CCDC DAC: Forging the Future of Human Behavior Representation on the Battlefield

By CCDC Data and Analysis CenterJuly 20, 2020

Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. — After putting out a call to Army organizations for their biggest gaps and challenges related to modeling and simulation in 2015, the U.S. Army Modeling and Simulation Office used collected input to develop working groups to address specific problem areas. This past February, the working group dedicated to human behavior representation across the M&S community decided there was a need for an Army organization to step in, take the initiative and store authoritative data.

Lt. Col. Glenn Hodges, deputy director of the Modeling Virtual Environments and Simulation Institute at the Naval Postgraduate School, identified the Combat Capabilities Development Command Data and Analysis Center, known as CCDC DAC, as the very Center to do that.

“CCDC DAC has the expertise and mission to be successful in this effort,” said Jaime Howard, branch chief of the Combat Simulation and Geospatial Branch, Warfighter Futures and Integration Division. Assessing human behavior is multi-tiered and complex; behaviors, actions and responses on the battlefield must be characterized and ingested in an appropriate way to better train Soldiers, provide effective high-performing products and weapons, ensure product usability and ensure safety and lethality.

“We’ve been through the trials and tribulations to ensure we implement the standards that need to be in place,” said Howard. “We also have teams working various efforts to capture and define human behavior, making us prime to develop the data, house the data and provide it to other organizations.”

Greg Dietrich, one of CCDC DAC’s analytical program managers, is responsible for pulling together CCDC DAC’s efforts in support of the Soldier Lethality Cross Functional Team. To focus filling the M&S gap in human behavior representation, he coordinates a collaborative effort across three CCDC DAC technical capabilities: M&S of Soldiers, M&S of units and Human Systems Integration.

M&S of Soldiers

“What we’re trying to do is better represent how a real Soldier will perform in a combat environment,” said Ronald Bowers, warfighter methodology team lead of the Warfighter Modeling and Simulation Branch, Warfighter Futures and Integration Division.

Years before, Soldiers were modeled as nearly identical to vehicles. Without accounting for situational variability and stressors, Soldiers were treated like so: when they see a target, they hit it, and when they break, they’re broken. Soldiers were coarsely represented with seemingly unlimited capabilities: same level of strength, motivation and alertness. “What we’re seeing is that approach tends to over-predict how well Soldiers will fight,” said Bowers, “because we’re missing the degradations that real people suffer from harsh environments."

The underlying concern: users lose confidence in models when models predict something that they know from personal experience is not realistic. For the models to be reliable and credible, Soldiers need to be represented in real ways.

To address the deficiencies in the representation of the Soldier, CCDC DAC is developing the Soldier and Squad Trade Space Analysis Framework, commonly known as SSTAF. SSTAF will provide an architecture for integrating human performance and other Soldier-level models into a dynamic, unified representation of Soldier state and capability. Designed to provide sufficient resolution to quantify both the benefits and costs of Soldier equipment, SSTAF will enable configuring each Soldier in a simulation individually and thus will enable the possibility of investigating different mission outcomes based on different Soldier characteristics. SSTAF and its associated sub-models are being developed in coordination with CCDC Soldier Center, United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, PEO Soldier and the Iowa Technology Institute at the University of Iowa.

The Iowa Technology Institute’s Santos™ is shown simulating soldier motion while burdened with equipment.
The Iowa Technology Institute’s Santos™ is shown simulating soldier motion while burdened with equipment. (Photo Credit: Iowa Technology Institute at the University of Iowa) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Iowa Technology Institute is integrating its Santos™ predictive human motion simulation into SSTAF, providing the ability to predict the motion of a Soldier through a task while burdened with equipment. Given a Soldier, a set of equipment and a task, Santos™ determines time to completion, limb positions, joint stresses and metabolic costs. SSTAF will dynamically interact with Santos™ to predict Soldier motion through individual movement techniques and other combat tasks.

The next step in the SSTAF project will be to embed the framework into the One Semi-Automated Forces simulation. OneSAF will provide the combat context in which to evaluate equipment effectiveness and Soldier performance, responding with task outcomes and the modeled Soldiers’ states and capabilities. CCDC DAC intends to become OneSAF co-developers and make SSTAF available to the community as an OneSAF extension— an integration that will strengthen OneSAF’s representation of the individual Soldier.

