Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

McDermott: Psychology, #Wargames, and the Duel


Strategy Bridge kicks off a week of wargaming articles with a piece by Thomas McDermott entitled “In the Mind of the Enemy: Psychology, #Wargames, and the Duel.” McDermott is Director of the Cove, the Australian Army’s professional development network.

In war the duel should be all.  My experience, however, is that too often it is not.  The article will discuss how linear doctrine, a lack of understanding of psychology, and ultimately poor strategy leads to a situation where ‘plans’ become an end in themselves, and not a means to win the duel.  It will suggest two ways to address this problem; the establishment of the field of psychology as a pillar of the modern profession of arms, and a reinvestment in the art of the wargame.

It’s an excellent start to the series, and well worth reading.

2 responses to “McDermott: Psychology, #Wargames, and the Duel

  1. Charles Cameron 27/03/2017 at 2:21 pm

    Speaking of responses to the Dead Prussian podcast’s question “What is War?” Thomas McDermott writes

    >> Nobody so far has said that war is a “game.” Thankfully this isn’t surprising; anyone who has fought in war, or just studied it, will be aware that this would trivialise the destruction that can lie within. But it is also of note that nobody so far has labeled war as a duel. <> Murders, death in all its guises, the reduction and sacking of cities, all must be to us just such a spectacle as the changing scenes of a play; all is but the varied incident of a plot, costume on and off, acted grief and lament. For on earth, in all the succession of life, it is not the Soul within but the Shadow outside of the authentic man, that grieves and complains and acts out the plot on this world stage which men have dotted with stages of their own constructing. All this is the doing of man knowing no more than to live the lower and outer life, and never perceiving that, in his weeping and in his graver doings alike, he is but at play; to handle austere matters austerely is reserved for the thoughtful: the other kind of man is himself a futility. Those incapable of thinking gravely read gravity into frivolities which correspond to their own frivolous Nature. Anyone that joins in their trifling and so comes to look on life with their eyes must understand that by lending himself to such idleness he has laid aside his own character. If Socrates himself takes part in the trifling, he trifles in the outer Socrates. <<

    Shakespeare? Consider the motto of the Globe theater — Totus mundus agit histrionem. All the world enacts a play.

    And a similar thought encomapsses every action in which Krishna is involved, including the battle of Kurukshetra in the Gita and Mahabharata, as lila or play — play in a sense again both playful and theatrical.

    Prhaps there is some benefit to be derived from including such voices in our considerations, as there is in considering contemplation alone with action, and morale along with materiel.

  2. brtrain 27/03/2017 at 3:06 pm

    Great article Rex, thanks!

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