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A (not so) New Way to Train Strategic Corporals

Battle-Wise Strategic Corporals

In their book Battle-Wise , authors Gompert, Lachow, and Perkins state that “the unstoppable spread of information networking and know-how gives rise to the need for a new edge-one that utilizes but transcends networks-by developing people, teams, and decision making methods that convert information into better choices and outcomes. We call this new edge “battle-wisdom.”. In their book, they state that “Decision games can strengthen intuition, even in unfamiliar situations, and enhance understanding of mental models. Likewise, specific training can increase the quality and speed of analytic methods.”

As such, our “Strategic Corporals” need to train differently. Well perhaps, not so differently. There is an old dictum that says “Fight as you train – train as you fight”. This has to apply to the decision making tools that they utilize. Not just where to click in the application, but how to make good decisions.

Hans raised a good point is a Is Empowering the Strategic Corporal the Way to Achieve Agility?, “Today at home these strategic corporals have access and use extensively the latest technologies & collaboration tool on the internet, whether playing online games…”. The new cohort of recruits has grown up playing video games.


The HEC Montreal has developed an innovative approach to teach the students about decision making in an SAPERP environment. Using a turn-based simulation approach, students are put in a situation in which they have to run their business with a real-life SAP ERP. Teams of five to six students each operate a firm in a made-to-order manufacturing supply chain and must interact with supplier and customer teams by sending and receiving orders, delivering their products and completing the whole cash-to-cash cycle. A simulation program and computer-automated script were developed to automate the sales process, so that every firm receives a large number of orders in each period of the simulation. Using standard reports, students must analyze these transactional data to make business decisions and ensure the profitability of their operations. This business simulation is set to last seven weeks (half a regular semester) and concludes with a full day of business simulation game that stands for the mid-term exam.


The very interesting part here is the realism built into the simulation is that it uses real SAP ERP transaction and analytics to provide the students (i.e. strategic corporals) the mechanisms to make decisions. ERPSim takes care of automating the necessary processes to complete the actions stemming from the decisions. For further details, I suggest you visit the ERPSim web site.

Applying ERPSim Concepts to Defense

Turn-based simulation games in the military are certainly not new. Dr Michael Macedonia (former Chief Scientist at the US Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation) in his paper titled “Games, Simulations, and the Military Education Dilemma” points out that many US DoD training and education centers have embraced commercial simulations. Notable examples he cites include Jane’s Fleet Command used at the Naval War College, and TACOPS at the Armored Center at Ft Knox to battalion and company war gaming.

What is new is the application of this concept to ERP. Imagine now that you have implemented the Support for Flight Operations process in SAP ERP 2005. In a very simple simulated environment, the flight planner (i.e. the strategic corporal) would use the information provided such as aircraft availability, remaining flight hours, current operational configuration, etc by the SAP ERP to assign aircraft to Air Tasking Orders (ATO) coming from a simulated Battle Management System. The simulation environment would also provide when the aircraft would take off and land along with the condition it comes back in. As well, the instructors could inject challenging situations through the simulator to exercise the student decision making skills. For example, mechanical failure in an aircraft, a flight that takes significantly longer to execute, a pilot that not fly due to illness, etc.

With the aid of an instructor, the decision making skills of the flight planner would be refined to better schedule and allocate aircrafts to the ATOs to meet the operational demands based on the information provided in the ERP. Similarly, at the conclusion of the training, flight planners could compete against each other using the same simulation scenario and see who is the best! In the end, this flight planner (i.e. strategic corporal) would certainly be more agile than if they only took traditional ERP training.

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