Pre-Exercise Overview

CASL works closely with sponsors to develop an exercise tailored to desired objectives and outcomes. Listed below are key issues to consider before developing an exercise.

Game Execution Cycle:

1.  Goal, Objectives, Questions and Desired Outcomes: 

Goal.  An exercise goal is the overarching purpose of the game and who it is for.  The goal answers two questions:  What does the exercise do?  Who is the exercise for? Example:  This exercise provides a forum for NDU students to examine the global economic and national security challenges that may face America in 2020. 

Objective(s).  Objectives describe what participants must do, in order to achieve the exercise goal.  Because they describe action, objectives are written using action verbs (i.e. consider, explore, examine, determine, imagine, validate, etc.) Examples: 

  • Explore the specific activities and policies, using all instruments of national power, which may mitigate these challenges.
  • Develop strategic-level policy options to advance U.S. interests in the global commons given the scenario presented and in a resource constrained environment.
  • Assess the extent to which current U.S. government organizational and management structures support or hinder the effective implementation of strategies, plans, and policies.

Questions.  Questions identify what participants must knowin order to fulfill one or more objectives.  Depending on the objective, one or more questions may be needed to inform it. Example: Develop strategic-level policy options to advance US. Interests in the global commons given the scenario presented and in a resource constrained environment.

  • What is the USG policy regarding freedom of navigation of the seas?
  • Given that the U.S. is not a signatory of UNCLOS, how can the U.S. effectively position itself as a global leader within the maritime domain?
  • What other policies might the U.S. consider in the maritime domain?  How effective might they be?
  • Given the scenario posited events, what elements of national power are available to influence those falling behind on their commitment to the Doha Protocol Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol?
  • What are the national security, economic security, financial, and resourcing implications to application of those elements of national power?
  • What are the intangibles that must be accounted for?

2. Event Structure and Methodology: CASL tailors the exercise approach based on the goals of the exercise.

Role Playing – Each participant is given a specific role and responds to a situation from the point of view of their respective position within each game cell. Game Cell Organization refers to how teams relate to one another. There are three main types:
             parallel: multiple teams playing similar roles exposes variety of response
             adversarial: pits teams against each other
             cooperative: teams work toward common goal or objective

Path – As a group, participants are presented an initial scenario. Reacting to the situation, participants develop a course of action. Based upon the course of action chosen, participants receive a “scenario update” with new game information to consider. Over time, the group creates its own path, since their decisions affect the overall direction of the game. This type of game is particularly useful for reviewing political, economic, diplomatic and military strategies.

Policy – Participants are brought together in their professional capacity to pool their expertise and discuss issues. A set of scenarios on a topic is presented, and participants establish key issues and collaborate on policy recommendations.

Process – Participants simulate the interagency decision process. Given a scenario, the group acts as an Interagency Policy Committee to highlight coordination limitations and capabilities.

3. Scenario: CASL tailors the scenario approach based on the goals of the exercise.

4. Execution: CASL works with the sponsor to execute the logistics of the exercise most effectively.

5. Analysis: CASL staff write an after action report which captures stakeholder’s comments and key takeaways from the exercise dialogue and/or capture how the exercise allowed students to achieve the exercise and learning objectives, including both the positives and the areas for improvement in the future. Formal AARs are generally provided one to two months after an exercise, depending on requirements.

6. Lessons Learned: Following the capture of survey data regarding the best and least successful elements of the exercise, as provided by the students, as well as any feedback received from the professors and those items noted by CASL staff, CASL develops courses of action to eliminate, minimize, or mitigate exercise shortcomings and incorporate those courses of action into future exercise design and delivery.

Questions for CASL Partners to Consider when Soliciting an Exercise:

1. What are your organization’s objectives and expectations of the exercise (i.e., what do you want to achieve)?

2. What are the key issues you would like students or other stakeholders to discuss during the exercise? What are the topical boundaries of this exercise? What is the scope and scale of this exercise (how broad of an issue focus or direct focus do you want)?

3. Are there topics which should be avoided?

4. Are there gaps or areas of disagreement in the coordination of policies that would merit exploration?

5. Are there any non-governmental persons that we should consider either inviting to participate or consulting with during exercise development?

6. What other Department/Agency personnel should we consult with? (Who else NEEDS a say in the development process?) If you want to use Role Playing, what Departments/Agencies MUST be represented by the students/participants?

7. Many decisions about the scope of the objectives, core questions, scenario and participants will be put to you as we plan the exercise; who would you like us to reach out to for such decisions?

8. What level of classification would you envision as being needed for a productive discussion?

What questions do you have for us? Please contact us using the “Contact Us” page.