Companion to Red Tide: The v1.04 Command update

October 20, 2021 · Posted in Command · Comment 

Command: Red Tide is on schedule for official release tomorrow and, as usual with campaign DLCs, it is going to be accompanied by a a major official update to CMO. The new v1.04 update consolidates all public-beta and minor official releases since v1.03 and introduces several significant changes and some new features.

This time around, and compared to previous sim-heavy updates like v1.02 or v1.03, the emphasis has been less on new simulation features and more on enhancing user interface functionality and quality-of-life (QoL) additions. Let us walk through some of the heavy hitters:

  • A new page dedicated to sensors has been added to the database viewer. This fullfills a frequent player request and allows exploring in greater detail the various properties of a sensor. This is a very new addition and things are still being polished on it, based on preliminary feedback from the recent public beta that introduced it.
  • A further DB-viewer improvement: The RCS signatures of aircraft are now shown per-loadout in addition to their “clean” ones. This makes it easier to understand how external stores on an aircraft are affecting RCS and the subsequent effect in detection range by different threat radars.
  • A sub-type filter has been added to the DB-viewer, for quicker navigation & sorting of platforms.
  • A new map option allows automatically filtering-out contacts based on posture (e.g. filter-out all neutrals). This can be very useful to help declutter a very busy map (e.g. in Northern Inferno #1 once SOSUS detections start happening) without manually having to filter-out each contact.
  • The “red-X” (Direct-X device context loss) issue during resume from sleep/hibernation/screenlock has been fixed, making it easier to run Command unattended for prolonged periods (particularly useful for big, complex scenarios).
  • Various improvements to search-and-rescue operations and logics have been added.
  • It is now possible to edit the fuel levels of platforms directly through ScenEdit, without needing to use scripting or the SBR. Similarly, fire and flooding status are now directly editable, making it easier to represent already-damaged platforms (or just experiment with the effects of secondary damage).
  • Various new properties and methods have been added to the Lua scripting API.
  • Scenarios featuring numerous MEO/GEO satellites should no longer suffer a significant performance hit.
  • The latest versions of the DB3000 and CWDB databases are included, with a plethora of platform & system additions as well as numerous tweaks, fixes and updates.
  • Plus, of course, a large number of further additions, tweaks and fixes to both the user interface and simulation engine based directly on user feedback.

The v1.04 update will be released tomorrow, together with Red Tide. The Command development team is already busy assembling the follow-on updates and working on a number of new features that players will certainly enjoy to discover. Stick around!

The scenarios of Red Tide

October 7, 2021 · Posted in Command · Comment 

The release of the new “Red Tide” campaign pack and the accompanying v1.04 upgrade for CMO is getting closer, in two weeks from now. Let us take a look through the scenarios in this hypothetical 1985 worldwide conflict, a much-anticipated release by the creator of “Northern Inferno”.


The Bedford Incident

USS Bedford, a US 2nd Fleet destroyer is on patrol near the Svalbard Islands together with HNoMS Narvik, and they have been repeatedly overflown by Soviet aircraft, including low-level passes at main deck level.

Bedford has also had fleeting contacts on sonar, which is believed to be an unknown submarine in territorial waters.

Even though hostilities have not broken out, the Bedford’s captain is hell bent on bringing it to the surface – or worse…


Kobayashi Maru

Soviet doctrine called for an all-out attack on any American Carrier Battle Group (CVBG) within reach in the first minutes of a conflict. Not only were CVBGs powerful naval forces, but strategic nuclear strike platforms as well.

To accomplish this goal, American Carriers were relentlessly followed from the moment they left port, either with satellites, destroyers or intelligence ships (AGIs) which would follow the carrier battle group wherever it went, always reporting the CVBG’s position.

If peace suddenly changed to war, the units shadowing the CVBG would give the other attacking forces the position of the carrier, and if possible also attack it themselves.

With this in mind, an agreement was formulated called the “Incidents at Sea Agreement” between the USA and the Soviet Union: Hostile acts include not only firing weapons, but also locking a fire-control radar onto another vessel.

