Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 18/04/2020

Herman: The Intersection of Professional and Commercial Wargaming (GUWS)

The following was first posted to Facebook by Christopher Weuve (Air Force Research Laboratory). Reprinted with permission.

On Thursday,  I watched a presention by Mark Herman called “The Intersection of Professional and Commercial Wargaming,” hosted by the Georgetown University Wargaming Society. As expected, Mark had a lot of interesting things to say.

For those who don’t know him, Mark is somewhat of a legend in the wargaming community. Mark is widely recognized within both the DOD and hobby wargaming communities, having started with hobby publisher Simulations Publications, Inc in the 1970s, working as a professional wargamer in the Pentagon for the 1980s and 1990s (including, famously, wargaming the Gulf War in the Pentagon while the initial invasion was still going on), and eventually leading Booz Allen’s wargaming division before his retirement a couple of years ago. Most wargame professionals have their expertise mostly in either the hobby or professional side; Mark’s experience puts him at the top of **both** lists. When you take into account the breadth of his wargaming efforts, he may be the most accomplished wargame professional in history.

A couple of things stood out from his talk. One is that, for a wargame, “the most important decision is who to invite.” The right players are critical.

The second was a slide that Mark put up regarding the utility of wargame. The bullet points are:

  • Wargames approximate and illuminate the human dimension of warfare. All else is commentary.” [He did not name the colleague who said this.]
  • Wargames offer the ability to observe human behavior within a conflict context.
  • Wargames are to Modelling & Simulation what Anthropology is to Mathematics.
  • If wargames had a patron saint it would be Jane Goodall, not James Clerk Maxwell.
  • An insight is a human participant reaching a first order conclusion based on experiences and information uniquely produced in a wargame.

A large portion of the talk consisted of personal examples that highlighted these points.

Christopher Weuve 

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