PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Gardiner on wargaming as an overlooked educational tool

BAR.jpgThe most recent issue of British Army Review 165 (Winter 2016) contains an article by Lt Col Ivor Gardiner on the merits of commercial wargames as a tool for officer education:

Within the British Army, wargaming is primarily used as part of the Seven Questions (7Qs) of the Combat Estimate. However, it lacks a proper adversarial element. During the planning phase, the plan will become awed if most, or all, dangerous enemy actions and responses have not been articulated.

The missing aspect in British military wargaming is the adversarial. It is this aspect, and the replacement of military judgement by the use of variable factors and the ever maligned use of dice to determine outcomes, which results in much of the misperceptions directed towards wargaming. The result is usually a somewhat dismissive attitude and an assertion that it is a game of dice not much different from Risk and is more associated with ‘childish things’.

In the piece he discusses his experience using commercial wargames within the 1st Battalion the Royal IRISH, and highlights its value for staff training, complimenting battlefield studies, and force and capability development.

Historical legacy in professional military wargaming is proven. I think we can draw much from the importance ascribed to wargaming by the Prussian Army. It would be trite to say Prussian military success was based on wargaming, but nobody could deny that the emphasis placed on the conceptual and educational aspects of training Prussian – and later German – officers, partly through the medium of wargaming, did not make a significant contribution. This utility has been recognised by British thinkers such as H.G. Wells and Basil Liddell Hart; more recently strongly encouraged by Major General (Ret’d) Andrew Sharpe CBE, who retired as Director of the Defence Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) and now heads up the newly established Centre for Historical Analysis and Critical Research (CHACR). Yet we fail to fully appreciate this fantastic tool. We place an emphasis on Understanding of the environment on modern operations, yet still fail ourselves to fully Understand the value that can be added to military conceptual development through the simple and affordable medium of commercial wargaming.

You’ll find the full piece here.

h/t Tom Mouat 


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One response to “Gardiner on wargaming as an overlooked educational tool

  1. brtrain 19/02/2016 at 1:24 pm

    I understood that LCOL Gardiner also used A Distant Plain as orientation material for his staff before the battalion deployed to Helmand, and thought highly of it. I was pleased to hear that.

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