With such an expansive definition of a “hostile act”, what can possibly go wrong?


Unwanted Visitors

Since the sinking of the Golf-class SSB, NATO and the Soviet Union are now at war. Frantic talks between both sides have led to nothing with blame been levelled at each other; inside sources in Geneva have said the latest round of peace talks “are not going well.”

A state of war now exists between Soviet Union and NATO. SACLANT has deployed NATO’s Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT) from the South-Western approaches to a position from which it can both deter and destroy any Soviet naval movements in the GIUK Gap. Standing-alert air assets in Iceland and Norway have also been made available.

A few days ago, the Northern Fleet sortied several surface units into the GIUK Gap area to hunt down any NATO forces. NATO has deployed its own alert units to counter this force, but NATO assets are currently limited until reinforcements can be mobilized and arrive in-theater.

Can NATO’s ragtag alert force successfully engage the powerful Soviet fleet?


Fire Cracker

Brunei has complained to the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) on the infringement of its Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ) by the Soviet Union and Vietnam; these countries have also been harassing local shipping outside the EEZ as well.

Yesterday the Waspada and Seteria, two of Brunei’s fast attack craft, were sunk with the loss of all hands whilst patrolling their EEZ. Their attackers are unknown, but it is believed Vietnamese units were involved.

Brunei has requested military assistance from the FPDA. Malaysia and Singapore have deployed units to the area to assist, with the United Kingdom flying in a detachment of Buccaneer strikers from Cyprus. The Australia and New Zealand government has diverted a Bersama Lima deployment (TU 544.01.02 and TU 544.01.03) from Singapore to the South China Sea in Response. Task group 544.01.01 is already on station in the Brunei EEZ. Additional UK and Australian aircraft are deployed on Brunei Int. airport.

Coming together, the FPDA responders are determined to repulse any intruder – by any means.


Trident Spear

The war is two weeks old now, and over the past few days Norway’s northern air defence system has been devastated by bomber and Spetnaz attacks. Just last week, forces from UK, Australia and New Zealand were in a major engagement in the South China Sea against Soviet and Vietnamese Forces; all sides were bloodied in that engagement.

In the North Atlantic, STANAVFORLANT has been decimated by a sneak Backfire strike, the survivors withdrawing to Faslane for repairs and replenishment. Soviet submarines which repositioned prior to the commencement of hostilities are now wreaking havoc in the Greenland – Iceland – United Kingdom (GIUK) Gap. NATO ASW forces are responding in force.

The British carrier HMS Illustrious and her battle group, along with Dutch and Canadian ships and submarines are now in position to stem the tide of Soviet submarines flooding into the North Atlantic to join their counterparts who have previously taken up station.

Iceland has been reinforced by Canadian Aurora MPAs and elderly F-101 Voodoos from reserve units, and the UK is continuing to fly Nimrods out of RAF Lossiemouth. The SOSUS network is online and operational and provides early warning detection and tracking of Soviet submarines – and lots of them.

Can Lusty and her company seal the gap?


Gauntlet

Over the last week, Soviet special forces have destroyed the SOSUS buildings and infrastructure at Gibraltar, rendering the network useless in the Gibraltar Strait area.

To plug the gap, NATO has deployed two “CATAS” (towed array) ships in the area, HMS Sirius and USS Moosbrugger, bolstered by additional units from Portugal and Spain.

NATO believes the destruction of the local SOSUS node is a pre-amble to a surge of Soviet submarines, possibly escorted by surface ships and aircraft, which may try and enter the Mediterranean via the Gibraltar Straits. Such a move would greatly increase the threat to NATO forces in the Med.

Nothing must be allowed to pass through the Rock.


Commerce Raider

Heavy fighting has continued at sea for the last 3 weeks. Soviet forces have crossed the border into Norway, with the Norwegians taking heavy casualties in defence of their homeland.

At sea, losses have been heavy on both sides – in men and material.

NATO needs to resupply Europe and is in the process of forming new convoys to Europe; 3 Cdo Brigade is now afloat and on route to reinforce NATO’s northern flank in Norway.

