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Jeff Appleget, PhD

Senior Lecturer, Operations Research
COL, U.S. Army (Ret)

Dr. Jeff Appleget is a retired Army Colonel who served as an Army Operations Research analyst at the Center for Army Analysis (2 years) and the TRADOC Analysis Center (10 years, serving tours at TRAC-Monterey, TRAC-White Sands Missile Range, TRAC-Fort Leavenworth, and TRAC Headquarters). He holds a doctorate in Operations Research from the Naval Postgraduate School, a masters in Operations Research and Statistics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a bachelors from the United States Military Academy. He coordinates NPS research projects with the Joint Warfare Analysis Center (JWAC), and is the NPS program lead for a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Lockheed Martin Space Systems. He teaches the Wargaming Analysis, Combat Modeling, Statistics, and co-teaches Modeling and Simulation of Societies in Conflict and Survey Research Methods courses at NPS. He also develops and teaches week-long Wargaming and Modeling and Simulation courses, with the most recent Wargaming course conducted at Offut AFB for STRATCOM, and the most recent Modeling and Simulation course conducted in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, for the Tajikistan government in support of the U.S. Partnership for Peace Training and Education Center. Appleget is the 2021 recipient of the Mills Medal.

Operations Research and Operations Management have brought about significant improvements to operations in diverse domains, including military, manufacturing, services and the knowledge economy. How do you anticipate your work with the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab and your contributions to the USMC force design will impact the first battle of the next war? 

One word – preparation! By examining future security environments using wargaming and simulation, we can reveal potential challenges and opportunities that will allow the Marine Corps to better position itself, by testing and refining new concepts and technologies, to succeed in future conflicts.


Operations Research (specifically modeling and wargaming) has changed over the years from broader analysis to more specific problems. What are the areas where ops researchers are making the greatest contribution to our nation’s defense today? 

Our best Operations Research analysts are stretching the boundaries of their knowledge by embracing new tools, techniques, and procedures to advantage our nation’s defense. Our allies and partners are adding so-called “soft” operations research techniques to their toolkits to great advantage. Hybrid threats both in Europe and the Western Pacific demand that we look at tools such as foresight analysis and morphological analysis to better understand the challenges adversaries employing hybrid warfare will pose to the U.S., NATO and our other allies and partners. Understanding the implications of kinetic conflict is easy in comparison!


How does NPS’ mostly military student body uniquely position the NPS OR Dept to take on the challenges of wargaming?

The students typically bring nearly a decade of tactical and operational military experience into the classroom. This allows us to address the complex and challenging wargaming topics that our DOD, allies, and partners bring to us. We form the students into 4-6 student wargaming teams, and the mix of services, experiences, and sometimes academic backgrounds is critical to providing a broad yet rigorous examination of the sponsor’s key wargaming issues.


How did your education in Operations Research at the various institutions you attended differentiate, specifically between civilian OR and Military OR? 

First, while my master’s degree in OR and Statistics from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute was a challenging and valued educational experience, it did not provide the military OR knowledge that we provide our NPS students. In particular, our Joint Combat Modeling, Joint Campaign Analysis, and Wargaming Applications courses are the critical difference makers that ensure the NPS OR degree uniquely serves the best interests of our nation’s armed forces. Through these courses, our students begin paying back their education before graduation by providing DOD sponsors insights into the challenges of our current and future security environments that these courses address. These courses also serve to get the students refocused on the military challenges their services and nations are facing, so when they graduate from NPS they are ready to hit the ground running and apply their OR skills immediately. As an Army Operations Research Colonel, I advocated for EVERY Army OR analyst to attend NPS. I knew that analysts who received a civilian OR education would need six months to a year to come up to speed and fully contribute to the organization’s analytical missions. NPS OR students were ready to go when they came in the door!


How did your own education and experience in the military inform how you educate current students?

I’ve learned that 50 minutes of lecture are usually sub-optimal when I’m teaching applied courses such as wargaming and combat modeling. The students need to get involved, learn by doing, hands on education. My experience as an Army operations research officer and leader taught me that OR problems are almost always best addressed by teams, not individuals, and I apply that in the classroom. So while there are still some lectures and some quizzes in my courses, it’s much more common to see teams of students working on group solutions to real-world military problems that we’ve brought into the NPS classroom through our network of contacts throughout the Navy and our other services, allies and partners.

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