Complex Contingency Operations
Planning Decision Support System
For Version 4.0
The War Gaming and Simulation Center
National Defense University of the United States
Ft. Leslie J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
Table of Contents
The Planning Decision Support System (PDSS) is a technological aid that serves to focus and guide the discussion of Interagency Complex Contingency Operations (ICCO) planning while encouraging creativity. This software tool was developed by the staff of the National Defense University (NDU) War Gaming and Simulation Center (WSGC) to facilitate the planning activities of interagency simulation participants. PDSS is designed to promote discussion, focus attention on the process, and shape the substance of the ICCO plan into a coordinated product. PDSS also can be used in real contingency planning exercises involving actual complex situations.
PDSS is a discussion capture and briefing tool with menus and branches structured to reflect the "Generic Pol-Mil Plan" (Appendix B) of the Interagency Complex Contingency Operations (ICCO) Handbook. PDSS facilitates interagency simulation players= progression through the planning process. It gives the simulation players a common ground on which to begin building the plan, and focuses their efforts in order to meet any time constraints. PDSS provides text screens for display of discussion points, reference materials, digital maps and icons, text file output, and standard Windows application capabilities such as File Save, Open and Close.
PDSS supports the planning requirements of the interagency community, with special focus on identifying lead entities for each phase and in each operational area. This focus is important to address the fluid nature of situations that require interagency responses. Each situation might call for an entirely different organizational structure from the previous. This differs from the deliberate planning process employed by the U.S. military in which lines of command remain fairly consistent from one contingency situation to another within any given regional command arena.
PDSS consists of two main sections, shown above. "Contingency Analysis", on the left of the screen, takes the user through a process by which top-level decision-makers examine a situation, interests, objectives, and options, and conclude by selecting a preferred option. It should be noted that the structure of this section is a general approach to decision-making and does not reflect an official U.S. Government functional process.
The right-hand section, "Contingency Planning" is the section in which most interagency simulation participants will do their work. The structure of this section reflects that of the "Generic Pol-Mil Plan" (Appendix B) of the ICCO Handbook.
To incorporate the fluidity of interagency requirements, PDSS allows users to alter its structure by changing the names of the plan phases, adding agencies and functional areas not included in the original, generic pol-mil plan, and adjusting the reference materials.
Thus the PDSS structured environment assists players representing diverse agency interests by providing them a "common ground" template within an environment which captures the flexibility and complexity of the interagency planning process.
The overriding design precept of the software interface is ease and familiarity of use. This means maximum use of standard Microsoft Windows Apoint and click@ functions: pull-down menus such as AFile@ (Save, Exit, ...), AEdit@ (Copy, Paste, ...), pop-up windows (maps), ANext@ and APrev@ navigation buttons, and pull-down and context-sensitive Help.
For users who wish to export PDSS text into word-processing programs, PDSS provides a "Reports" function. This capability allows export of all of the PDSS user's text into an ASCII text file which can then be accessed by any standard word-processing application. Players can copy text from any word-processing application file (SaveAS an ASCII format) and use the PDSS APaste@ function to place the copied text back into the PDSS screens.
WGSC has plans to incorporate additional enhancements to the PDSS on a continuing basis in recognition of the evolutionary nature of the PDD-56 interagency training program. The next version will be released following modifications to the generic pol-mil plan that are expected as the ICCO handbook and training program evolve. Comments and suggestions from users are welcome. They can be sent to the address listed on the last page of this guide.
PDSS is delivered on four diskettes. Make the following selections to start installation:
The installation program will prompt you for selections. The first time PDSS is installed, "Full" installation with default choices is recommended.
Conceptually, PDSS is structured like a book, with a title page, table of contents, and subsequent pages grouped into chapters. Three means of navigation through the pages are available: buttons (Exit, Main Menu, Reference, Next, Prev[ious]), the Main Menu page, and some of the options on the menubar at the top of the monitor screen.
- ANext>@ navigates to the next page.
Main MenuAll pages except the Main Menu (the table of contents) page have two buttons in the lower left corner: the AExit@ button saves current data and exits PDSS. The AMain Menu@ button takes you to the Main Menu of PDSS.
Once into the body of PDSS, each page has three buttons in the lower right corner of the screen:
- AReference@ displays a pop-up window with background information for that section of the PDSS analysis or planning process;
- A<Prev@ navigates to the previous page;
When PDSS is started, the first screen displayed is the title page. Clicking on the AMain Menu@ button in the lower left corner of the screen displays the PDSS Main Menu (the table of contents).
The two large sections of the Main Menu display the chapter headings. For chapters containing only one page, clicking on the chapter heading will bring up that page. Most chapters, however, contain several pages. In these cases, clicking on the chapter heading will display a submenu, permitting navigation directly to any of the pages in that chapter by clicking on the page heading.
Navigation Between Multiple Text Fields on One Page Some of the PDSS pages contain multiple text fields, similar to tabbed file folders. Each field is displayed by clicking on its labeled tab, as shown in the illustration below.
PDSS provides ten map screens, each of which can be displayed in a pop-up window by clicking on the Maps option of the top menubar. Once a map is selected from the ten listed, and the pop-up window appears, any of the other maps can be displayed by clicking on the AMaps@ menu option in the Map pop-up window as well.
A sample of digitized maps (in Windows Metafile format) is distributed with PDSS, and is automatically loaded on your computer when PDSS is installed. However, you can add to this collection using any graphics application that is capable of creating graphic files.
When PDSS is first installed, sample maps will be loaded in the map pages, and the two pull-down menus (from the primary PDSS screen and the pop-up map screen) list menu options labeled AMap 1", AMap 2", etc.
To import a new map:
PDSS provides a variety of map icons on a multi-page palette. Once placed on the map, the icons can be moved, resized, rotated (lines and arrows), have descriptive information added to them and, in the case of the AText@ icon, the text color, size and background can be varied.
To add icons:
To move icons:
To move an icon, place the cursor on it, hold down the left mouse button, and drag the icon to the new position. Note: for the AText Box@ icon, the cursor must be placed over the frame area.
To resize icons:
To resize an icon, place the cursor on it, hold down the right mouse button, and drag the corner of the icon to the new size. This is also how the line and arrow icons are rotated. Note: for the AText Box@ icon, the cursor must be placed over the frame area.
Each icon except the AText Box@ icon has a pop-up window associated with it in which text information can be placed. For example, with a Aunit@ icon, information can be entered about the unit's name, size and readiness. To display this pop-up window, place the cursor over the icon and double-click the left mouse button.
To place text on maps:
To place text on the map that is not associated with a particular icon, and that is visible at all times, use the AText Box@ icon. This icon consists of a white text field surrounded by a thin white frame. When the cursor is moved over the editable text field, the cursor changes into the I-bar format. When it is over the frame, it reverts back to the standard arrow. The AText Box@ icon has several unique features:
Print maps using the APrint@ menubar option. There are two suboptions:
With the "Save", "Save As" and "Open" menu options, found under the "File" menu option, text and map data can be saved to a file on a diskette. This file can ten be transferred to other computers that have PDSS installed on them, in much the same way that, for example, a Microsoft WordJ document can transferred to any computer that has the Microsoft Word application.
Some game players might want to save the text data from PDSS for later use, but do not have their own copy of the PDSS application with which to open their PDSS game file. In this case, the AReports@ function can be used. This function creates a simple ASCII text file of all the text in the user screens, formatted into numbered paragraphs with the appropriate paragraph titles. This file can then be opened and edited with any word processor.
To create Report files:
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT PDSS, PLEASE CONTACT: