The latest issue of the Journal of Advanced Military Studies 12, 2 (Fall 2021), published by Marine Corps University Press, is devoted to “wargaming and the military.“
Given the rate of change taking place within the Corps and the local activity driving university innovation, the editors felt the need to contribute to the debate with a full issue of the Journal of Advanced Military Studies (JAMS) that focuses on wargaming and the future of the Marine Corps and the U.S. military. The authors of the articles that follow approached the conversation from a broad scholarly spectrum that offers historical and forward-thinking perspectives.
The first article by Dr. Charles Esdaile, “ ‘Napoleon at Waterloo’: The Events of 18 June 1815 Analyzed via Historical Simulation,” offers a historical perspective on the importance of wargaming and professional military education (PME). His article examines how products of the game industry can be used to assess battles and draw out wider lessons relating to the conduct of war or to show how historical board games are not just recreational artifacts but also a tool with which to more fully explore, analyze, and understand campaign design and battle execution.
Sebastian J. Bae and Major Ian T. Brown then provide a transition into a more modern conversation by offering a brief history of educational wargaming specific to the U.S. Marine Corps. The article reviews and assesses the history of educational wargaming from its tentative engagement before World War I through today. It will also offer recommendations on how the Corps can institutionalize the use of educational wargaming as a tool for honing Marines’ minds against thinking human adversaries. Our next two articles continue this discussion of wargaming and PME. Colonel Eric M. Walters considers the challenges and solutions presented by wargaming and helps orient those unfamiliar with wargaming and advises on proven best practices in using them when teaching military judgment in decision making. Lieutant Colonel P. C. Combe II shifts then into the design and implementation of wargaming for the purpose of teaching or evaluating the extent to which students have learned and can apply material as a means of professional development.
Kate Kuehn further highlights the importance of evaluating the use of wargaming with her article, “Assessment Strategies for Educational Wargames.” Kuehn maintains that by examining the perspectives and practices of experi- enced faculty within wargaming, she can then identify strategies that can serve as useful teaching tools for other faculty as well as contribute to broader theory about designing assessment in such spaces. Colonel Brian W. Cole’s article on the wargame Hedgemony focuses on using wargames to then evaluate the learning objectives within senior Joint PME. His article examines how the Marine Corps War College’s experience with Hedgemony offers active learning for its students while emphasizing resource management and evaluates how well the game met the educational objectives set forth by the Joint Chiefs of Staff for senior-level PME.
The final two articles in this issue of JAMS close the loop on the PME continuum by focusing on how wargaming complements military decision making and the future development of wargaming focused on the future of warfare. Colonel Walters’s article “Developing Self-Confidence in Military Decision Making” highlights how extensive practice through wargaming grows self-confidence in both the individual Marine and in the unit engaged in it. Stephen M. Gordon, Colonel Walt Yates, and Andrew Gordon close out the journal articles by exploring the benefits and challenges of applying successful storytelling techniques to designing wargame narratives that balance creative ambitions with achievable time lines. In the authors’ minds, wargames that incorporate such techniques will generate new trends and better inform future conflict planning.