Exclusive Q&A with Federico Santiago Pérez Dueñas. NSMG

Exclusive Q&A with Federico Santiago Pérez Dueñas. NSMG


International Vector


Federico Santiago Pérez Dueñas

NATO Modelling and Simulation Coordination Office


In his Spanish Navy career he was a maneuver and fire officer (Frigate Asturias), a maneuver and electrical officer (oceanographic ship Hespérides), participated in the F-100 Frigate program, managed IT systems at Spanish Navy headquarters, was in the Spanish Navy INFOSEC Group, was a member of the C.C.E.A. Computer Security Unit, was at the Center for Operations research before moving to the Modelling and Simulation Coordination Office.

Dueñas graduated from Spanish Navy Officer School in 1990, received a Master’s degree in computer science from the Spanish Navy Computer School in 1996. He then earned a Masters in computer security from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

In 2005, A bachelor of science degree in mathematics in 2008 and a Master of of Science in Operations Research in 2011.

CAE September




Q: Let’s start with some generalities about the NATO Modeling and Simulations Group (NMSG)—a little about its history, its mission, its size and budget. Also tell me a little about the makeup of the permanent staff and their areas of expertise.


Dueñas: The NMSG is responsible for coordinating and providing technical guidance for NATO M&S activities undertaken by 28 NATO and partner nations, and NATO bodies. It is also the M&S policy management body for the alliance and its partners. As a group working in science and technology (S&T), the NMSG is part of the NATO Science and Technology Organization (STO).

What is the role of the STO in NATO? The STO was established with the idea of providing support to the collective needs of NATO and partner nations in the fields of S&T. As we are talking about collaboration among nations, the highest authority within STO is the Science and Technology Board (STB). This board consists of up to three members from each NATO nation, chosen from government, industry or academia, appointed by national governments. Each nation has one vote in the STB, and the decisions are by consensus. The STB is chaired by the NATO chief scientist, a high level recognized S&T leader of a NATO nation, acting as the senior scientific advisor to the NATO leadership.

Coming back to the STO, I have talked about the STB and the chief scientist, but the real engine of this organization are the following executive bodies:

The Office of the Chief Scientist (NATO HQ, Brussels) providing executive and administrative support to the chief scientist.

The Collaboration Support Office – CSO (Paris, France) providing executive and administrative support to the S&T activities conducted in the framework of the Collaborative Business Model whereby NATO and partner nations contribute their national resources to define, conduct and promote cooperative research and information exchange.

The Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation – CMRE (La Spezia, Italy) organizing and conducting scientific research and technology development and delivering innovative and field tested S&T solutions to address the defense and security needs of the alliance.

The Collaborative Business Model is addressed by seven technical areas (six panels and one group), and NMSG is one of them. The NMSG mission is to promote co-operation among NATO bodies, NATO nations and partner nations to maximize the effective utilization of M&S. The activities of these panels and the group are driven by nations. However, the NMSG business model is a little different with respect to the other panels, as the activities are governed by the NATO M&S Master Plan which was initially approved by the North Atlantic Council (NAC) in 1998. An updated version of this Master Plan has been formally noted by NAC in 2014. The implementation of this plan has allowed the establishment of the NMSG and the MSCO, and the nomination of the NMSG by the Conference of NATO Armaments Directors as the delegated tasking authority for standardization in NATO M&S domain.

As the STB consists of members from each NATO member state at the highest level in their respective nation, NMSG also consists of members representing their nations in the aspects related to modeling and simulation. These members may also be chosen from government, industry, or academia.

A priori, CSO doesn’t have any budget to support the technical activities. Funding for the participation of technical team members in STO activities is the responsibility of the nations. All of our activities and our program of work, are financed by the participating nations; NATO and partner nations. They provide not only the people to do the research, but also the funds for the travel and the locations/means required for the studies, exercises or demonstrations. However, under certain conditions, there are support programs available that allow an individual expert or a Technical Team to receive limited financial support from CSO. When we talk about Technical Teams we are referring for specific research activities which have a defined duration. These research activities can take a variety of forms, including task groups, workshops, symposia, specialists’ meetings, lecture series and technical courses.

