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IT2EC 2023: Simulation is a key enabler of multi-domain operations, says Dutch navy leader

24th April 2023 - 16:45 GMT | by Giles Ebbutt in Rotterdam


There is already a detailed virtual model of the RNLN’s new support ship, Den Helder, which is under construction, so crews can begin training ahead of its delivery. (Image: Damen)

The Royal Netherlands Navy's Cdre Jeanette Morang highlighted how simulation now allows training for complex multi-domain scenarios that are impractical to replicate in full in the real world.

Simulation can play a vital part in training for multi-domain operations (MDO) in today’s increasingly uncertain and complex environment, Cdre Jeanette Morang, Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) and Commander Netherlands Maritime Force (COMNLMARFOR) said in the opening keynote address at the IT2EC event in Rotterdam today.

She noted that the full definition of MDO is the ’orchestration of military activity across all domains and environments, synchronised with non-military activity, to deliver the convergence of effects at the speed of relevance’.

Preparing to face this complex task, she said, is helped by the dramatic improvement in modelling and simulation technology which now permits complete immersion in the complex environment, enables the rehearsal of missions and can incorporate enemy reaction.

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She observed that using a virtual environment can overcome safety and environmental constraints, citing recent examples from a major NATO exercise where the use of particular amphibious landing sites had been restricted.

Morang also emphasised the importance of networking, noting that security issues posed particular problems. She noted that NATO ‘is making a big push on interoperability, data standards, common services and standards for interoperability’, which is being led by the NATO Modelling and Simulation Group. 

She noted that the Netherlands had instituted a defence installation platform which mandates modelling and simulation standards across the enterprise.

Procurement programmes should always include modelling and simulation from the start, Morang said, noting that there was already a detailed virtual model of the RNLN’s new support ship under construction in Romania. 

This allows future crew members to familiarise themselves with the vessel before its arrival and undertake initial training. 'They already have a good understanding of what they will have to do,’ she said.

Morang also noted the importance of battle labs which can be networked to explore both tactics and doctrine. The Netherlands has done this to support the development of ballistic missile defence efforts.

Finally, she said that while the focus on training at the tactical level was important, to achieve multi-domain integration there is a need to aim higher. ‘To achieve converging effect you need to bring information in from many directions. There will be so much of this over such a broad spectrum that you will need simulation to determine the best course of action’. 

That means, she said, that ‘we will need to trust the results from the computers’.

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Giles Ebbutt


Giles Ebbutt

Giles Ebbut is a Shephard Media correspondent based in the UK who specialises in C4ISR …

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