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  • Writer's pictureCANA

January 2023 Newsletter

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

New Year, New You! We don’t always keep annual resolutions, but it never stops us from making new ones! Year after year, there’s always a bright New Year’s light of enthusiasm that shines down and makes us think anything is possible. It’s also the time we find the right inspirational message or mantra to shape a whole new year of thinking…and doing. What energizes us personally always carries over to work, and we’re committed to making sure we cross the CANA start - and finish - line together! For 2023, we think George Bernard Shaw said it best, “[p]eople who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” That’s the secret; we get down to business and we do it. At the start of this new and promising year, we’re sharing some of CANA’s newer initiatives, like our Supply Chain Analysis as a Service, as well as detailing aspects of CANA’s well-honed technical and management foundation. It’s an exciting time and we’re here for it.

So, that’s our secret - what’s yours? *


* We would love to hear about what inspires you - share a favorite quote or message for the New Year on our LinkedIn or Facebook.


Enhancing Wargaming, Logistics, and Supply Chain Resiliency Through Advanced Analytics

Jesse Kemp

By Jesse Kemp CANA Principal Program Manager

Across all the military services, wargaming has become an increasingly popular tool to test new warfighting concepts, examine the use of new technologies, and exercise various scenarios against near-peer and peer adversaries. As an example, the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory executes 10-12 wargames per year, with multiple overlapping game lines of effort running simultaneously. Yet despite its broad adaptation, wargaming has some acknowledged limitations. Those limitations, and the risks they pose, were the subject of a recent War On The Rocks article by Dr. Jon Compton, where he argued that the DoD’s over-reliance on wargaming for investment planning could have significant negative impacts.

Wargames as event planning are fun to attend, and most who attend them come away convinced they learned a great deal. Yet, these event-style wargames produce little in terms of ways forward, innovation, or usable answers. Further, they frequently create negative learning and reinforce existing biases due to the lack of any foundational research or ancillary support studies. Regardless, wargame providers continue to conduct them to the exclusion of more analytically robust designs of research that incorporate smaller, more focused games into broader discovery efforts, and resistance to change appears to be high.

For logisticians participating in wargaming events, the frustrations articulated in Dr. Compton’s article are often felt even more acutely. Despite acknowledgments from very senior leaders across the DoD that logistics challenges must be analyzed and addressed, it is rare to find a wargame’s objectives bounded or informed by the limitations of logistics capabilities.

Others in the wargaming community argue that trying to bring quantitative analytics, such as logistics feasibility, into wargaming events risks detracting from their primary focus–exploring the human dimension of complex problems. In a September 2022 article titled, “Wargaming and the Cycle of Research and Learning” Dr. Peter Perla emphasized the distinction between a wargame and operations research: “A true wargame is best used to investigate the decision processes of its players, what they believe that leads to those decisions, and how those processes interact; it is not well suited to the calculation of outcomes of physical events–such calculations, when they occur, are inputs to the game, not outputs.”

The Cycle of Research

In their articles, Dr. Compton and Dr. Perla make a similar case for an integrated “cycle of research” where wargaming, modeling and simulation, and analysis outcomes are combined towards focused learning objectives. While theoretically sound, this approach can have challenges in execution. First, how accurate can a cycle of research be if its wargaming inputs reinforce existing biases or ignore hard problems like logistics? And what if other inputs to a cycle of research are also flawed? Like wargaming, operations research – the process of reducing highly complex problems into component parts and seeking quantitative and repeatable outcomes – has its own set of limitations. Where wargaming events frequently leverage the collective experience of multiple senior leaders and subject matter experts, operations research projects tend to encounter the opposite: very little senior leader involvement, especially in their early stages. This can lead to flawed models, inaccurate assumptions, or results that lack operational context. Thus, independently, both wargaming and operations research have the potential to come up short.

