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Wargaming the Far Future working group report

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PAXsims is pleased to present the report of the “Wargaming the Far Future” working group, ably assembled by Stephen Downes-Martin. This 276 page (!) document contains the papers written by the working group, their discussions while they wrote and refined those papers from November 2018 to June 2019, and the discussions at the workshop held during the Connections US Wargaming Conference in August 2019.

Our most potent power projection and warfighting capabilities, developed in response to current and near future threats, are technologically advanced, hugely expensive, and have half- century service lives. The first of these characteristics gives us a temporary and possibly short lived warfighting edge. The second grants our political leaders short lived economic and political advantages. The last characteristic locks us into high expenses in maintenance and upgrades for many years in order to justify the initial sunk costs as though they were investments. This combination forces us onto a high-inertia security trajectory that is transparent to our more agile adversaries, providing them with credible information about that trajectory while giving them time to adapt with cheaper counter forces, technologies and strategies.

We must therefore wargame out to service life, the “far future”, to ensure our current and future weapons systems and concepts of operations are well designed for both the near term and the far future. However a 50 year forecasting horizon is beyond the credibility limit for wargaming. The Working Group and the Workshop explored and documented ways that wargaming can deal with this horizon.

Papers and comments are contributed by Stephen Aguilar-Milan, Sebastian J. Bae, Deon Canyon and Jonathan Cham, Thomas Choinski, John Hanley, William Lademan, Graham Longley-Brown and Jeremy Smith, Brian McCue, Ed McGrady, Robert Mosher, Kristan Wheaton, and of course, Stephen himself.


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2 responses to “Wargaming the Far Future working group report

  1. Joe Saur 07/11/2019 at 11:57 am

    Given the recent discussions of (especially) Chinese demographic trends (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/china-is-facing-a-precarious-future-thanks-to-a-force-it-cant-defeat-demographics/2019/11/01/ec052d88-fa5e-11e9-8190-6be4deb56e01_story.html, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/china-is-facing-a-precarious-future-thanks-to-a-force-it-cant-defeat-demographics/2019/11/01/ec052d88-fa5e-11e9-8190-6be4deb56e01_story.html). I found it interesting that there were only two mentions of demographics, or demographic trends. At least two novels (‘Red Storm Rising’, ‘Ghost Fleet’) are based on wars started under the assumption that ‘We’re strong now; in the near/far future we will be weak; now is the time to strike!’

  2. Stephen Downes-Martin 05/11/2019 at 10:13 pm

    Reference “However a 50 year forecasting horizon is beyond the credibility limit for wargaming.”

    I should have written “However a 50 year forecasting horizon is beyond the credibility limit for current methods of wargaming.” Hence the Working Group.

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