But the entire world is now at at war: Brazil and Chile have decided to side with NATO and assist in providing escort for convoys in the South Atlantic en-route to Europe. The French meanwhile have forces in the Cameroons with a naval presence off West Africa.

The United Kingdom has detached its Falkland islands guardships to provide escort for a small convoy, leaving the islands to protection by Chile. RAF Ascension island has been reinforced with detachments of strike, MRR (maritime recon) and tanker assets to assist the safe passage of the convoy.

A number of Soviet submarines and warships are known to be operating in the South Atlantic, with MMR aircraft based in Angola to support their search operations in the area. Latest intelligence suggests Cuban units are operating alongside their Soviet allies.

The South Atlantic convoy is clearly drawing a lot of attention. But nevertheless, it has to get through.

Authors Note:
Commerce raiding is a form of naval warfare used to destroy or disrupt logistics of the enemy on the open sea by attacking its merchant shipping, rather than engaging its combatants or enforcing a blockade against them.


Enemy at the Gate

Whilst on patrol, the French SSBN “FS Le Redoutable” ran into a Soviet Whiskey-class SSK in the Mid-Atlantic, and sustained a near-miss torpedo explosion. The explosion caused major flooding in the reactor compartment as well as damage to communications and sensors. After emergency repairs, she is now making best speed to the sanctuary of Brest naval base to conduct further repairs.

Obviously, a predictably-tracked western strategic missile submarine is a prize target for Soviet forces, and it is a safe assumption they will do everything in their power to destroy her completely. Accordingly, French naval forces have established an ASW barrier to protect her whilst she returns to port.

Authors Note:
France was a founding member of NATO and fully participated in the Alliance from its outset. Paris was home to its first permanent Headquarters.
In 1966, France decided to withdraw from the NATO Integrated Military Command Structures. That decision in no way undermined France’s commitment to contribute to the collective defence of the Alliance. Instead, it aimed, in the words of General de Gaulle, to “modify the form of our Alliance, without altering its substance.”


Deja Vu

After the Soviet strikes on British, Australian and New Zealand forces in the South China Sea, the United States has deployed the Midway CVBG to the area to deter Soviet influence in the area. Select Japanese ships are also in support.

Soviet forces have now resupplied their bases in Vietnam and are posed to conduct further attacks in the area. Naturally, the Midway CVBG’s presence makes it one of their prime targets. Vietnamese forces are also on high alert and are likely to support any Soviet operations after their attacks on Australian and New Zealand Forces.

The Midway group has been tasked with conducting “Alpha Strikes” and mining operations against Soviet forces in the Cam Ranh Bay area, while simultaneously repulsing any attacks on own or allied forces.

Built during WW2, the Midway is by this time one of the oldest and smallest active USN carriers, and one of the last to operate the classic F-4 Phantom II and A-7 Corsair II aircraft. Is the “Midway Magic” up to such a demanding task?


Midway

Task Group 70.02 was formed from units scattered throughout the Pacific at the start of the war, including the training carrier USS Lexington, and has now been deployed to conduct defensive operations in the vicinity of Midway island to deter any invasion by Soviet forces on the islands.

Intelligence indicates that a number of  Soviet warships, including amphibious units and the carrier Minsk, have deployed from Pacific Fleet bases and are enroute to the islands with the intention to seize them and use them as a forward operating base against the Hawaiian islands.

The “Blue Ghost”, with a scratch air group composed of anything that can operate off her, has now taken station north of the islands to deter any invasion ideas the Soviets have for Midway. Forces from Canada, Australia and the US Coast Guard have been formed into a task unit and will be providing close ASW defence of the Islands.


Hells Highway

Soviet motorized and armored units have crossed the Norwegian border a week ago, and have met stiff resistance from Norwegian forces.

NATO deployed a Rapid Reaction Force (RRF) which has been air dropped into northern Norway, comprising of UK paratroopers and Italian mountain troops, but they urgently require further support to stem the Soviet onslaught.

