Kirtland Air Force Base unveils WARS Lab

Wargaming and Advanced Research Simulation, Kirtland Air Force Base – Photo by Master Sgt. Wolfram Stumpf, 377th Air Base Wing

By John Leacock,
Published by Albuqurque Journal, 19 March 2024

It’s AI and computers, yes, but humans remain in the loop

It was reveal day at Kirtland Air Force Base.

The Air Force Research Laboratory unveiled its stateof- the-art WARS Lab on Monday. WARS is an acronym that describes the basic activity of the project: Wargaming and Advanced Research Simulation Laboratory.

About a hundred people, including scientists, engineers, base officials and representatives of the state’s congressional delegation, were on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the $7 million, nearly 11,000-squarefoot facility, which will focus on wargaming and advanced technology concepts.

The WARS Lab’s shiny new interior features a massive display wall and 130 workstations on its wargaming floor plus flight simulators. For wargaming, the lab fuses advanced technologies across all domains of warfighting — land, air, sea and space.

But it’s not all artificial intelligence and computers. Rather than being replaced by artificial computer systems, humans remain a critical part of such efforts, with officials promising improved human-in-the-loop analysis, base officials said at the event.

Why wargaming?

In an uncertain world, there is an urgent need to rapidly integrate and field next-generation weapons, officials said. Wargaming introduces participants to emerging and rapidly changing battlefield technology. It’s also a way of finding out shortcomings in a simulated environment rather than the real war, base officials said.

The games ultimately provide planners and scientists with an in-depth understanding of how to prepare for a realistic battlefield confrontation. And the findings are shared.

Officials said the goal of the facility is to create partnerships between AFRL and industry, academic and others, including other branches of the military and allies.

Ultimately, it’s all done, said Dr. Shery Welsh, director of AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate, in the pursuit of “a safer, more secure world.”

AFRL is the primary scientific research and development center for the Air Force. The WARS Lab is a joint effort between the AFRL’s Directed Energy and Space Vehicles directorates.

“Within the realm of scientific research and development, the Air Force Research Laboratory stands out as the primary center for innovation in the Department of the Air Force,” Welsh said. “And we’re all very proud of that — supporting the Air Force and Space Force.”

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