Decision-Theoretic Military Operations Planning

Douglas Aberdeen, Sylvie Thiébaux, and Lin Zhang

Military operations planning involves concurrent actions, resource assignment, and conflicting costs. Individual tasks sometimes fail with a known probability, promoting a decision-theoretic approach. The planner must choose between multiple tasks that achieve similar outcomes but have different costs. The military domain is particularly suited to automated methods because hundreds of tasks, specified by many planning staff, need to be quickly and robustly coordinated. The authors are not aware of any previous planners that handle all characteristics of the operations planning domain in a single package. This paper shows that problems with such features can be successfully approached by realtime heuristic search algorithms, operating on a formulation of the problem as a Markov decision process. Novel automatically generated heuristics, and classic caching methods, allow problems of interesting sizes to be handled. Results are presented on data provided by the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation.

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