3 Cdo Brigade and the 1st Combat Group NL Marines have been embarked at Faslane and are now  in an amphibious group led by HMS Hermes, which has been rushed out of reserve status due to the current conflict. The group has been ordered to make a fast transit to the port of Trondheim to unload their embarked forces.

The war-worn Hermes has one last job to do…


End Game

With most of Norway now under Soviet control, SACLANT has been ordered to take direct action against Soviet installations in the Kola Peninsula and to neutralize remaining Red Banner Northern Fleet naval units in the Norwegian and Barents Sea.

Three NATO CVBGs centered around the carriers Saratoga, America and Foch and their escorts have converged on the Azores approximately 3 days ago.

As the Soviet theater commander, you have been ordered to conduct a maximum-effort strike against the CVBGs that have formed in the Atlantic Ocean. You have all the available assets at your disposal: A surface-action group centered on the Kirov, multiple attack and cruise-missile submarines, multiple naval aviation bomber regiments and satellite support. Nuclear anti-ship weapons have been released to your authority.

The theater may be complex, but your task is fundamentally simple: Eliminate the NATO threat to the Rodina at all costs.


“Living your life with me, I am you, you see,
There is part of me in everyone,
So reach down grab my hand, walk with me through the land,
Come home where you belong…”
(Lucifer Morningstar a.k.a. Devil, borrowing the voice of James Hetfield, Metallica 1983)

No sleep till Athens: The 8th Command-PE User Conference

September 28, 2021 · Posted in Command PE · Comment 

Crossposted from: https://pro.matrixgames.com/news/8th-command-professional-edition-user-conference

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.”

       

 

Command: Red Tide announced!

August 19, 2021 · Posted in Command · Comment 

The Second Coming: Command Pro Edition v2.0 now available

May 26, 2021 · Posted in Command PE · Comment 

“How do you improve on perfection? You can’t. You just offer more of it.”– From a Newsweek retrospective on The Godfather Part II

This has been a long time coming, and the wait is now finally over. Previously announced at Slitherine’s massive HOW Live+ event earlier this month, Command Professional Edition (CPE) v2 is now available for new and existing customers alike.

Easily our biggest pro-oriented release since the early days of Command pro, CPE v2 includes the additions of the latest v1.15.5 update while introducing a whole host of major new features:

All of the benefits of CMO: CPE v2 is built on the battle-hardened foundations of Command: Modern Operations, the successor to CMANO and winner of the Charles S. Roberts 2019 award for best modern-era wargame. CMO introduced a large number of groundbreaking features both on user interface and simulation mechanics, and CPEv2 inherits them, together with 18 months of refinements & improvements since its original release. Descriptions of the new features are available in these articles:

Run as non-admin: CPE v2 offers a revised filesystem layout for its writable data, which enables the application to run in a restricted (ie. non-administrator) mode. This makes it possible to install and run CPE in high-security environments, where admin powers for an application are a non-starter.

High-resolution terrain: While it can still use CMANO/CPE v1’s DTED-0 level terrain elevation set, CPE v2 now also offers the option to use a global-scale SRTM3-format terrain dataset with 90m/cell resolution (DTED-1 level). When activated, the higher resolution automatically applies to calculations dealing with the terrain elevation, such as terrain slope for ground units navigation, line of sight, surface/bottom clutter for look-down sensors, etc.

Offline map layers: All map layers (apart from those provided externally by Stamen Design) are now bundled in their entirety as part of the installation (including, optionally, the massive “Sentinel-2 Cloudless” layer) and can thus be used in offline machines. This greatly enhances map quality and performance in systems that are isolated from the Internet (incl. highly-secure networks).

(NOTE: The files for the high-resolution terrain and the offline S2C layer are huge, increasing the full installer size to over 160GB, which can be impractical to distribute for some customers. For this reason, they are offered as a separate optional “HD data pack” rather than as a mandatory part of the installation. The “core” installer package is a mere 18.6GB in size.)

