Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

The return of wargaming?


Is this wargaming’s MacArthur (“I have returned”) moment? 


At GovTechWorks, Michael Peck provides an overview of the US Department of Defense’s renewed focus on expanding and invigorating wargaming:

Over the past year, at least four directives from the highest levels of the Department of Defense (DoD) and the services, including a February 2015 memo from Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, called for more wargaming.

“I was concerned the Department’s ability to test concepts, capabilities and plans using simulation as well as other techniques, had atrophied,” Work said by email to GovTechWorks. “While resetting and reconstituting the Joint Force after so many years of war, we needed to turn our attention toward numerous emerging challenges to U.S. global leadership.

“In this dynamic environment, Department leaders are making important programmatic decisions to meet those challenges. Wargaming is an important means of informing those decisions and spurring innovation.”

The Pentagon requested more than $55 million for wargaming for fiscal 2017, and more than $525 million over the five-year Future Years Defense Program spending plan.

The new attention has wargame experts not just pleased, but amazed. “Wargaming has gone through periods of popularity and disfavor, but I have never seen in the past 40 years any situation like this with the senior leadership,” says Peter Perla, senior research scientist with the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) and a leading wargaming expert.

You’ll find Michael’s full article here.

For additional background, see also:

Incidentally, the MacArthur-returning-to-the-Philippines image above might also contain a lesson about the dangers of being too ambitious: the General was removed from command in Korea in April 1951 for failing to failing to recognize the limits of his own role. Understanding what analytical gaming doesn’t do well is an essential part of refining its ability to deliver what it can do well.

h/t Marc Guenette  

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