National Defense University (NDU)

The National Defense University (NDU) is an institution of higher education funded by the United States Department of Defense, intended to facilitate high-level training, education, and the development of national security strategy.


Gemstone is a seminar-style game, backed up by computer adjudication. Originally designed to orient new students at NDU’s College of International Security Affairs, the game puts players in senior central government roles in a nation beset by insurgency. Previous exercises have been set in Colombia, with Colombian officials participating, and the Philippines.

Gemstone divides a country into provinces or states. Players allocate resources such as troops, police and economic funding. Their decisions are fed into the computerized adjudication model, and the results are displayed as color-coded outcomes on a scale of red to green. Computer adjudication allows for more consistency over human subjectivity. Professors like having the chance to observe and work with students rather than adjudicate the game.

The simulation is expressly designed to incorporate Field Manual 3-24, the Army’s COIN doctrine. Elements of the doctrine include the game’s focus on lines of operation, including service provision, governance, perceived security, information operations and economic development. There is a lot of emphasis on gaining an understanding of how the parts feed into the whole in 3-24.

Gemstone Support

Gemstone is designed as a support tool for educational exercises aiming to enable greater understanding of counterinsurgencies at the strategic and high-operational level. GameSim is currently hosting this web-based system for NDU. GameSim offered custom software engineering service and hosting for the Department of Defense.

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