CASL History

Prior to 1984, all exercises and games conducted at the colleges of the National Defense University were written and conducted by stand-alone units within the colleges who had the ancillary responsibility of researching, writing, and delivering these exercises.  Therefore, in 1984, the War Gaming and Simulation Center (WGSC) was founded at the National Defense University.  WGSC was responsible for the design and delivery of all experiential events associated with the colleges across the NDU, Ft. McNair campus.  At this time, the WGSC exercises focused primarily on politico-military exercises via use of tabletop exercises and traditional “blue vs. red” scenarios. 

Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Vice Admiral Gaffney, NDU President, was determined to ensure that the WGSC become a true national asset for strategic level exercises.  So, in 2002, given this directive, the War Gaming and Simulation Center was transformed into the National Strategic Gaming Center (NSGC) where it became responsible for not only providing national strategic-level exercises in support of the JPME mission of NDU, but also providing exercise design and delivery assistance to the warfighter via exercises for the Combatant Commands, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the White House, and Congress. 

In 2007, after NSGC moved into its new spaces in the newly completed Abraham Lincoln Hall, CASL again was asked to transform itself in order to ensure the NDU student experience not only complied with all OPMEP requirements for exercises, but also took advantage of the active/experiential learning techniques associated with adult learners.  As the mission was refined, the NSGC took the opportunity to look at what it was really executing in support of the colleges and renamed itself – Center for Applied Strategic Learning (CASL) which better captures the essence of what the students are asked to do during their time at NDU; specifically apply the lessons they have learned at NDU to strategic level experiential learning activities.

In 2013, CASL and the Joint Forces Staff College Wargaming Center were merged in order to further integrate national strategic and high operational exercises and across the entire National Defense University enterprise.  As such, CASL is comprised of two divisions, one at the JFSC Campus in Norfolk, and one at historic Ft. McNair.  

Simulations Division

The CASL Simulation Division is located on the Norfolk Campus of the National Defense University.  The Division operates, schedules and provides exercise support in the Congressman Owen Pickett Wargaming Center.  The Division performs simulation application integration into the NDU curricula; maintains Wargame database version control; and adapts war game scenarios to meet curricula objectives. The Division advises curriculum developers and faculty game directors on wargaming capabilities and techniques, while providing exercise/simulation expertise to the University curricula writers for course materials supporting joint operational planning simulations and the wargame portions of the JPME curricula.  In order to accomplish its mission, the Division maintains liaison with other DoD and civilian Universities and research centers, the Joint Staff J-7 (Exercises), NATO Supreme Allied Command Transformation and Combatant Commands that use computer-assisted simulations to support curriculum, exercise or research events.

Wargaming Division

The Wargaming Division officially stood up in July 2013, as an outgrowth of the new NDU mission provided by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff which directed NDU to ensure primary focus was on JPME delivery.  As such, the two prior divisions within CASL’s North Campus were combined and became what is today, the Wargaming Division.  Prior to this time, the two divisions focused on specific colleges within the National Defense University as well as different and specific external partner organizations. But, with the Wargaming Division, CASL has been able to maximize its staff’s potential by ensuring that all design and delivery of experiential learning activities are consistent in complexity and “feel” across the University elements, all while ensuring that requesting college partner’s widely varied learning objectives for the students are best met.