
The initial Urbanisation Conceptual Study was developed in Mar 2015 and forwarded to the Military Committee and NATO Nations for comment and further guidance on the ideas, proposals and future capabilities identified. Based on these recommendations, the Military Committee tasked the Bi-Strategic Commanders (BI-SCs) to look at the military response options and capability discussions for “High Intensity Conflict” through an urban wargame.

The aim of the Urban Wargame was to examine current and future capabilities in a joint full spectrum urban operation, in order to provide recommendations for further Conceptual development and insights for a Joint Urban Doctrine. The wargame activity developed taking into account an overall scenario in which a NATO force, conducted a joint forcible entry operation into a large coastal city, urban operations and stability operations opposed by a conventional military force from a neighbouring country. Following the successful landing operation, the enemy conventional force dropped back to a hybrid/irregular warfare mode. After the warfare end and the re-establishment of a peace situation, a large-scale industrial facility created a major chemical venting incident generating mass casualties, widespread destruction and panicked movement of the population away from the affected area, with a concurrent widespread breakdown in urban order and essential functions.

The situations mentioned above are not predicting the future threat environment but they give a simple projection of current conditions as a baseline for experimental analysis, also envisaging social and technological changes in the living conditions of an average coastal urban megalopolis.
The Urban Wargame objectives were:
a. to assess whether the proposed future capabilities in the conceptual study meet the desired effect.
b. To assess the identified capability gaps in the Conceptual Study.
c. To identify the key weaknesses in capability across the Doctrine, Operations, Training, Leadership, Material, Personnel, Facilities and Interoperability (DOTLMPFI) framework.
d. To identify which current capabilities we need to retain.
e. To identify possible new courses of action and the degree of the achievability of each task.

In accordance with the complex scenario on the 2035 city of ‘Archaria’ originally created to provide a future operating environment, the M&S COE newly developed and improved a 2D/3D city model to help the visualization of Archaria urban characteristics and provide the wargame participants with a realistic environment to develop the courses of action for the effective management of NATO Forces. A cross-functional team from ACT led the wargame event together with the M&S COE, again involving representatives from several NATO Nations, Allied Command Operations, other Centres of Excellence, U.S. Marine Corps, Universities, International Organisations, Non-Government Organisations, the Norfolk, VA Police and National Research & Development Centres. The SHAPE Vice Chief of Staff, LTG Michel YAKOVLEFF, observed the wargame activity and provided his view on future developments
The NATO Urbanisation Conceptual Study will be delivered to the NATO Military Committee by the end of March 2017. A new experiment programme, enriched by the lessons learned and new capabilities identified is being considered for 2017.