Superiority Through Better Decision Making (SUPERCISION™)

Superiority Through Better Decision Making (SUPERCISION™) uses data mining, Bayesian nets, situation theory, and commercial gaming technologies to support the assessment and improvement of decision making skills in training systems.  SUPERCISION™ methods and tools improve scenario-based training and reduce the time and effort needed to create tailored training scenarios.

A frequently quoted maxim from the Army’s 100-5 Operations Field Manual states:  “Effective decision making combines judgment with information as an element of combat power:  it requires knowing if to decide, when to decide, and what to decide.”

In keeping with these demands, KBSI developed–in conjunction with subject matter experts from the military, industry, and academia–methods and tools for helping the Army to more accurately assess individual decision-making effectiveness and for training military decision makers with the goal of improving their decision-making skills.  The SUPERCISION™ initiative applied KBSI’s expertise in data mining, Bayesian nets, and situation theory (along with the novel use of commercial gaming technologies) in developing a training system to support battlespace superiority through better decision making.

In the first phase of the initiative, KBSI produced a new methodology for conducting decision problems-based training and evaluation and a prototype software tool for demonstrating this methodology.  The Battlespace SUPERCISION™ methodology and tool provide an unprecedented ability for conducting scenario-based training and for significantly reducing the time and effort needed to create tailored training scenarios that meet the needs of individual trainees and the objectives of the training exercise.  This technology greatly alleviated instructor overload and helped the Army to significantly reduce the training costs that accrue from time-intensive training scenario development and analysis.

At the center of this functionality is the concept of the Electronic Training Jacket (ETJ), which stores data concerning an individual’s training history.  The EJT lists, classifies, dynamically organizes, and rates different elements that both trainers and their trainees are interested in tracking (e.g., certification levels, training segments or courses completed, observed states of Bayesian net model elements, etc.).  The use of individualized EJTs allows trainers to build an ever-expanding library of training scenarios that can be rapidly reconfigured to meet the demands of a trainee or mission critical objective, or can be reconfigured as “templates” for creating entirely new scenarios.

One approach that was investigated is the application of today’s video gaming technologies as a means for evaluating and further developing decision-maker capabilities.  KBSI studied game scenarios that could help training subjects to recognize and cope with various decision traps and otherwise refine their decision-making skills.  The advantage of gaming technology is the ability to use time compression in exposing trainees to greater numbers and types of scenarios and in identifying and illustrating errors, including techniques for recording game play to illustrate both good and poor decision-making.

The prototype SUPERCISION™ tool developed by KBSI in conjunction with the Air Force Research Laboratory was tested in focused demonstrations.  The demonstrations helped to identify scenarios involving decision-making in representative domains of interest and to elicit user requirements for further development.  The SUPERCISION™ technology helped the Army to greatly reduce the time, effort, and cost of creating training scenarios, to develop training that focuses more directly on training goals, and to help the Army achieve improved decision making and battlespace dominance.