What are these things? And, more to the point, what value do they provide?
I can answer the first question fairly simply: Proprietary modeling, simulation and analysis networks created during the last decade by each of the major defense contractors.
The question of their value is more interesting to me. Here's an excerpt from an article I wrote in Flight International in 2004:
[The Pentagon's] ultimate goal is to connect the BIC with simulation networks owned by other companies, such as Northrop Grumman's Cyber-Warfare Integration Network. "We all have that same goal," says Northrop Grumman.
After all, the customers' money would be wasted if each corporate modeling network was unable to use a competitors' products. The Armed Forces Journal put it this way in a 2005 article:
"In the stampede to build M&S labs and explore the future through modeling, there lurks a danger that the future systems that emerge from this technology's crystal gazing could end up being interoperable only with those other systems developed out of the same labs. In other words, each lab with its own modeling tools and languages would spawn the proprietary, stove-piped systems that the armed forces are insisting are no longer acceptable."
Indeed, only a month ago I attended a presentation at Lockheed's grandiose Lighthouse facility in Suffolk, Va. Lockheed's engineers presented a simulation of a combat search and rescue mission. All of the aircraft involved in the simulation were made by, of course, Lockheed. All of them, that is, except for one: the one aircraft in the entire simulation that was shot down!
So has the dream of an interoperable, interconnected network of corporately-owned modeling and simulation labs been lost, despite the taxpayer's indirect investment in them through higher corporate overhead charges?