Pre-Exercise Overview

CASL works closely with sponsors to develop an exercise tailored to desired objectives and outcomes. Listed below are key issues to consider before developing an exercise.

To request an exercise, or for more information, please fill out the Exercise Request Form.

Game Execution Cycle:


1.  Goal, Objectives, Questions and Desired Outcomes Goal.  An exercise goal is the overarching purpose of the game and who it is for.  The goal answers two questions:  What does the exercise do?  Who is the exercise for? Example:  Exercise PIVOTAL CROSSROADS provides a forum for policy makers, strategists, and interagency partners to examine the economic and security challenges of the Caspian Sea region and assess their impact on U.S. interests. Objective(s).  Objectives describe what participants must do, in order to achieve the exercise goal.  Because they describe action, objectives are written using action verbs (i.e. consider, explore, examine, determine, imagine, validate, etc.) Examples: 

  •  Consider strategic-level policy options to advance U.S. interests in the Caspian Sea region and their likely effectiveness.
  • Assess the extent to which current U.S. government organizational and management structures support or hinder the effective implementation of strategies, plans, and policies.
  • Explore how U.S. strategic interests in the region align with or diverge from those of Russia, China, the European Union, and other international stakeholder.

Questions.  Questions identify what participants must know, in order to fulfill one or more objectives.  Depending on the objective, one or more questions may be needed to inform it. Example: Consider strategic-level policy options to advance U.S. interests in the Caspian Sea region and their likely effectiveness.

  • What are U.S. interests in the Caspian Sea region?
  • Are current U.S. policies in the Caspian Sea region effective?
  • If so, what if U.S. interests change?  Would current policies still be effective?
  • If not, what other policies might the U.S. consider?  How effective might they be?

2. Event Structure and Methodology: CASL tailors the exercise approach based on the goals of the exercise. Click HERE for the various options available.

3. Scenario CASL tailors the scenario approach based on the goals of the exercise.

4. Execution CASL works with the sponsor to execute the logisitics of the exercise most effectively.

5. Analysis CASL staff write an after action report which captures stakeholder’s comments and key takeaways from the exercise dialogue.

6. Lessons Learned Stakeholders receive after action report approx. 1 month post exercise.

Questions for Consideration:

1. What are your organization’s objectives and expectations of the exercise (i.e., what do you want to achieve)?

2. What are the key issues you would like stakeholders to discuss during the exercise? What are the topical boundaries of this exercise? What is the scope and scale of this exercise (how broad of an issue focus or direct focus do you want)?

3. Are there topics which should be avoided?

4. Who are the stakeholders (participants) that need to be present in order for the event to achieve its goals and objectives? (i.e. are there people that should attend that are not on the attached list?)

5. Are there gaps or areas of disagreement in the coordination of policies that would merit exploration?

6. Are there any non-governmental persons that we should consider either inviting to participate or consulting with during exercise development?

7. What other Department/Agency personnel should we consult with? (Who else NEEDS a say in the development process?)

8. Many decisions about the scope of the objectives, core questions, scenario and participants will be put to you as we plan the exercise; who would you like us to reach out to for such decisions?

9. What level of classification would you envision as being needed for a productive discussion?

What questions do you have for us?