Historical analysis of the Battle of Little Bighorn utilizing the Joint Conflict and Tactical Simulation (JCATS)
Pecha, Keith E.
Charlebois, Michael A.
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The purpose of this thesis is to determine which of three competing theories of what occurred at the Battle of Little Bighorn is the most plausible by utilizing the Joint Conflict and Tactical Simulation (JCATS) program developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. There are many practical gains that JCATS can provide today's military with regard to training and educating soldiers for future conflicts. JCATS can be used to train soldiers in planning and executing missions in ways not feasible with conventional field training exercises utilizing live bodies and real vehicles. It is also increasingly being used for actual mission planning. However, very little has been done using JCATS to war-game past operations. There are two points to be gained by using JCATS to model a historical battle such as the Battle of Little Bighorn. First, it validates the ability of JCATS to accurately model actual historical scenarios while identifying many of the specific limitations of the program. If the military is going to use computer simulations such as JCATS in lieu of field training exercises to train soldiers, it must first be determined if the program produces realistic results. Modeling an actual battle and comparing the results of the program with what actually occurred is one means of doing so. Second, modeling historical battles, particularly defeats, may assist in discovering lessons learned. In a field training exercise, a defeated force can be brought back to life and given another opportunity to apply the lessons learned from its previous defeat. Real battles afford no such opportunity. Computer modeling of past battles would allow military planners to isolate individual events and decisions and study their impact on the outcome.
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