In any given year, there are over 450 scientists and engineers from NATO and its partners working on approximately 25 modeling and simulation research activities being conducted by these technical teams. In all cases, these activities result in the publication of highly valued scientific literature published by the STO. An abstract of every publication can be viewed on the CSO’s site (http://www.cso.nato.int/). Depending on their classification, the full text of many of these reports can be downloaded.

The NMSG has no permanent staff. The nations or NATO bodies showing an interest for a particular activity nominate contributing experts which become part of the NMSG program of work during the lifetime of the respective activity. The MSCO is the only full time body in NATO to provide the NMSG with the necessary management and administrative assistance.


Q: How do you communicate and liaison with the in-country M&S agencies and teams and what is the process for sharing technologies and innovations?


Dueñas: As I mentioned previously, the NMSG is composed of representatives from the different NATO nations, and also from some partner nations in the field of modeling and simulation. They act as the liaison with the respective national M&S agencies.

In addition, when a new activity is approved by STB, the nations and NATO bodies with an interest in this activity nominate their scientists or military people to be part of this activity. During the lifetime of the activity, they share their knowledge and experience. The driving factor is the development of research for the nations, by the nations.


Q: When trying to establish standards, what is the process you follow? How complicated is it to develop common standards with so many people at the table?


Dueñas: The NMSG is the Delegated Tasking Authority for Standardization in NATO M&S Domain. Their main responsibilities are to coordinate M&S standardization activities with the committee for standardization and the NATO Standardization Office to validate standardization objectives and proposals and translate them into standardization tasks; and to manage the production and the maintenance of standardization documents.

The general standardization policy of NATO is to use civil standards whenever possible and cooperate with the most suitable Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs) to develop standards of interest to NATO. Hence, we are not working alone. NSMG cooperates with the most suitable civil SDOs on mutually beneficial standardization efforts. Proof of this cooperation is the technical cooperation agreement with the Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization (SISO) signed in Paris July 2007.

A NATO standard is a standard developed by NATO and promulgated in the framework of the NATO standardization process. This process involves the proposal, development, agreement, ratification, promulgation, implementation, and update of the NATO Standards.

Basically, we can differentiate three types of NATO standardization documents: covering documents, allied standards and standard-related documents. It is not my intention to go deeper in this process; I would only like to highlight the covering documents at this point: Standardization Agreement (STANAG) and Standardization Recommendation (STANREC). The STANAG is a NATO covering document that specifies the agreement of member nations to implement a standard, in whole or in part, in order to meet an interoperability requirement. The STANREC is a NATO standardization document that lists one or several NATO or non-NATO standards relevant to a specific alliance activity unrelated to interoperability.


Q: Specifically for industry, are you in a position to funnel industry technologies and solutions to various countries? Is the NMSG in a position to make recommendations based on what each military—and each service within—may be in need of?


Dueñas: The NATO modeling and simulation goal is to exploit M&S to its full potential across NATO and the nations to enhance both operational and cost effectiveness. To comply with this goal, the NATO M&S master plan has defined the following guiding principles:


  • Capitalize on, leverage, and share the existing NATO and national M&S knowledge and assets to enable more effective and affordable capabilities for NATO.
  • Direct the development of common M&S standards and services for simulation interoperability and foster interoperability between command and control and simulation systems.
  • Increase the visibility, accessibility and awareness of M&S to foster sharing and ensure its best exploitation across all NATO M&S application areas.
  • Employ and develop readily available, flexible and cost-effective M&S to improve NATO effectiveness to address the changing nature and increased complexity of the alliance strategic environment.


Hence, taking into account the goal and the guiding principles, our role is not to funnel industry technologies and solutions to nations. It is quite the opposite; the different NATO stakeholders define their needs and requirements, NMSG collects and analyzes them to develop their program of work, and industry has to provide solutions.


