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Operations Research and Management Science for Military Decision Making

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[Princeton University]


- Overview

Operations research (OR) is a discipline that uses mathematical optimization, statistics, forecasting, and machine learning to solve problems. 

Operations Research was first used in World War II to help high-level decision makers analyze alternatives for strategic ground, air, and maritime operations. 


- Military Applications of Operations Research

The military exclusively uses operations research (OR) at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. These applications cover the full range of military activities, including national policy analysis, resource allocation, force composition and modernization, logistics, human resources, operational planning, and maintenance and resupply. 

Operations research (OR) is a discipline that involves building models to solve optimization problems. In the military, OR can be used for a variety of activities, including: 

  • Selecting and acquiring weapons
  • Evaluating tactical plans
  • Designing and developing weapon systems
  • National policy analysis
  • Resource allocation
  • Force composition and modernization
  • Logistics
  • Human resources
  • Battle planning
  • Maintenance and replenishment

Operation Research can also be used for threat identification and identifying possible counter-actions. For example, during the Cold War, strategies from The Game of Chickens and The Prisoner's Dilemma were analyzed and applied to the Cuban missile crisis

The Operations Research/Systems Analysis (ORSA) functional area includes a variety of disciplines, such as: 

  • Personnel management
  • Doctrine and force development
  • Training management
  • System testing
  • System acquisition
  • Decision analysis
  • Resource management
  • Tactical, operational, and strategic planning

The ORSA functional area has fewer than 450 authorized slots, making the application process competitive. 

[Dinant, Belgium - dsstreetart]

- The Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS)

The Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) is a secure communications network being developed by the U.S. Air Force to improve command and control. 

ABMS uses cloud computing and new communications methods to allow Air Force and Space Force systems to share data. The goal is to provide battlefield commanders with the information they need to make faster, better decisions.

ABMS is part of the Pentagon's Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concept. JADC2 seeks to connect sensors and shooters and distribute data to all domains (air, land, sea, cyber and space).

Since 2018, the Air Force has been working to reorganize and advance the ABMS program. In 2022, the Air Force has selected five companies to join the ABMS Digital Infrastructure Alliance. These companies are L3Harris, Northrop Grumman, Leidos, Raytheon and SAIC.


- Space Battle Management System

Space battle management is a tactical system that ensures forces operating satellites or ground-based sensors work together and understand their surroundings. The Space Development Agency (SDA) is testing the Battle Management, Command, Control and Communications (BMC3) software module on its first batch of transport layer data relay satellites. 

The BMC3 software module will provide automated space-based combat management through command and control, tasking, mission processing and dissemination.

Space Operations Command (SpOC) is the first field command of the U.S. Space Force. SpOC's mission is to protect the United States and its allies in, from, and to space. U.S. Space Command was established in late 2019 to plan, execute and integrate military space power into global operations.


[More to come ...]



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