USSOUTHCOM uses SimulationDeck to Rehearse Mass Migration Protocols

  • The Challenge

    United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) hosted Integrated Advance 2017 (IA17) to exercise strategic communications and public affairs coordination at the federal, state, and local government levels during a mass migration operation. Exercise planners also hoped to evaluate the ability of participants to gather and exchange data and information in a way that enabled timely and informed decision making.

    IA17 exercise planners needed a way to simulate the realities, complexities, and reactive-adaptive nature of a rapidly evolving information environment.

  • The Approach

    Leveraging a new US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) purchasing vehicle, USSOUTHCOM acquired SimulationDeck to model the dynamic, realistic information environment that would be available online during a mass migration. Planners then disseminated this content to a distributed training audience to build situational awareness, gather open-source intelligence, and compile a more complete common operating picture.

    Members of the training audience were located in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Miami, Florida; and Suffolk, Virginia. They accessed SimulationDeck concurrently to monitor simulated online sources of information, including newspapers, radio, television news channels, blogs, and social media sites similar to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

  • The Unexpected Opportunity

    A key learning experience for USSOUTHCOM was the ability of the intelligence community to effectively leverage open-source intelligence in the information environment to inform operational decision-making. During the exercise, controllers used SimulationDeck’s social media analogs to realistically model real-time social media chatter about illicit activities.

    Using SimulationDeck’s social media mapping tools, controllers even artificially geo-located some posts to various international locations. By interspersing this content with inconsequential posts from other simulated social media users, exercise controllers evaluated the ability of the training audience to identify and react to operationally-relevant intelligence.


“During our exercise, this media emulation tool added an invaluable sense of realism. Users considered the tool to be effective in replicating the wide-ranging attitudes, opinions and sentiments routinely expressed by a wide spectrum of users commonly encountered in present-day sources of public information. The tool made it possible for communicators to exercise the review, evaluation, and analysis of simulated public interest and reaction to their public information efforts. It has the capability to illuminate potential areas of communication concern and refine communication strategies."

Richard A Crusan, XO/Plans & Ops Specialist,
U.S. Southern Command