NATO commanders in Afghanistan want a virtual version of the country, to test out battle plans and forecast future unrest.

Afghanistan’s often-explosive mix of tribal, ethnic and religious power politics has been catching outsiders off-guard for the last couple-thousand years. This time around, America and her western allies are trying two controversial, competing approaches, to prepare for the surprises. One embeds in combat units social scientists, trained in making foreign cultures more understandable. The other dumps everything that’s known about the country into a software model — and then watches what develops in this Sim Afghanistan.

Last last week, NATO began its search for for the newest “simulation capability.” This one should “be able to model the Afghanistan engagement space in the Political, Military, Economic, Social, Infrastructure and Information (PMESII) domains,” a call for white papers notes. With all that information in hand, war planners can then “assess and validate how specific future events or actions could impact on the current situation through the creation and simulation of a hypothetical/simulated environment.”

Full Story: Danger Room

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