PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Jones: Communicating uncertainty in #wargaming outcomes

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Another day, another wargaming article at The Strategy Bridge! This time it is Mark Jones Jr. on  “Communicating Uncertainty in #Wargaming Outcomes.”

If a game were played one hundred times, would the outcome be the same every time? On the one hand, we do not expect the tactical results of this game to appear identical, but would the strategic outcomes appear consistent across countless repeats of game play? Is there any chance that strategic outcomes would vary? If so, how much? It’s certainly expected that small variations of the strategic outcomes may appear in repeated wargaming, but is it plausible to believe that some percentage of outcomes would suggest a completely opposite strategy or strategic outcome? These questions are what we mean when we ask, “How much confidence do we have in the outcome?” Unfortunately, we are ill-prepared to answer this question but not for dearth of tools and technology to make such assessments. Instead, there is a chance that most of us would not accurately comprehend such a confidence statement. This occurs largely because of a lack of shared understanding of a shared language of confidence and uncertainty. To help us build a vocabulary for answering these questions, I would like to propose three foundational rules. First, we should express wargame outcomes both qualitatively and quantitatively. Second, we should attempt to describe the range of possible outcomes. Finally, we ought to assess the frequency of potential outcomes.

Oh, and if the game in the graphic header looks familiar—it’s from Alex Langer’s prototype wargame on the Syrian civil war (one of the best insurgency wargame designs I’ve ever played).

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