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NEWS | Jan. 11, 2023

NSWC IHD Hosts Innovation and Improvisation Wargame

By NSWC Indian Head Division Public Affairs

Gray zone operations, competitive interactions that fall between the traditional war and peace duality, are an increasingly important battlespace with peer U.S. competitors. To explore the ways of countering aggression in competition before conflict, Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division (NSWC IHD) hosted the Wargame for Innovation and Frontline Improvisation (WiFi) 2022, at the United States Bomb Technician Association and College of Southern Maryland Velocity Center in Indian Head, Maryland, Dec. 12-16. WiFi brought together active duty U.S. military and Department of Defense science and technology professionals to synthesize technology and operational concepts geared specifically to the maritime gray zone.

The wargame specifically sought to explore how existing non-lethal weapons and technologies can be used to further U.S. interests in the competition space and to imagine new tools and tactics for the gray zone. The environment focused on the West Philippine Sea, an intensifying competition area for the past two decades.

“WiFi is different from other wargames in that most wargames fancifully presume that geopolitical inconveniences can be wished away, while taking policy as immovable,” said Dr. Lesley Wilhelm, NSWC IHD customer advocate and WiFi lead.

“WiFi seeks to turn this on its head by bringing together members of the geopolitical community as along with strong representative experts on adversaries as well as allies and partners to appreciate complex geopolitical realities while discussing potential needed changes in policy.”

NSWC IHD Commanding Officer Capt. Eric Correll provided opening remarks and challenged participants to think outside their comfort zone throughout the wargame.

“The term improvisation is in the name of this event for a reason; use it to your advantage,” Correll said. “The next war will be fought differently than those previous; therefore, we must change the way we think about, act and engage with our adversaries.”

“WiFi was groundbreaking in bringing together participants from the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Army and Air Force as well as the technical community of the Naval Warfare Centers to explore better options in the competition phase of engagement,” Wilhelm said.

The event was funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense Wargame Incentive Fund and was co-sponsored by the Joint Intermediate Force Capabilities Office.


NSWC IHD — a field activity of the Naval Sea Systems Command and part of the Navy’s Science and Engineering Establishment — is the leader in ordnance, energetics, and EOD solutions. The Division focuses on energetics research, development, testing, evaluation, in-service support, manufacturing and disposal; and provides warfighters solutions to detect, locate, access, identify, render safe, recover, exploit and dispose of explosive ordnance threats.