A Framework for the Representation of Cohesion in Small Combat Units

Date of Award

Spring 2006

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computational Modeling & Simulation Engineering


Modeling and Simulation

Committee Director

Andreas Tolk

Committee Member

James Bliss

Committee Member

Bowen Loftin

Committee Member

Russell J. Rockefeller


Current combat simulations deal well with large unit formations, weapon systems, and physical effects such as attrition. Human factors such as morale, cohesion, and effects of stress are modeled much less adequately. Of the human factors affecting the psychology of a combat unit, military psychologists have identified cohesion as one of the most important. The concept of cohesion, referring to both the interpersonal relationships between soldiers in a military unit and to the morale solidarity of a military force, has been central to military analysis for many years.

A model framework has been developed that can operationalize the concept of cohesion by measuring the relationship between members of a small combat unit to the individual soldier's reaction to battlefield stress. This framework is such that it will be able to be implemented in any modeled environment that has a need to represent cohesion within the context of a training or analysis experiment. To evaluate the assumption of constant human factors, a model was created to represent a classical Greek phalanx unit. Three historically based scenarios were run to validate the model. The results show that a model with the properties defined in the framework can represent a reasonable facsimile of infantry combat showing the effect of stress and cohesion. These results imply possible uses for the framework in the future of military training, analysis and experimentation using computer simulations.





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