PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

“Crimson Contagion” – What Can We Learn?

The New York Times today broke a well reported and detailed story about pandemic flu wargaming that had been done from the late Obama into the Trump administrations here

The signature item in the article was an exercise codenamed CRIMSON CONTAGION, the  AAR of which bears serious reading.

The article touches on many important process and methodology issues, especially as related to gaming at the very highest political level. It is worth reading for all of us in the community, and I expect, will be the subject of much further unpacking in the near future.

Of special note, since we here at PAXsims are always promoting the wisdom of co-editor Stephen Downes-Martin, is the question of what the utility of gaming is after the original customer moves on? (see Stephen’s famous Three Questions to ask a game sponsor – including “When do you rotate?”)

“But by the time the current crisis hit, almost all of the leaders at the table — Mr. Tillerson, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Perry among them — had been fired or moved on.

In 2018, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser at the time, John R. Bolton, ousted Mr. Bossert and eliminated the National Security Council directorate, folding it into an office dedicated to weapons of mass destruction in what Trump officials called a logical consolidation.”

Image result for john bolton shrugging

In the blog over the last week we have highlighted the Do No Harm principal. It is important for us all as practitioners to keep that front and center when gaming with people’s lives. But this story also demonstrates again where there may have been serious utility to using gaming to shape policy – with accurate data, well informed science, and serious attention from high level decision makers. It also shows how easy it is for the power of this tool to be shelved, sidelined, or fall through the cracks.


For further resources, see PAXsim’s COVID-19 serious gaming resources page.

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