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AFIMSC uses gamers to develop combat tactics

  • Published
  • By Malcolm McClendon
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center invited public gamers to take part in a series of tournaments designed to help the Department of the Air Force develop combat tactics by analyzing players’ decision-making processes in realistic battlefield scenarios.

Called GameX23 Drone Guardians, the final event in a three-location series of tournaments took place Oct. 21 in San Antonio. 

“The outcomes are intended to give us a better understanding of installation and mission support challenges and provide insight on how to best invest resources in support of national defense,” said Col. Curt Juell, deputy director for AFIMSC’s Installation Support Directorate. “Opening this event up to players who are not affiliated with the service offers a different perspective to solving problems and overcoming challenges that could lend value to future strategy development and defense investments.”

GameX is an initiative under an AFIMSC contract with MITRE, a nonprofit national security company. Tournaments also took place at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, in September and McLean, Virginia, for National Capital Region participation earlier in October. 

During the tournaments, teams of five had to defend deployed locations from attack while continuing to generate fighter aircraft missions in various scenarios. They had to make critical decisions, such as whether to prioritize readying aircraft for launch or defending the air base. Providing challenges on multiple fronts, the game required a mix of first-person shooter, strategy and puzzle-solving skills for teams to be successful.

Close to 100 players participated at all three locations.

“Being part of this tournament and knowing that my gameplay has the potential to help the Air Force with their national defense efforts is a huge honor,” said GameX Tournament Gamer, Aiden Beach. “I’ve always held military members in such high regard, but this game play has given me even a higher respect for what they do every day to protect our bases.”

The value of these tournaments is twofold, Juell said.

“It not only provides us with valuable insight but exposes the public to a military-like environment and interactions with Airmen and Guardians that may be new to them, which may indirectly support future recruitment efforts,” he said. 

Players’ responses will help AFIMSC planners see where process and decision-making gaps exist and identify ways to close those gaps and decrease the time it takes to execute critical missions, Juell added. MITRE’s consolidated findings and the data and recommendations they provide to AFIMSC will ultimately support strategy development, planning and programming processes, and investment decisions for the Air Force-wide installation and mission support community.

“Here at AFIMSC, we’re always looking for innovative ways to incorporate data-driven processes in our efforts to increase lethality and readiness across the Department of the Air Force,” Juell said. “GameX is just one tool in the many ways we are revolutionizing base lethality, prioritizing our Airmen and Guardian readiness, and integrating air base command and control.”