Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 16/06/2020

Derby House Principles update

We are pleased to announce the latest groups and organizations that have chosen to endorse the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming:

If your organization would like to join, let us know.

Soviet cold war era military dictionaries

“Soviet Style Wargames”

“Soviet Style Wargames”, prepared by John Sloan, Ali Jalali, Gouhlam Wardak, Fred Giessler in 1986

This is a preliminary discussion of what the Soviets taught at the Voroshilov and Frunze academies about the nature of and the methods for conducting wargames. Working with Colonels Jalali and Wardak US analysts of Soviet military issues have been reviewing this subject to see how wargaming in the USSR compares with that in the US. It is clear that the two former colonels in the Afghan army know a great deal about wargaming, more from practical experience in participating in wargames than from formal study of the subject at Soviet schools. This is an attempt to outline their knowledge and start to do comparisons. It may lead to a capability to conduct a full scale Soviet style wargame here in the US. In this way DOD experts and decision makers might learn both the form and style of Soviet wargaming as well as the content of a Soviet style assessment. This could lead to identifying implications of US actions and capabilities based upon conducting Soviet style wargames.

The purpose for conducting a Soviet style wargame is to demonstrate Soviet planning, research, and gaming techniques in action. It is to illustrate Soviet style analysis techniques of the subject used in the game. In addition, it will provide some insight into the likely content of the analysis Soviet war game users might derive from a similar game on the same topic.

In addition to the formal training at the senior military schools, wargaming was one of the activities the Soviets introduced into Afghanistan during their advisory period (1962 – 1979). The purposes of these games were for training, planning, and research. This paper focuses on the role of wargames in support of scientific military study, how the Soviets use wargames, who plays and who controls, where they play them and how they conduct them.

This paper focuses on the development of the role of wargaming in Afghanistan under Soviet advisors, supplemented by information on the theory of wargaming as discussed in Soviet senior military schools. Colonel Wardak attended the Frunze Military Academy and completed the Voroshilov Academy in 1977. Colonel Jalali completed the Frunze Academy in 1980.

From the Introduction

“Soviet Threat Series” US Army FM 100-2

“These field manuals serve as the definitive source of unclassified information on Soviet ground forces and their interaction with other services in combined arms warfare.”

FM 100-2-1

FM 100-2-1: The Soviet Army: Operations and Tactics (Jul ‘84)

FM 100-2-2: The Soviet Army: Specialized Warfare and Rear Area Support (Jul ‘84)

FM 100-2-3: The Soviet Army: Troops, Organization, and Equipment (Jul ‘91)

Announcing the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming

We are very pleased to announce that several of the world’s major professional (war)gaming organizations have come together to endorse the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in serious gaming.


We believe that promoting diversity and inclusion is the right thing to do. 

Diversity and inclusion are more than just words for us. They are the hard-and-fast principles guiding how we will build our teams, cultivate leaders, and create a community that supports everyone in it. No one should ever feel excluded or less welcome because of gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, or background. Experience and social science have shown that diversity can generate better results, in analysis, insight, and professional decision-making.

As professional gamers we are committed to the Derby House Principles:

1)   Promoting inclusion and diversity in professional wargaming, through the standards we set, the opportunities we offer, and access to activities we organise.

2)   Making clear our opposition to sexism, racism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination across the board, as well as in wargaming.

3)   Encouraging a greater role and higher profile for colleagues from underrepresented groups in our professional activities.

4)   Seeking out and listening to the concerns and suggestions of our colleagues as to how our commitment to diversity and inclusion could be enhanced.

5)   Demonstrating our commitment to diversity and inclusion through ongoing assessment of progress made and discussion of future steps.  


Connections North (Canada)

Connections UK

Connections (US)

Serious Games Network—France

*Derby House in Liverpool was the location of Western Approaches Tactical Unit during WWII. 

WATU conducted some of the most consequential wargaming in the history of armed conflict. It was staffed by women from all walks of life, and men considered unfit for duty at sea through illness and injury. Between them was the breadth of tactical, technical, social and cultural knowledge necessary to train naval officers from every Allied nation.

This initiative has been underway since February, when Connections North hosted a panel on diversity and inclusion at its annual conference in Montréal. Thereafter, confronted with examples of misogyny and racism directed at wargaming professionals on social media, a working group was established in mid-May consisting of Kiera Bentley (Connections UK), Rex Brynen (PAXsims/Connections North/McGill University), Sally Davis (PAXsims/Dstl), Tom Mouat (PAXsims/Connections UK/Defence Academy of the UK), Briana Proceviat (PAXsims/Canadian Joint Warfare Centre) and Yuna Wong (RAND) to develop a common vision and language.

These efforts were given new urgency by the killing of George Floyd on May 25 and the subsequent protests in the United States and around the world calling for an end to systemic racial and other discrimination.

We are currently working with the cosponsors and other groups to address these issues in conferences, workshops, and other activities. At PAXsims, you can complete our survey on diversity in wargaming or read some of the various articles we have published on diversity, inclusion, and representation. We also strongly recommend Becca Wasser’s September 2019 piece on women and wargaming in the New York Times Magazine, as well as reading up on the history of the Western Approaches Tactical Unit at Derby House.

We also look to widen the conversation and broaden the coalition for change. If your organization would like to endorse the Derby House Principles, email us to let us know. While we are not accepting individual endorsements, we would encourage readers to promote the statement and the values it represent. If you have ideas, we want to hear them!

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