8th Command: Professional Edition User Conference - Stafford, VA
Matrix Games, LLC hosted the 8th Annual Command: Professional Edition User Conference outside the gates of Marine Corps Base Quantico from 13-17 September 2021. The five days event included a host of in person and virtual users of the Command software, in a week focused on helping the defense community get the most from this incredibly powerful software. Event host Iain McNeil, Director of Development for Matrix Games said “this event gets bigger and better each year, and one of the most important aspects of the event is the ideas shared between our community, not just the information we share with them.”
Participants in this year’s event represented over 35 different defense organizations, and in a first for the event, members of Matrix’s Command development team led parallel sessions for beginner and advanced users. This year’s topics included creating scenarios, editing the database, Lua scripting, Monte Carlo mode, mechanics overrides, running via the Command Line Interface and more.
Dimitris Dranidis, lead developer and “father” of Command, led several discussions, including an overview of Matrix’s plans for future development of the Command Platform. These improvements include enhancements to Command’s land warfare capability (a.k.a. Project Hannibal), the amphibious operations planner, manned-unmanned teaming, improvements to communications networks, as well as backend developments that will bring a 64-bit version of Command and all the possibilities that come with it.
Rory Anderson, technical lead, previewed the new real-time multiplayer mode for Command, which allows real-time vectoring of Command entities to support your team and defeat your opponent with up to 16 players simultaneously. While there’s still significant work to be done before this is complete, Rory and the team connected three systems to the server, an umpire and a red and blue side, and started the game. While the two sides fought for supremacy in the skies, the umpire was tracking not only the battle, but could also see exactly where red and blue’s attention was by showing both where their focus and their mouse were on the map in real-time.
In addition to presentations from Matrix, attendees both formally and informally shared how they are using Command to meet their objectives across a wide range of areas, including: concept development, wargaming, education, and logistics analysis.
German Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Silier showed how the Luftwaffe uses Command to augment the Air Force Academy’s Air Power lessons for new officers. Their methodology has won awards in Germany and has inspired many of the Academy’s students to fight their own battles using Command in the school’s wargaming club.
Ryan Reeder from the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab showed how they use Command as part of its concept development efforts. The Lab has been driving some key new features that have been developed for command including the Amphibious Landing Planner and Passive Coherent Location Systems.
Ryan McKendrick from Northrup Grumman shared how Command has served as the training environment for it’s Artificial Intelligence in DARPA’s Gamebreaker Challenge. He talked about the innovative techniques being used and the impressive results after looking at 200 quadrillion variants (that’s a 2 with 15 zeros after it).
LtCol Doug Downey shared how Marine Corps University’s Command and Staff College uses Command to support the school’s education of majors and lieutenant colonels in learning the Marine Corps Decision Making Process. Under the supervision of military faculty and retired senior USMC leaders, students prepare plans and orders for simulation and adjudication in Command by expert operators. In coordination with MCU staff, the expert operators execute these orders and provide outcomes and situation updates to the students the next day so they can plan for the next wargame turn.
In addition to Command users, the event’s location near Marine Corps Base Quantico and in the Washington, D.C. area provided an opportunity for several distinguished visitors to attend. MajGen Julian D. Alford, Commanding General for USMC Training Command was given a demonstration of Command and provided the attendees with some remarks on the value of the right tool for training. Also visiting the event was Colonel Scott Gilman, Deputy Director of the U.S. Army Modeling and Simulation Office. His team attended to learn more about Command and to discuss setting up a US franchise of the wargaming-for-education focused “Fight Club” in the United Kingdom. Fight Club is a bottom-up initiative that uses commercial off the shelf wargames, including two of Matrix Games’ products, Combat Mission and Flashpoint Campaigns, to improve military thinking.
“The combination of topics and contributions from our attendees made this our best event yet,” said an exhausted JD McNeil, Business Director for Matrix Games, “and we are already looking forward to our next one.”