Q: Are there specific focus areas—such as LVC, ADL, mobile apps, etc.? By identifying these as focus areas, are you dedicating more resources (people, funding, etc.) to those areas in hopes of driving rewards quicker?


Dueñas: The NATO M&S application areas include, but are not limited to: support to operations, concept development and experimentation (CD&E), mission rehearsal, training and education, and procurement.

Our resources are not driven by quick rewards; they are driven by NATO and the Nations’ needs and requirements. Right now, our main effort is developing interoperability standards, and training.

I would like to highlight the following NMSG activities working in interoperability standards:


  • MSG-134 on “Enabling Distributed Simulation Interoperability and Reuse NATO Distributed Simulation Architecture and Design, Compliance Testing and Certification.” Its objective is to update the NATO Education and Training Network (NETN) and Federate Object Model Design Document (FAFD) to support distributed simulations, and to deliver the integration verification and certification tools (IVCT) to support compliance testing and certification of NETN FAFD compliant simulation components.
  • MSG-136 on “Modelling and Simulation as a Service (MSaaS), Rapid deployment of interoperable and credible simulation environments.” They try to find to the synergy of the service-based approaches with ideas taken from cloud computing. This new M&S ecosystem will provide M&S products, data and processes simultaneously and spontaneously to as many users as often as possible for their individual purposes. This M&S eco-system will have to support stand-alone use as well as integration of multiple simulation systems and real systems into a coherent and distributed simulation environment whenever the need arises.
  • MSG-145 on “Operationalization of Standardized C2-Simulation Interoperability.” NMSG has worked in two standards in the past to allow the interoperability of command and control and simulation systems. Coalition-Battle Management language (C-BML) is a standard that defines an unambiguous language to describe order, report and request for the exchange of digitized military information among command and control (C2), simulation and autonomous systems. In parallel to the development of C-BML, NMSG has worked in Military Scenario Definition Language (MSDL) standard to develop the scenario and to reduce scenario development time and cost, with the additional goal of being able to use the resulting scenario across multiple simulations. MSG-145 is trying to merge both standards to enhance realism and overall effectiveness by faster, more consistent information exchange among systems, to decrease cost and risk by reducing manual input, to reduce the number of supporting personnel and equipment, and to reduce the preparation and response time with rapid configuration, initialization of systems and validation of scenario.


Q: What is the significance of the next generation Simulation for Training and Operations Group that was recently stood up? Is there an established mission for the group and what are its goals?


Dueñas: Their main objectives are to collect information of best practices in the different nations/armed forces and to create an overview of installed simulators for the NMSG or other bodies within the NATO and the nations. In addition, they also look for new standards and try using similar systems to make the exchange of troops and training at different places easier. Ultimately, they try to find the training gaps when using M&S—what would be good to have, what systems are installed and what they are lacking of—to put together a kind of request for industry to research and develop what is needed.


Q: How would you characterize the level of modeling and simulation interoperability between NATO and allied countries? What are the challenges to improving those capabilities?


Dueñas: The NMSG has numerous activities related to interoperability, and we can acknowledge the relevance and interest of those activities in the nations depending on their participation. Our task group working in modeling and simulation as a service, is made up of more than 70 participants from 18 different nations and six NATO organizations working together. It is important to keep in mind that we will never fight alone. The different missions around the world where NATO nations are participating, i.e. Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Mali, etc., involve other nations. Consequently, we seek to include partner nations in our activities, such as Australia, South Korea, Sweden, Finland and Austria.

NMSG has also performed demonstrations, or participated in exercises to show and test the validity of our research. In June this year, the task group working on ”Incremental Implementation of NATO Mission Training through Distributed Simulation Operations (MTDS)” will conduct an exercise with simulators from four different nations, with the aim to implement a persistent MTDS capability supporting operational readiness. In NATO, MTDS is referred to the use of a shared virtual mission environment consisting of networked simulators and command and control systems.

Our main challenge could be more about the scope than technical. As I have already said, we are working on new standards or updating the current ones, but there are areas where we should do more, like interoperability in the maritime, space or cyber domains.


