New ICAR Course Analyzes Terrorism through Military Gaming

Posted: January 11, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Fran Rensbarger

The Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR) is collaborating this semester with the Joint Military Intelligence College (JMIC) of the U.S. Department of Defense to present a course in the resolution of conflicts involving terrorism using military gaming simulations.

In addition to assessing the causes of international conflict and terrorism, CONF 695 Gaming Conflict and Terrorism will address understanding organizational culture, worldview, and decision-making styles; peacekeeping, coalition building, and conflict termination; and media’s influence on conflict and terrorism.

The course, anchored by Dennis J.D. Sandole, ICAR professor of conflict resolution and international relations, will be taught at the Arlington Campus by Cdr. Frances Omori, USN, an ICAR PhD student who usually teaches the course for the Joint Defense Intelligence School at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.

Guest lecturers, in addition to ICAR and JMIC faculty, will include academics and professionals in conflict resolution, intelligence, policy making, and the military who will present perspectives from their own communities and engage students in discussions. Students will also receive briefings for the games by representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugee, and Migration, and similar agencies.

This first jointly taught class offers students an opportunity to be involved with games played at the Naval War College (NWC), Joint Forces Staff College, and the Army War College. The first round of games will be tabletop role-playing simulations, but in the second game, students will take the roles of decision makers who will be “in a country of conflict”—so all players will have their “boots on the ground,” says Omori.

“Game simulations provide a chance for students to role-play the process of making decisions in response to an international conflict, which hopefully leads to a better understanding of the challenges faced by all concerned in such a task,” says Omori.

A voluntary pilot game held last year gave ICAR and JMIC students the first opportunity to work with each other. With different academic and professional backgrounds, both sides brought different philosophies, values, ideas, and information to the game. Both JMIC and ICAR students gained new insights into analyzing and resolving issues collaboratively. Students were surprised to find how much they had in common, Omori says.

The class, which is limited to 50, is open to graduate students enrolled in Mason, JMIC, and NWC. For more information, contact Lisa Nolder at 703-993-3650.

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