Page Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 November 2020 11:34 EDT, 2017, 2018, 2020

Complex Operational and Organizational Problems

PROJECT: Unconventional Conflict and Modern Conflict Ontology Development

Dr. Dean S. Hartley III

Project Metadata Keywords
Label Name Other Year DurationYrs
Client Hartley Consulting none Commercial
Dates 2017 4
Employer Hartley Consulting
Partner N/A
Pubs Unconventional Conflict: A Modeling Perspective author 2017
Pubs An Ontology for Unconventional Conflict author 2018
Pubs An Ontology of Modern Conflict: Including Conventional Combat and Unconventional Conflict author 2020
Configuration management
Consequence Management
Data collection
Data Verification & Validation
Database design
Documentation standards
Geopolitical analysis
Global War on Terrorism (GWOT)
Human factors
Human, Social, Cultural Behavior (HSCB) Modeling
Impact analysis
Independent Verification & Validation (IV&V)
Information storage and retrieval
Irregular Warfare (IW)
Knowledge Management (KM)
Model/System integration
Modeling, Simulation & Gaming (MSG)
Network analyses
Operations Other Than War (OOTW)
Software issues
Software reuse
Stability Operations (SASO, SSTR)
Verification, Validation & Accreditation (VV&A)
Warfare modeling


Extend the total ontology of the elements needed for modeling Irregular Warfare (IW) to an ontology for Unconventional Conflict and then to an ontology for Modern Conflict.


Many IW analysis tasks require tools to describe complex operational environments (OE). TRAC is developing ontologies to support consistent representations of the state of the OE and describe actors performing actions that affect the OE. Ontologies use controlled vocabularies to help formalize the relationships between concepts, simplify information interchange, provide a catalog of variables to use as a starting point, provide common terms to communicate about concepts, and guide efforts to acquire, develop and use data. The TRAC ontologies include Goal-Task-Owner (GTO) sets to describe the tasks performed by organizations to achieve goals and provide Use Cases for the factions that represent various perspectives in IW situations. The initiative is derived from the TRAC IW Metric Ontology project, the Total IW Ontology independent research and development project, and the second TRAC ontology project, IW Ontology 2.

Unconventional Conflict (UC):

We start with the understanding that conflict can range from disagreements between two individuals all the way to global thermonuclear war. One implication of this statement is that the conflict is between or among human beings; however, a broader definition allows for situations in which one of the parties of the conflict is a force of nature, perhaps an erupting volcano, which engenders many of the same actions that would take place in some purely human conflicts.

Here, we will narrow the domain somewhat, omitting conventional and nuclear warfare (although not omitting dirty bombs and stolen nuclear weapons) and omitting conflicts that are not of interest to nation-states. In this domain, military actions of all types often form a large part of the total activity of the conflict. National militaries may or may not be in charge (often the national diplomats, such as the U.S. Department of State, are in charge of the national operations); however, in many cases, the “heavy lifting” is accomplished by the military, whether in combat roles or in logistic roles. Accordingly, we will often use military terminology to describe the operations. There have been many unconventional conflicts in which the United States has not participated; however, this book has been written from a U.S. viewpoint. Thus references to the Departments of Defense and State refer to the U.S. departments and “domestic” refers to U.S. domestic issues.

The results of this work are given in the first two books, listed above.

Modern Conflict (MC):

Modern Conflict is a combination of conventional combat and unconventional conflict. It is not surprising that the addition of conventional combat requires changes to the ontology for unconventional conflict. The changes are significant, but not major.

However, I have taken this opportunity to bring the ontology into closer agreement with the organizational conventions advocated by many professional ontologists.  An OWL version of the ontology can be found here.

The results of this work are presented in the third book above.

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