Strategy Development Assistant

The Strategy Development Assistant (SDA) is a knowledge-based system for aiding Air Campaign Planning. Specifically, the SDA addresses the problem of decomposing high-level objectives into more specific objectives. It is one of Information Sciences Institute's Loom-based applications for DARPA's JFACC program.


The SDA provides suggested decompositions for (some) objectives in an air campaign plan based on the current situation and high-level goals. The goal is to provide guidance to a planner in the early phases of air campaign plan development, when broad objectives such as "Stop invading forces" and "Protect Lines of Communication" are being developed. The SDA provides guidance based on good planning practices from the strategies-to-tasks methodology of planning.

Source of Knowledge

The SDA uses knowledge of air campaign planning that is encoded in templates that describe how to decompose plan objectives. This knowledge was developed by following a theory of air campaign planning obtained from an expert in this area.

Currently the SDA implements templates based on the JOUST theory of strategy development by John Thomas ( of Aegis Research. Given the flexible nature of the SDA architecture, decomposition templates based on other planning theories could also be developed.

System Structure

The SDA is implemented using the Loom knowledge representation language as its knowledge repository. The decomposition templates are encoded in the Loom language and along with an ontology oftheory planning and a domain theorry, form the knowledge-base for the application. Additional code for the inference engine is also present in the SDA server. A Java-based client can be invoked from the Mastermind plan editor. The interface is described in the next section. An overview of the architecture follows:

SDA Interface

The interface to the SDA is used present plan decompositions to military planners in an early phase of air campaign planning. The choice of decompositions is template-driven, based on a set of underlying assumptions. The interface details the assumptions, allows the user to modify the values of the assumptions and thus captures the assumptions underlying the plan. The SDA is a truly mixed-initiative planning system. All elements of the interface design are geared towards giving the user total control of the decisions taken in the decomposition process.

A document describing our design goals presents more details, and also explains the philosophy behind the interface.

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