Cyber and AI/Behaviour Modelling are keys to the new security environment. Halldale’s Walter F. Ullrich summarizes the NMSG symposium.

National representatives and observers from 20 countries and eight NATO organizations met in October in Ottawa, Canada, for the 42nd business meeting and annual symposium of the NATO Modelling and Simulation Group (NMSG). The NMSG is one of seven Scientific and Technical Committees (STCs) of NATO’s Science and Technology Organisation (STO), one of the world’s largest collaborative networks for defence and security-oriented science and technology. The number of active researchers includes about 5,000 scientists, who according to the STO “... draw upon the expertise of more than 200,000 people in Allied and partner nations.”

The meeting took note of significant progress in exploring new areas of application for defence-oriented modelling and simulation (M&S). Participating nations and organizations agreed to bundle their efforts to better address the world's new security environment with priority given to timely solutions that consider key areas like cyber and artificial intelligence/behaviour modelling. Participants also visited the Rehabilitation Virtual Reality Laboratory (RVR Lab) at the Ottawa Hospital General and the Visualization, Modelling and Simulation (VSIM) Centre at Carleton University. The RVR lab provides access to world-class virtual reality rehabilitation services that can improve a patient’s mobility. The VSIM Centre promotes basic and applied knowledge by integrating research on human cognition and cognitive systems with developments in visualisation, modelling and simulation.

The two-day symposium had the topic: “Multinational Interoperability: Agility for Military Training and Operational Applications, Innovation in Enterprise Level Consortiums and M&S Technology Development.” The sessions of the symposium are unclassified and have open access. Attendees came from NATO, Partners-for-Peace nations and other invited nations. Altogether 112 experts from 20 different countries were present.


The Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), an agency of the Canadian Department of National Defence, hosted the event. Dr. Kurtis Simpson, Director of the DRDC Ottawa Research Centre and Wim Huiskamp, Chief Scientist M&S (TNO, The Netherlands) co-chaired the conference. Dr. Eric Fournier, Director General for Strategic Decision Support, and Dale Reding, Director General S&T Air Force and Marine, both DRDC, delivered the national keynotes. Fournier spoke about the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) programme, a key component of Canada's defence policy. The Canadian government is investing $1.6 billion over the next 20 years. Reding gave an overview of present state-of-the-art modelling and simulation and took a look ahead. In the future, the focus will be on transforming new technologies into effective M&S capabilities and incorporating their effects into concepts, doctrines and processes.

The laureate of the NMSG Young Scientist Award for 2018, Dr. Peter Hammar of the Swedish Defence Research Agency FOI, had the opportunity to present his promising research results in the field of simulation-controlled automated textual reporting. To date, a concept for an automatic textual report generator has been developed, together with a prototype.

During the conference, 20 presentations from five subject areas were held: modelling and simulation to support operations, artificial Intelligence and behaviour, augmented reality and emerging technologies, architecture and interoperability, and sensor simulation. Search for STO-MP-MSG-159 in your favourite search engine to uncover copies of the papers.


Interoperability is still a challenge. However, new research areas are emerging within NATO. These include cloud operations, big data and data analytics, the use of high-performance computing and AI. Although the symposium could provide only a glimpse into the current state-of-the-art of M&S, it became evident that the potential is far from exhausted.

The NMSG will hold its next symposium, “Towards the Next Generation Synthetic Battlespace”, 24 and 25 October 2019 in Vienna, Austria. 

Originally published in Issue 1, 2019 of MS&T Magazine.