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Daily Archives: 24/06/2021

Hanley: A critique of strategic operational gaming

PAXsims is pleased to share John Hanley’s 1991 PhD thesis, On Wargaming: A Critique of Strategic Operational Gaming (Yale University, 1991).

This paper is a critique of strategic operational gaming. Operational gaming refers to the use of gaming to explore plans and investigate courses of action. Strategic refers to the subject explored. Therefore, this inquiry deals with two topics. One is the limits and validity of knowledge derived from operational gaming. The other is the use of free­ form gaming involving humans in formulating national security strategy.

This work consists of five parts in ten chapters. Part one addresses free-form gaming. Rather than accepting the notion that gaming contributes to better decisions, it addresses the alternatives to gaming and the issue: Why Game? This chapter uses a taxonomy of indeterminacy to suggest classes of problems most amenable to gaming. Part two suggests why we should employ operational gaming seriously as a technique in the formulation and implementation of national security strategy. It addresses the evolving nature of national security strategy, the history of gaming, and the influence of gaming on policy and strategy. Part three explicitly lays out the elements and structure of operational gaming. Part four critiques two current efforts employing operational gaming techniques to assist in national security policy analysis and strategy formulation. Similar concerns over defects in strategic analysis at the end of the 1970s led to the Global War Games at the Naval War College and the RAND Strategy Assessment System. The Global games employ free-form gaming whereas RAND has developed a computer-based system. Finally, part five addresses future directions in the use of operational gaming for policy analysis and strategy formulation. It suggests steps needed to institute a discipline of gaming and suggests areas of research.

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