S.J. Quinney College of Law

Celebrating 100 Years of
Legal Education (1913-2013)

Simulation History

Professor Amos Guiora has been involved in simulation exercises for 20 years. Guiora was initially exposed to scenario based counterterrorism simulation exercises as part of the promotion process in the Israel Defense Forces Judge Advocate General’s Corps (retired LT COL). Guiora was simulated in a time-sensitive environment requiring complex decision-making emphasizing leadership, collaboration with other participants and the ability to integrate and analyze significant amounts of information. Thereafter, in subsequent senior command postings in the IDF, Guiora participated in additional simulation exercises; furthermore, as commander of the IDF School of Military Law (SML) Guiora had command responsibility for conducting simulation exercises for Judge Advocate Corps cadets.

Watch the 2012 Counterterrorism Documentary >>

Guiora has conducted simulations in numerous forums and venues: American academia, multinational corporations, international NGO’s and armed forces. While each sector has its particular culture and nuanced professional language the simulations confront participants with similar dilemmas reflecting how counterterrorism issues—domestic and international— are strikingly universal. From an educational perspective simulations are particularly effective as students are compellingly confronted with issues essential to their understanding of practical and jurisprudential aspects of the rule of law.

Simulation exercises are an extraordinarily effective pedagogical tool; they provide the student with a ‘hands on’ educational opportunity that combines complex legal and policy dilemmas with real-life operational decision-making. Furthermore, simulations directly facilitate development of understanding the importance and relevance of both leadership and teamwork under stressful, time sensitive conditions where determining the relevance and reliability of information is of critical importance. To that end, the effectiveness of each student is measured, in part, both by an ability to forcefully present the legal and policy aspects of his/her assigned role and to articulate the critical distinctions between tactical and strategic considerations with respect to operational counterterrorism.

To that end, simulation exercises address a wide range of legal dilemmas including limits of state power, self-imposed restraints, constitutional issues including checks and balances and separation of powers, and the interplay between detention, interrogation and trial of individuals suspected of involvement in terrorism. As these are ‘core’ issues for law students, simulation scenarios emphasize dilemmas facilitating addressing, if not resolving, tensions directly related to balancing legitimate individual rights with equally legitimate national security rights of the state.

Classroom discussion in courses such as constitutional law, international law criminal procedure and criminal law doubtlessly contributes to student understanding of core issues. Such discussion develops an ability to articulate both relevant case law and policy considerations; simulation exercises directly–and perhaps dramatically–demand students resolve dilemmas while role-playing decision makers in a time sensitive context.

While the simulation builds on material covered in the classroom there are qualitative and quantifiable differences between the classroom and the simulation exercise. While the former builds the necessary pedagogical foundation for the latter the two require distinct skill sets that, in conjunction, significantly contribute to development of a more intellectually nimble student. If effectively combined together the two—classroom and simulation— provide students with unique opportunities to develop a sophisticated understanding of terrorism, rule of law, decision making, teamwork, leadership the limits of power and interfacing with the media and public.

Essential to the simulation’s success is student awareness of geo-politics; to that end emphasizing both domestic (US) and international developments and analyzing how decision makers seek resolution (addressing legal, policy and operational considerations) is essential to successful participation in the simulation. By discussing contemporary operational counterterrorism (i.e., US policy with respect to drone missile attacks in Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan and NATO attacks in Libya) and impromptu role playing in regular class sessions facilitates student understanding of how the same scenario is viewed differently depending on the role/position.


The 2010 Sim

Below is the 3 minute synopsis video for the 2010 Counter-terrorism Simulation. Visit the Counter-terrorism Simulation home page to view the entire 2010 documentary.


The 2009 Sim

The 2009 simulation has expanded compared to 2007 both in complexity and the number of dilemmas students are asked to address and resolve. By introducing conflicting intelligence reports, press conferences and uncooperative allies the dilemmas of the decision maker are substantially increased.


The 2007 Sim

This documentary short features Professor Guiora’s first counter-terrorism simulation at S.J. Quinney College of Law. It was primitive by comparison to later years in terms of technological advancement and realism, but the end effect was still powerful.