Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

79th MORS Symposium wargame AAR

The 79th annual symposium of the Military Operations Research Society, held at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey in June, featured the first-ever analytical wargame held during a MORS annual meeting—in this case a modified version of James Dunnigan’s simple WWII game Drive on Metz.

There’s an article on the game in the September 2011 issue of the MORS bulletin Phalanx. Those involved in advising, facilitating, conducting, or participating in the exercise apparently included some of the luminaries of professional wargaming in the US, including (in addition to Dunnigan) Peter Perla, and a number of friends of PAXsims.

Interesting as it is, I must admit the piece left me rather wondering what had been achieved, especially in a setting where a great many people must already be familiar with much more complex military wargames and staff exercises, even if they aren’t familiar with hobby/commercial military boardgames. Part of the reason may be that while an objective of the exercise was to “[learn] how to prepare, field, execute, and derive meaningful analytical information from military wargaming as a unique analytical tool” there’s not a lot of information on this within the article itself. Since Drive on Metz was deliberately designed as a very simple, introductory wargame to begin with (it was included as an example in Dunnigan’s Complete Wargames Handbook, and features less than 20 playing piece and a single combat resolution chart), I wonder how many new players from military or operations research backgrounds might have been disappointed with the (deliberate) lack of sophistication. Of course, the game was modified and adjudicated in the MORS setting, so perhaps this added additional layers of complexity. The adjudication, monitoring and instrumentation of wargaming can be an art and science in itself, but again the article doesn’t give much sense of how the demonstration highlighted this.

Of course, I might well be missing a big part of the picture here—I wasn’t able to attend the MORS annual symposium, since it is limited to US citizens. If you were there and have some details or insight to contribute as to how the experiment went, feel free to contribute it in the comments section below!

3 responses to “79th MORS Symposium wargame AAR

  1. Swen 07/11/2011 at 5:35 am

    Interesting information and wonderful to share it at Pax Sims.


  2. Mike Cosgrave 07/11/2011 at 6:55 pm

    I’ve read the article, and I am also puzzled. It looks like they made a major production out of introducing some newbies to a very simple wargame, and working out how to stage it. Apart from using walkie-talkies, I do this with undergrads every year. I guess one could do research on the effects of the staging on the learning process, altering elements of the process in different runs; would that justify spending so much effort on staging the game?

  3. Paul Vebber 14/11/2011 at 1:10 pm

    The purpose was not about staging the game, but using it as a way to introduce young analysts to the the ins and outs of operational decision-making and the analysts roll in CPX style excercises. The game was just a vehicle to get to planning, course of action decision-making and what sort of things go on during these sorts of events. As a player during the event and an experienced ops analyst, my role inthe game was not just to play, but to mentor the young anlaysts participating as to how this simple excercise realted to more complicated “real world” CPXs.

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