Q: What does your office do to promote better education and understanding of the value of M&S? (conducting training, seminars, exercises, etc.)


Dueñas: NMSG has several activities promoting M&S. In September and October this year, we will have lecture series in Norway, Italy and Turkey on “Command and Control (C2) to Simulation Interoperability.” The lecture series will address the combined use of the Coalition Battle Management Language and Military Scenario Description Language (MSDL). MSDL is used to develop the scenarios and C-BML for execution of military scenarios and to enable interoperation of C2 and simulation systems within a coalition. The first part of the lecture will provide an overview of C-BML and MSDL for all including military commanders and industry leaders. The remainder of the lecture will be focused on military/industry technical staff and will provide detailed technical information on C-BML, MSDL and the C2-simulation program.

NMSG is running another activity working on “NATO M&S Education and Training Curriculum.” This effort is only an exploratory team with the aim of trying to identify current and future educational and training requirements for M&S professionals with NATO and nations. They also want to develop an educational roadmap that defines critical courses for common core education and two key tracks: M&S Technical Professional and M&S Management Professional.

The NATO Education and Training Network (NETN) consists of a persistent infrastructure, distributed training and education tools, and standard operating procedures that enables the nations to collaborate with each other to train their tactical forces and headquarters. NMSG has been working on interoperability, technical standards and architectures to network the NATO and national training and education centers in order to provide a persistent capability.


Q: Is NATO exploring how to harness the power of M&S to understand and better train military and security personnel for the fluid and ill-defined terrorist-type threats, much like seen in Europe recently?


Dueñas: NATO has conducted several analyses to provide a common perspective of the challenges facing the Alliance in decades to come. I am not referring only to the current situation in Ukraine, and the deepening civil war in Syria and the emergence of Daesh. There are other instability sources that we need to take into consideration, such as disruptive impact of mass migration, high-impact cyber threats, large-scale disasters, mega-city turmoil, or non-state actors rival states.

From these analyses, NATO has proposed how alliance forces can transform and has recommended abilities that the alliance may need to develop over the next 15 years.

In NMSG, we have activities analyzing these kinds of situations. One of our task groups is working on “M&S Support for Crisis and Disaster Management Processes and Climate Change Implications.” The aim of the project is to develop a technical platform, to enable a fast, accurate and objective crisis/disaster response plan calculation in complex environment and dynamic conditions. The development includes researches, theory and concept creation, standardization and interoperability improvements.

We also have an exploratory team working on “Hybrid Warfare Modelling and Simulation.” When we talk about hybrid warfare, we are talking about non-conventional warfare based on a broad, complex, adaptive and highly integrated combination of conventional and unconventional means, overt and covert activities, by military, paramilitary, irregular and civilian actors, which are targeted to achieve political and strategic objectives. The objective of this exploratory team is to understand NATO’s role in addressing hybrid threats and to assess the modeling and simulation requirements and shortfalls.


Q: Does your office have a role in understanding how adversaries and potential adversaries are using M&S?


Dueñas: As part of our normal business, NMSG is performing a technology watch. This is a systematic procedure to observe, track, analyze, assess and disseminate information on potentially disruptive technologies in order to identify new relevant technologies that hold the potential to contribute to or enable the development of military capabilities. Technology watch enables the identification of scientific or technical innovation with the potential to create opportunities for breakthroughs or to avoid threats.

The results of these procedures are reflected in tech watch cards where we highlight the disruptive effect of using some specific technology for the friendly forces, and also the disadvantages when this technology is used by the adversary and we don’t have that technology. We are trying to determine the current state-of-the-art of these technologies, but also in the midterm frame, and assess what is needed to get there (funds, collaborative efforts, technology breakthrough, …). Some of our tech watch cards are about decision and planning support in the battlefield, intelligent wizards for fast scenario development, rapid 3D environment modeling and visual analytics.

As a concluding statement, modeling and simulation contributes to saving lives, saving time and money and preparing the warfighter better, faster and cheaper.