Ultimately, the cycle of research could be enhanced by more closely linking the key leader engagement opportunities wargaming events afford with the precision and rigor of operations research techniques. What if, as an example, analytic techniques could be brought to bear fast and in unobtrusive ways during a wargame, effectively quantifying the impacts of participants’ decisions without impeding the pace of the game or altering its primary objective? Imagine if after wargame participants set operational objectives and developed their plans to achieve those ends, weapon-to-target pairings could be quickly assessed to measure a plan’s efficacy. Imagine also if logisticians could quickly and visually “map” the supply chain required to support an operation, overlay distribution resources necessary to maneuver and sustain the force, and rapidly simulate the movement of forces, supplies, and follow-on sustainment resources. These tools could provide valuable in-game feedback on the logistics feasibility of proposed plans.

The good news is that the technology required to deliver these types of analytic enhancements to wargaming already exists. Working in partnership with Headquarters Marine Corps over the past four years, CANA developed and applied a unique set of analytic techniques to support the planning for prepositioning and war reserve programs and their material investments. More recently, the Office of Naval Research began working with CANA to incorporate similar analytic methods into a science and technology project designed to aid operations and logistics planning for fleet-level and maritime operations center battle staffs. Tailoring these analysis methods to support wargaming applications is a logical next step and a mission we are excited to embark upon.

CANA at MORS: Examining Logistics and Supply Chain Resilience Through Wargaming

For this reason, we’re excited to announce our participation in the upcoming MORS Wargaming with Pacific Partners special event in February of 2023. This event will provide an ideal forum for CANA to highlight how currently-available analytic techniques can be adapted and applied to wargaming for enhanced outcomes. And because it is such an underserved element in almost every wargame, our primary focus will be highlighting its use in logistics and supply chain resiliency, demonstrating ways to rapidly quantify the implications of operational plans and provide objective assessments of feasibility.

But the most powerful use of these innovative analytic methods could be to enable the design of wargames with logistics as the main objective. By examining key variables such as supply routes, supply locations, amounts of prepositioned stocks, transportation fleet design and positioning, and how/where operational energy is produced and transported, planners can determine what logistics investments are most influential in determining mission success.

Supply Chain Analysis as a Service at CANA

Logistics wargaming is, in fact, part of a broader line of effort underway at CANA called Supply Chain Analysis as a Service. Our team of subject matter experts and operations research professionals are designing ways to examine the key components of a supply chain and dynamically test its resilience under stress. Customizing these analytic techniques for use in both wargaming and more long-term planning and design applications is a key part of this line of effort. Moreover, this methodology has the potential for value in non-military applications such as food security, disaster preparedness, or other related scenarios.

This exciting new frontier, at the nexus of wargaming, logistics, and supply chain analysis, offers many opportunities to enhance support for stakeholders in the DoD, Federal agencies, state governments and beyond. With both analytics and logistics in our company DNA, CANA is well-positioned and prepared to be an influencer in this important area.


Program Modeling, Simulation, and Analysis

Shawn Charchan

By Shawn Charchan CANA Technical Director of Energy Solutions

As CANA's Technical Director of Energy Solutions, I also serve as the Modeling, Simulation, and Analysis (MS&A) Coordinator for several CANA clients. In that capacity, I have the privilege of working with the analytical leads of various pilot programs to ensure the composite group is capitalizing on work already complete and working with unity of effort. This ensures the collective body of work continues to expand in line with the client’s larger objectives. The analysis and research that CANA supplies often relies on modeling and simulation (M&S) when completing studies in support of pilots. M&S is a powerful, yet often misunderstood, tool that has many uses in the analytical realm; it can be used for applications spanning requirements analysis, to forecasting, to - in several instances -system impact assessments.

One of the challenges our teams face when performing pilots is the data we obtain is based on limited lab testing and/or field demonstrations comprising one or two of the systems being tested. M&S can provide the study team a rich synthetic environment in which 10s or 100s of the systems being tested can be represented as a digital twin in a virtual scenario, thereby enabling our study teams to explore the contribution fully fielded systems will (or will not) supply in the context of future warfare. The combination of real-world system testing combined with analysis in a synthetic environment has proven time and again to be an excellent method for obtaining the type of insights that help us engage external stakeholders, inform requirements, and ensure each pilot ends with success.