M&S of Units

As M&S is used throughout the Army and other Joint Forces, it plays a key role in examining how changes in performance impact operational outcomes. Force-level simulations capture complex interactions between simulated Soldiers, vehicles, weapons, equipment and their surroundings.

An analytical tool used by CCDC DAC to represent realistic Soldiers and their systems is the Infantry Warrior Simulation, commonly referred to as IWARS. This constructive, force-on-force simulation focuses on individual and small unit dismounted combatants and their equipment, helping to assess operational effectiveness across a wide spectrum of missions, environments and threats. IWARS is used to perform analysis on lethality, survivability, effectiveness, mobility and situational awareness.

“With IWARS, rather than having solely scripted behaviors, you start to play with adapted behaviors,” said Angela Boynton, Ph.D. and biomechanist in CCDC DAC’s Human Systems Integration Division. Variability in humans— and their ability to problem solve in unpredictable, abstract and context-specific ways— is difficult to model, but there are efforts to transcend that limitation. “We’re working toward showing the benefits of human effects data in the way IWARS behaves and the types of metrics that can come from it.”

IWARS also represents Soldiers in different roles and dynamic behaviors to ensure inclusive representation of necessary data. For example, Soldier load can be a real stressor, and IWARS examines how this impacts Soldier aim, maneuvers and reactions.

“It’s important to model the human appropriately, not as a robotic system,” said Boynton.

Human Systems Integration

Human Systems Integration, dubbed HSI, recognizes that the Soldier is a key component of the total system and must be able to perform required tasks efficiently for the system to function optimally. HSI aims to evaluate and optimize the ability of humans to effectively use the systems with which they interact. This includes training, acute performance in operation, generating quantitative data to determine systems performance and usability, weapon assessment and more. While HSI touches the entire lifecycle of the system acquisition process, its analyses maximize Soldier products to be safe, intuitive, reliable and functional within a squad.

CCDC DAC’s HSI Division looks to Soldier Touchpoints to gather qualitative data essential to pushing the mission forward. Throughout this iterative process of bringing fine-tuned technology to the battlefield, Soldier Touchpoints solicit feedback from Soldiers most likely to use the piece of equipment. Interviews and surveys provide a venue for Soldiers’ opinions on diverse capabilities, including suggestions for improvements. Industry can then correct shortfalls based on feedback and implement changes for the next round of Soldiers to assess the equipment, establishing a systematic process that ensures Soldiers are the driving force behind all Army product designs.

“It’s not just evaluating a piece of equipment,” said Boynton. “It’s evaluating a piece of equipment as used by an individual or a squad.”

Ultimately, putting technology in the hands of Soldiers early in the process ensures that the Army develops impactful Soldier-centric innovation, enhancing overall system effectiveness and increasing advantage on the battlefield.

Room to Grow

CCDC DAC has been identified as the appropriate leading steward for representing human behavior and performance based on their strengths, future-focused capabilities and willingness to forge forward, together. Center employees are also aware that there is space to expand, grow and fill in gaps.

“If we look at how human performance plays into performance in all commodity areas, I think we’ll come across additional opportunities to collaborate and incorporate human performance in other ways,” said Howard.

Dr. Angela Boynton, CCDC DAC biomechanist, collects various types of data as Soldiers complete tasks in a real-world environment during a load carriage system evaluation conducted in 2019.
Dr. Angela Boynton, CCDC DAC biomechanist, collects various types of data as Soldiers complete tasks in a real-world environment during a load carriage system evaluation conducted in 2019. (Photo Credit: Angie Boynton) VIEW ORIGINAL

Boynton, who has worked for the Army for 19 years, acknowledges a fundamental shift in the way the Army is bringing together connected efforts to look at the Soldier holistically, using human performance tools to accurately represent human behavior. Increased emphasis on Soldier Touchpoints, incorporation of human effects into IWARS and the unifying representation development of SSTAF are just three examples of this progress.

The Army must continuously make advancements to its processes and technologies to remain primed and ready as the world’s most elite combat force, and accurate models and simulations are vital in doing so. M&S is used in testing and evaluation; intelligence and acquisition scenarios; and Soldier training to help Soldiers acquire and hone critical warfighting skills, gain familiarity with an environment and rehearse missions. Ensuring that representation is accurate, realistic and Soldier-focused is indispensable.


The CCDC Data and Analysis Center is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. Visit the CCDC website at or DAC’s website at