Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 18/03/2015

Armstrong: The Navy Needs a Wider Look at Wargaming


In an op ed today in the US Naval Institute News, Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Armstrong calls upon the US Navy to reexamine and reinvigorate its wargaming practices:

Today, wargaming is absent from the core curriculum at the Naval War College. The games which occur in Newport are conducted only by special small groups of select students. This isn’t enough. A reinvigorated program should look to expand this experience across more of the student body in Newport, as well as National Security Studies students at the Naval Postgraduate School, and even look at including the Fleet Seminar programs.

The Navy should also develop ways to introduce wargaming at fleet concentration areas at the Type Command level and below. Modern technology can be used to create gaming systems which offer more elaborate, and even sometimes exciting, versions of old school “table top” games or wardroom workshops. For example, crews from a Destroyer Squadron could use a computer based system to fight crews from an opposing Destroyer Squadron, testing some of the foundational ideas of the new “Distributed Lethality” concept. Rather than scripted training evolutions built on doctrinal and procedural compliance, the Navy should give its innovative junior leaders an opportunity for what gamers call “free play” to explore new ideas and tactical concepts.

Work’s call to reinvigorate wargaming is vital to addressing the numerous threats and developments of the 21st century. However, it does not go far enough. The Navy must look to its history to chart an even more effective course forward. By developing our wargaming at all levels, both for the senior leaders and analysts in the Pentagon but also for our creative junior leaders across the fleet and in our education system, we will continue to lead the world in understanding the future character of war and evolving our position as the world’s leading maritime power.

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