The Ohio State University National Security Simulation

The Ohio State University National Security Simulation

Dakota Rudesill

Principal Investigator: Dakota Rudesill, Moritz College of Law

Students in Dakota Rudesill’s National Security Law class last fall had an unusual assignment for their final exam: They participated in a two-day immersive national security simulation held November 14-15, 2014, at Moritz College of Law.

Stepping into the shoes of lawyers, policymakers, intelligence analysts, and reporters, the students dealt with a series of realistic national security crises ripped from the headlines. They had to apply law, policy and facts they had learned in class to navigate the simulation’s outcome.

The Ohio State University National Security Simulation explored decision making in federal executive and legislative branches at the intersection of law and policy regarding national security, under crisis conditions. It was an open-universe, dynamic, immersive simulation that moved in real time over 48 hours. Students had agency, and their decisions dictated outcomes for the story lines.

Participating in the simulation were Mershon Center faculty affiliates Peter Mansoor, who played the president of the United States, and Peter Shane, as well as Mershon graduate student affiliates Daniel Curzon, Rudy Hightower, and Will Waddell. Throughout the event, Rudesill drove the players toward particular issues and dilemmas.

Chief Judge James E. Baker of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and former legal advisor to the National Security Council, gave the keynote address, emphasizing the importance of integrity and good process in decision-making.

Several experienced Washington practitioners including former members of the military and National Security Council played the roles of senior government officials, giving students the experience of working with seasoned leaders with high expectations.

Students from units across the Ohio State campus also participated, including Moritz College of Law, John Glenn School of Public Affairs, School of Communication, International Studies Security and Intelligence, and several other graduate programs.

Besides facilitating cross-pollination at Ohio State and acting as a final exam for students in Rudesill’s National Security Law class, the simulation also built practical skills that are transferrable to any kind of legal, policy or military situation.

These skills include spotting, appraising, and using facts, legal authorities, and processes; developing and appraising options; working in teams; advising leaders and making decisions; exercising judgment and integrity under pressure; protecting confidential information (including but not only its particular national security variety, classified information); and showing adaptation and resilience as the facts, policy, and law change.

The simulation was informed by three similar exercises which Rudesill has had a significant role in designing and running: Georgetown Law’s law-focused National Security Crisis Law simulation, a national security legislative process simulation in Georgetown’s Federal Legislation and Administrative Clinic, and Yale’s policy-focused Grand Strategy Crisis Simulation.

Read more and see photos and videos fromThe Ohio State University National Security Simulation at

The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
The Ohio State University Democracy Studies Program
The Ohio State University Mershon Center for International Security Studies
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Program on Law and Leadership
The Ohio State University School of Communication
The Ohio State University John Glenn School of Public Affairs

Non-Player Characters (NPCs), Judges, and Observers:
James E. Baker, chief judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and former NSC Legal Advisor
Jamie Orr, dean of the School of Criminal Justice at Tiffin University, and retired Navy JAG
Maj. Gen. Tim McMahon (USAF, Ret.)
Rear Admiral Norman Hayes (USN, Ret.)
Col. Frank Titus (USAF, Ret.)
Ya’ara Barnoon, associate, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP
Rock Cheung, former Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of State
Taylor Kline, supervising attorney, Federal Legislation & Administrative Clinic, Georgetown University Law Center
John McMurray, journalist
Ben Presson, Battelle
Kathleen Rice, Counsel, Faegre Baker Daniels, and former counsel, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney
Justin Schardin, Bipartisan Policy Center Financial Regulatory Reform Initiative Associate Director, and former campaign manager and U.S. Senate Legislative Assistant
Lala Qadir, associate, Covington & Burling LLP

Participating faculty, The Ohio State University
Dakota Rudesill, Simulation Director, Moritz College of Law
Peter Mansoor, Department of History, and Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Nicole Kraft, School of Communication
Dean Alan Michaels, Moritz College of Law
Peter Shane, Moritz College of Law
Ric Simmons, Moritz College of Law
John Quigley, Moritz College of Law
Steve Huefner, Moritz College of Law
Terri Enns, Moritz College of Law
Margot Kaminski, Moritz College of Law
Kevin Freeman, Department of Political Science

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