Fight Club Prepares Lt Col Maddie Novák for Cross-Dimension Manoeuvre

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

[Originally featured in the Mad Scientist Laboratory, LTC Arnel David, U.S. Army, and Maj Aaron Moore, British Army, with their evocative post describe the nascent revolution in Professional Military Education (PME) wrought by the convergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital assistants, gaming, and Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR). Using storytelling and backcasting, LTC David and Maj Moore vividly describe how Leaders will seek out and leverage these technologies to hone their warfighting skills across all dimensions, enhancing their overall competitiveness for command. Read on to learn how this revolution is already underway today!]

2030 is a big year. Your name is Maddie Lena Novák. You are competing to assume command of one of the UK’s newly formed cross-dimension manoeuvre teams (XDMT) within 6 (UK) Division. This is a time when the great power competition that began to emerge in the previous decade, is now in full swing. The powers of the United States and China consciously engage in sub-threshold activity, competing against each other’s interests in a zero-sum scenario reminiscent of the Cold War. The United Kingdom has not been a neutral player in this dynamic. The UK is currently involved in proxy conflicts across many regions of Africa, and remains heavily involved in reassurance and deterrence activities on Europe’s eastern borders. As you prepare for the board competition for command of the XDMT, you reflect on the career that led you to this point. Much of it spent deployed on operations and when home, ruthlessly focussed on gaming and fighting, to hone your skills as a fighter in all dimensions.

The time in your early career as a light cavalry officer in multiple deployments to Africa, conducting Defence Engagement activity in proxy conflicts, and then guarding NATO in Eastern Europe, taught you much about the limitations of the blunt application of hard power. Over time, you observed the rapid changes to the character of conflict and competition. The ubiquity of sensors, AI-enabled kill chains, and a highly saturated information environment, combine to create a maelstrom of complexity for warfighters to navigate. Adversaries across the world are now able to employ cheap and sophisticated autonomous systems across long ranges with fully integrated fires layers. You realised that fighting well required skills outside traditional combined arms assignments.

Your curiosity about information and influence led you to complete a role conversion in 6th Division after subunit command. You spent several years leading an information manoeuvre detachment where you were able to leverage your native Polish language skills and Eastern European geopolitical knowledge.

Being born to a Welsh mother and Polish father gave you a diverse outlook. You remember contributing to the Human Domain Matrix (HDM) virtual reality simulation where you provided input to a highly successful Balkan scenario that trained multiple teams for deployment. This highly curated scenario gave teams knowledge of the psycho-social and emotional triggers of the local population. It was a powerful simulation and it was then that you became keen to try out UK Fight Club where HDM was first developed.

The British Army has developed an innovative partnership with Hollywood to bring the latest virtual reality, CGI, and AI technology to its Soldiers with an approved pilot for the Human Domain Matrix VR simulation. This VR experience will be a first of its kind and they are working with the producer of Mad Max: Fury Road, and the motion capture and technical leads for theLord of the Rings and the new Star Wars: The Mandalorian. These ideas sprung from the science fiction writing done right here on the Mad Scientist Laboratory blog site here and here. The initial prototype will be complete in early 2021.

Fight Club was still young, but you helped influence its growth by collaborating with other partner nations to develop high-level wargames to stress test theories of competition in grey zone operations. Your vivid imagination and relentless energy were infectious as you designed the most creative games ever played. Your network of academics, industry partners, scientists, and fellow warfighters has helped elevate your thinking about warfare and competition. Your top standings on multiple leader boards gave you a reputation of competence and professional excellence. The data driven Fight Club gave you routine feedback which facilitated a bespoke PME to augment the standard institutional courses. Where your dad’s generation of officers spent extra time perfecting PowerPoint and Excel, you clocked over 10,000 hours becoming a virtuoso in gaming and adaptive thinking.