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Daily Archives: 13/09/2021

Unethical Professional Wargaming final report

Click on the Image for the Report

The US Command and General Staff College, with support from the CGSC Foundation, hosted the Connections US 2021 Wargaming Conference and chose the Conference theme “Ethics and Wargaming”. An international team of 30 wargaming experts started work on October 2020 on the thought experiment “how to use unethical practices to make your wargame say what you want it to say”, where by “unethical practice” we mean any practice motivated by a desire to influence the sponsor to make a decision in the best interest of the unethical practitioner instead of the best interest of national security. We know intellectual dishonesty occurs in science and among senior civilian and military leaders. It is irresponsible to assume it does not exist within professional wargaming (or indeed any process that manages any inquiry activity).

This thought experiment is useful in three ways for:

  • discovering wargame design principles and malfeasance that wargame designers, practitioners, sponsors, players and other stakeholders might miss if one focused on best practices of well-designed games by well-intentioned competent experts.
  • inoculating wargaming against deliberate and inadvertent manipulation of wargame design by senior stakeholders
  • protecting ourselves from self-deception by our own inadvertent malign practice.

Core Conclusion: Most professional wargames are vulnerable to unethical practice due to the
presence of the three established criteria for intellectual fraud. The lack of familiarity by
senior officers or civilian executives with the unethical practices described in this report
means we cannot say that most DoD wargames are free of unethical practices.

What is to be Done? By examining the interactions between the wargame stakeholders in the
external environment, the outer game and the inner game, along with the the three criteria
for the presence of intellectual fraud, and taking culture into account, we can increase the
value and ethical probity of wargaming and ensure the decisions that the wargames are
designed to influence are in the best interest of national security. Details are in the final report.

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