Granular ABM Simulations for Operational Use: Forecasting and What-if Experiments with Models of Kandahar and Kunduz

Brandon Alcorn, Miguel Garces, Ian S. Lustick

In this paper we report and discuss results of an effort to adapt country-level modeling
techniques developed in DARPA’s Integrated Crisis Early Warning System
(ICEWS) program to produce forecasts and analyses at a much more granular level,
focusing on districts in Kandahar and Kunduz, Afghanistan. The challenge of this
work in Afghanistan is not only to bridge theoretical models to operational needs at
an appropriate level of granularity, but also to overcome modeling obstacles that are
unique to Afghanistan, at least in comparison with the national models that were the
focus of the ICEWS project. We briefly describe our modeling methodology,
including specific steps taken to account for the challenges listed above, before
moving to a analysis of the results of our experiments. Findings and forecasts are reported from baseline models of Kandahar and Kunduz provinces built with the
most recent open-source data available as well as several “what-if” and “in light of”
analyses that explore counterfactual futures of Kandahar and Kunduz provinces
associated with an ISAF drawdown, militia disarmament, and a string of political
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If you are interested in replicating this experiment, please contact the authors for replication resources.

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