CANA Futures Program Highlights Participation in Virtual Event for Georgia Tech Students

Anna Sterrett

By Anna Sterrett Director of Business and People Operations

On Wednesday, January 18, 2023, several CANA employees volunteered their time to participate in a virtual event with Georgia Tech students. Throughout the course of the day, mock interviews were scheduled with several students, and they had the opportunity to receive immediate feedback to improve their personal presentation and employability skills. Resume reviews also took place, where students were provided with helpful tips and constructive criticism to broaden student knowledge of what employers look for when considering an applicant.

The day was a great success, and students expressed gratitude for the experience coupled with optimistic reviews from CANA employees. Mr. Cliff Carpenter, CANA Principal Logistics Analyst commented,"[g]reat opportunity for CANA to interact with top talent - I hope we were able to give these graduate students a flavor of what to expect in an interview experience with top tech firms." While Ms. Jackie Knapp, CANA Senior Business Operations Manager shared, “I believe it was a great experience for both of us. It allowed me the opportunity to hone interviewing skills that I haven't had the opportunity to use in a very long time. For [the student], I think it was excellent practice and provided some insights for his next interview.”

This event is a small sampling of what the CANA Futures Program is doing to make significant connections with students preparing to launch into internships, and fellowships, as well as into their chosen profession. Throughout CANA’s history, there has been a desire to extend an arm to assist with providing professional opportunities to young people. From this passion, the CANA Futures Program was born, where CANA developed this program specifically to seek out and provide a professional experience to college students, transitioning military members, their spouses, and veterans.

The CANA Futures Program consists of two programs. The first is the CANA Veterans Program (CVP). CANA prides itself on being a veteran-owned company and believes wholeheartedly in providing opportunities to others who have served our country. CVP provides those opportunities to not only veterans, but to their spouses as well. Through partnership with the federal programs Hiring Our Heroes Fellowship and DOD Skillbridge, CANA has been able to offer veterans and their spouses experience and training in the corporate environment.

From first hand experience, Ms. Ashley Castillo spoke to her experience with Hiring Our Heroes: “I would say as a spouse Hiring our Heroes really focuses on the silent ranks. They give us back the ability to speak and be equal in an area that sometimes feels impossible. In the workforce it is hard to prove why someone should take a chance knowing you may be leaving or to explain why you have gaps in employment. They work with companies such as CANA who believe and give possibilities to do it all.” Ms. Castillo was hired by CANA through Hiring our Heroes as a Business Operations Analyst, and has proven essential to its Business Operations Team.

The second program within the CANA Futures Program is the Corporate Interns & Fellows Program or CIFP. CIFP provides college students and graduates the opportunity to gain valuable experience in CANA specific industry sectors, such as logistics, program management, business development, software development, and operations research. CANA has found this process to provide a seamless transition from being an in-house trained intern or fellow joining the CANA Team as a hired professional.

One such success story belongs to Mr. Jack Murray, who began his professional career within CIFP. Mr. Murray shared, “[t]he internship program here at CANA was my first true professional job, and I was fortunate enough to get this experience during my time in college. I think that the way CANA’s internship program is run truly allowed me to develop my professional skills in a manner that was both comfortable and challenging at the same time. There was a good amount of independence and independent work that allowed me to take things in the direction that I wanted, but the support was always there if and when I needed it.”

As Mr. Murray progressed through his internship, it became clear that he was an asset to the CANA Team. He was hired as a Business Analyst, and what he learned within his education, in conjunction with the skills he developed through CIFP, proved to be a perfect match for what CANA was looking for. From his perspective, the experience was also one of great value. He stated, “[t]he blend of independence and guidance is done very well within CANA’s internship program. The best thing about the program is that you can reach out to anyone in the company, and they are more than happy to help you. Everyone here wants to see you succeed! CANA’s internship program directly led to my full-time position here at CANA, and it taught me a great deal about transitioning from the collegiate world to the business world. This program sets you up for success!

For more information, please contact our CANA Futures Program Coordinator, Ms. Stephanie Allison.


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