Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 04/05/2012

simulations miscellany, 4 May 2012

Some recent items that might be of interest to PAXsims readers:

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There’s been yet another public wargame of a possible Israeli strike on Iran, this time conducted by the national-religious Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon. According to one account of the game:

The simulation was carried out with the participation of former Government Secretary Yisrael Maimon as a member of the “Octet” of trusted ministers and Home Front Minister; Iran expert Dr. Eldad Pardo as the Iranian regime; Maj. Gen. (ret.) Eitan Ben Eliyahu as a senior member of the Octet; Begin-Sadat Center Chairman Prof. Efraim Inbar as the Prime Minister; Dr. Mordechai Kedar as “the Palestinians,” Hizbullah and the Arab countries; journalist Amit Segal as Israeli and world press; journalist Ofer Shelach as Preient Barack Obama and Makor Rishon journalist Amnon Lord as game administrator.

According to the game’s premise, on October 14 and 15, four independent and reliable Mossad intelligence sources indicate that Iran has begun transferring its strategic nuclear equipment to underground sites in Qom. Military Intelligence, meanwhile, determines that Iran was ready to enrich weapons-grade uranium.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lulls the press into complacency by maintaining a seemingly regular schedule in Jerusalem. In the pre-dawn hours of October 16, the IDF launches Operation Yahalom (“Diamond”). The nuclear sites at Natanz and Arak are bombed, as are several other nuclear plants and research centers. Ten IAF jets are shot down….

I’ve added this game to my ever-growing list of Israel-Iran-(US) wargames at the Wargaming Connection website.

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PAXsims gets a shout-out in a new CNA study by Will McCants on Science and Technology for Communication and Persuasion Abroad, prepared for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office, Emerging Capabilities Division. The report addresses “social interaction technology” (social media such as Facebook or Twitter), persuasive technologies (such as digital gamification), and “immersive virtual environments and simulation gaming.” In the latter case, it takes up a suggestion that we’ve made in the past about the value of extending military simulation expertise to a broader professional audience (emphasis added, for footnotes see original):

The U.S. military is in its development of immersive technology and simulation games, particularly for training purposes. Indeed, the US military is so proficient in creating immersive virtual environments it could use that proficiency and its gaming capabilities to build ties to non-military institutions. For example, the US military might offer the NGO (non-governmental organization) community assistance with training exercises, crisis simulations, and so forth. Such assistance would foster positive attitudes toward the military, better acquaint the military with NGO needs and dynamics, and prepare both parties to deal with sudden crises.

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The On Violence blog has a post entitled” “Wargaming or: Men Are Not Blocks of Wood” that draws upon Stephen Vincent Benet’s epic poem John Brown’s Body (1928) to contrast the difference between the antiseptic process of wargaming and operation planning and the lived, emotional, life-and-death experience of soldiers on the battlefield.

If you take a flat map
And move wooden blocks upon it strategically,
The thing looks well, the blocks behave as they should.
The science of war is moving live men like blocks.
And getting the blocks into place at a fixed moment.
But it takes time to mold your men into blocks
And flat maps turn into country where creeks and gullies
Hamper your wooden squares. They stick in the brush,
They are tired and rest, they straggle after ripe blackberries,
And you cannot lift them up in your hand and move them.
It is all so clear in the maps, so clear in the mind,
But the orders are slow, the men in the blocks are slow
To move, when they start they take too long on the way –
The General loses his stars, and the block-men die
In unstrategic defiance of martial law
Because still used to just being men, not block parts,

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A fairly new blog—Game Thesis—describes one graduate student’s efforts to develop a serious game on the issue of refugees and asylum seekers as a Masters thesis project:

I have been working on creating a rough outline for the story. My starting point was crystallising much of the research I have been conducting about asylum seekers and refugees into a set of common misconceptions about them which help to shape the goal of the game.

  • Asylum seekers are not ‘queue jumpers’: many only get the choice between losing their life or leaving their home via illegal channels. Following the protocols to become an official refugee is often not an option.
  • Asylum seekers do not ‘have it easy’ when they arrive at a host destination: some are professionals unable to work, most will have to go through years of applications and appeals the be allowed to reside at a host destination.
  • Asylum seekers are not ‘criminals’ or ‘terrorists’: some are sick, others have been through unimaginable trauma, it is not appropriate to treat them as criminals by default.

However, instead of using actual refugee stories as originally intended, I am abstracting some of the many themes I gathered from these stories to make a story that is not specific to any real culture, race or nationality. This gives me more freedom as I am not pointing fingers at any one government or system. Some of these themes are as follows: having to leave one’s home due to religious, political or ethnic persecution, leaving family behind, going on a dangerous and illegal journey, resettlement in an unfamiliar and potentially hostile environment.

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The NGO Right to Play reports on the use of children’s games to reduce ethnic tensions among Sudanese and Congolese refugees in the Rhino Refugee Settlement in northern Uganda.

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