Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

NATO WIN22 report

As I write this, I’m sitting the the departures lounge at CDG, having just attended a very successful two day NATO wargaming conference at the Cercle national des armées in Paris.

Wargaming Initiative for NATO 2022 (WIN 22) – intends to bring together defense leadership and warfighters from all NATO Nations to experience wargames at the tactical, operational and strategic levels. The goal is to foster a robust shared culture on wargaming and to improve and develop a capability of wargame design for NATO. 

Based on a French and Italian initiative, this event is organized by NATO Allied Command Transformation and hosted by the French Joint Staff. 

In addition to the French hosts and Italian partners, the event was supported by NATO ACT, the NATO Innovation Hub, the Serious Games Network – France, Fight Club, and others.

Unlike most of the Connections wargaming conferences, here there was less focus on methodological panels and workshops, and more on demonstration wargames—as befits a conference intended to popularize the approach. Indeed, I spend most of my time running two games of AFTERSHOCK: A Humanitarian Crisis Game, and one of We Are Coming, Nineveh! (which will very soon be available for order), and missed several of the presentations. Still, I was able to take part in a panel on “pitfalls and limitations” (in which Ed McGrady and Sebastien de Peyret in particular made some excellent points), and listen to a terrific presentation by David Banks (KCL) on wargaming in academia.

By my rough estimate, of the approximately 100 attendees, two thirds or so were French and Italian officers or officials, with everyone else making up the remaining third. This was a very different mix than Connections US and UK conferences, and frankly it was very useful to move outside the Anglo-American core of professional NATO wargaming to engage with other medium-sized NATO members. Like Canada, these are countries that do not have the deep wargaming resources that the US in particular enjoys, and I think there is a great deal we can learn from each other. There was ample opportunity for networking—although this might have been even easier had the attendees been issued name tags.

During my own presentation I made the point that NATO wargaming initiatives will need to pay greater attention to diversity and inclusion issues as they move forward, both to expand the human resources available and to enhance analytical quality by bringing varied perspectives to the wargaming table. I also noted the challenges of political sensitivities involved in wargaming many key strategic issues facing the alliance. Finally, I stressed the importance of both institutionalizing wargaming but also fostering the informal and professional networks that are so essential for inspiration, professional development, and agile response.

As I understand it, the current ambition is that a future “WIN23” meeting will be convened in Rome, to further strengthen the initiative. PAXsims will provide an update when we have more information.

4 responses to “NATO WIN22 report

  1. Rex Brynen 24/10/2022 at 9:09 pm

    @Jay It wasn’t mentioned to my knowledge, but I was running games for 75% of the conference.

  2. Jay Roland 21/10/2022 at 3:59 pm

    Excellent summary Rex. Given the extent that the Joint Theater Level Simulation – Global Operations (JTLS-GO) is being used by several NATO organizations for training and analysis was it or its capabilities surface during your meetings?

  3. Rex Brynen 20/10/2022 at 3:11 pm

    Predominately English.

  4. Terry Martin 20/10/2022 at 4:20 am

    as a matter of interest Rex what was the prime language of the conference?

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