Distinct mobile ground units (also in v1.15.5): In addition to modelling mobile forces as “aimpoint facilities”, it is now possible to explicitly model individual vehicles with their own customized properties such as armor, propulsion, mounts, sensors etc. These new units now have their separate data annex (“Ground Units”), and can be browsed on the DB viewer:

The introduction of distinct mobile vehicles has enabled the modelling of new unique features such as true amphibious vehicles and highly-dispersed artillery & SAM batteries.

Interactive-mode CLI (also in v1.15.5): You can now launch a CLI instance in interactive mode, using the Lua TCP-socket as the control interface. This ability combines the high-performance, low overhead and parallel execution benefits of CLI with the full-control interactivity of the full-GUI client.

Energy-based boost-coast missile model: Most rocket-boosted missile weapons now use a realistic energy-based flight model: After their initial boost, they coast and lose speed due to atmospheric drag (variable with speed and altitude), especially when they maneuver, and also gain & lose speed as they dive and climb respectively. Aircraft default evasion tactics have also been adjusted to this new reality, and aircraft will actively attempt to drag/outrun incoming missiles with beaming used only as a last resort. Detection ranges for incoming missiles have also been significantly reduced in most cases, which makes it harder to visually pick up missiles at long range and outrun them (this also reinforces the importance of automated missile-warning systems).

Improved ballistic missile & ABM modelling: Ballistic missiles now use true-to-life trajectories depending on their range profile (with accurate burnout elevation angle, velocity, altitude and apogee figures), and MIRVed missiles release their re-entry vehicles sequentially instead of all of them at the same.
ABM missiles also have improved kinematic & guidance profiles, and the interception altitude envelope limitation is taken into account during the pre-fire checklist (e.g. SM-3 will not fire against incoming BM/RV if the estimated intercept point is within the atmosphere).
Combined, these changes model much more faithfully the challenges of BMD siting, engagement windows and general operations.

New sensor type: Passive radar (PCLS) (also in v1.15.5): For a general background on PCLS, see here. PCLS systems can be very useful both as a covert means of airspace surveillance and as a potent counter-VLO asset to be combined with other, more traditional sensors. They do have several drawbacks and vulnerabilities (for example, they can be limited in altitude coverage because of their bistatic nature, and each receiver must have clear LOS to both the target and the transmitter in order to process the reflection), but as long as these can be accommodated, PCLS sensors can significantly enhance an IADS and complicate enemy efforts to disrupt it.

New bathymetry layer: The “Relief” map layer has been enhanced with its marine counterpart, a rich bathymetric map that illustrates the differences in bottom depth on different map locations. An example screenshot:

Sim-pulse control on MC & CLI: Users can now configure the simulation pulse time-slice (coarse or finegrained) while running a scenario in Monte-Carlo mode or while using the command-line edition. This allows better control between performance and fidelity in simulation execution.

Benchmark mode: This provides an objective way to measure & compare a system’s performance and suitability for CPE, by repeatedly running any selected scenario in headless mode (similar to Monte-Carlo execution, but without any analysis results). The execution is run using finegrained pulse mode (ie. 0.1-sec pulses) in order to stress-test the simulation engine and the hardware resources.

Database selection improvements: The “Database” section of the Editor menu has been significantly redesigned for ease of use. Instead of a long list of available registered & custom DBs to choose from, only the latest registered DB3000 & CWDB databases are displayed for quick selection, along with the option to manually select another database to load from the file system. It is also now possible to directly select a specific DB to migrate a scenario to:

New satellite-pass prediction UI: Apart from the classic tabular format for presenting forthcoming satellite passes and dwell times over a specified point, an additional graphical view has been added, which makes it easier to visualize the same information:

Area & reference-point manager: This offers a centralized interface for editing reference points on large-scale scenarios. Ref-points and zones can be organized by tagging and visually distinguished by different colors:


Command Pro v2.0 is available to new and existing customers on MatrixGames’ new pro-dedicated site. The development team is already busy absorbing the feedback from early adopters and preparing the first post-release updates, continuing the proud tradition of continuous support and development. Stay tuned for more!

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