PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Gender and overconfidence in wargames

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This isn’t a new piece of research, but I just came across it and thought it might be of interest to PAXsims readers: a 2006 article by Dominic Johnson et al on “Overconfidence in Wargames: Experimental Evidence on Expectations, Aggression, Gender and Testosterone,” in Proceedings. Biological sciences  273, 1600 (2006).

Overconfidence has long been noted by historians and political scientists as a major cause of war. However, the origins of such overconfidence, and sources of variation, remain poorly understood. Mounting empirical studies now show that mentally healthy people tend to exhibit psychological biases that encourage optimism, collectively known as ‘positive illusions’. Positive illusions are thought to have been adaptive in our evolutionary past because they served to cope with adversity, harden resolve, or bluff opponents. Today, however, positive illusions may contribute to costly conflicts and wars. Testosterone has been proposed as a proximate mediator of positive illusions, given its role in promoting dominance and challenge behaviour, particularly in men. To date, no studies have attempted to link overconfidence, decisions about war, gender, and testosterone. Here we report that, in experimental wargames: (i) people are overconfident about their expectations of success; (ii) those who are more overconfident are more likely to attack; (iii) overconfidence and attacks are more pronounced among males than females; and (iv) testosterone is related to expectations of success, but not within gender, so its influence on overconfidence cannot be distinguished from any other gender specific factor. Overall, these results constitute the first empirical support of recent theoretical work linking overconfidence and war.

The full article (at the link above) also includes this experimental finding too:

Finally, in probing the characteristics of individuals that were prone to overconfidence and launching wars, we found that levels of narcissism (as measured by the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, Raskin & Terry 1988) were significantly related to pre-game self-rankings. Males (but not females) with high narcissistic qualities tended to expect to do better (all data, Spearman’s ρ=−0.21, N=185, p=0.005; males only, ρ=−0.25, N=106, p=0.012; females only, ρ=−0.20, N=79, p=0.074). Moreover, those males (and again not females) who launched unprovoked attacks on their opponents had significantly higher narcissism scores than those who did not (Mann–Whitney U-test: all data, Z=2.23, N=46,137, p=0.025; males, Z=2.09, N=33,72, p=0.037; females, Z=0.92, N=13,65, p=0.36; see figure 3).

In short, “narcissism scores predicted both overconfidence and unprovoked attacks among males”—but not females.


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Connections NL 2019 AAR

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The most recent Connections Netherlands wargaming conference was held on 28 October, with some fifty or so participants. You’ll find a report on the conference here.


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Room to game (or, the Battle of Winterfell explained)

 

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Course of action wargaming for the Battle of Winterfell. Might the room be responsible for the defenders’ military missteps?

 

The Battle of Winterfell was the final battle of the Great War against the Night King and Army of the Dead. While ultimately successful, the human defenders adopted a notoriously weak defensive strategy, involving poorly-defended ditches, misplaced archers and artillery, and a suicidal frontal cavalry charge.

Scholars and historians have suggested that weak scriptwriting was responsible for this. However, recent scientific research suggests that the real culprit might be the room selected for pre-battle course of action wargaming.

Everyone who has ever conducted a serious game knows that the room matters. How early can you get access? Are the tables big enough? Can they be moved (and are they all the same height)? Will the audiovisual and IT systems work on the day—and what’s your fallback if they don’t? Are there breakout/team/control rooms nearby? If so, will their location enhance gameplay (by fostering the rights sorts of interaction and immersion), or undermine it? Where will coffee and lunch be served?

There is also, however, considerable evidence that room quality affects player performance in more fundamental ways. A recent study by M. Nakamura in Simulation & Gaming found that the size and layout of the room had significant effects on how players assessed the gaming experience in their debriefings:

Results from the current study demonstrate that the difference in room condition was influential. In HACONORI, participants felt more satisfaction in the small room than in the large room, while in BLOCK WORK, participants felt less usefulness in the small room than in the large room, but only when asked about the degree of usefulness before being asked about their degree of satisfaction. The effect of room condition seems to trend in the opposite direction in the two gaming sessions. This difference is because the amount of space has a different meaning in HACONORI and BLOCK WORK; for example, in HACONORI, group members can successfully work together by providing quick and responsive communication with each other. The small room must have encouraged such speedy communication. Conversely, in BLOCK WORK, participants can successfully work when they have more personal space since the task is more individualized; however, this may be affected by the order of questions. When participants were asked about the degree of usefulness after being asked about their degree of satisfaction, their attitude tone was fixed and the degree of usefulness was not affected by room condition. When asked about the degree of usefulness before being asked about their degree of satisfaction, they recognized the usefulness of the BLOCK WORK session in the large room more than in the small room.

We should take into consideration the movability of the desks as an essential factor in improving room function as this must have affected the results. In HACONORI, participants felt more satisfaction in the small room than in the large room. This is because the movability of the desks was high in the small room but low in the large room. In other words, the small room functioned well because of the movable desks.

Both studies reflect the powerful effect of room condition, which depends on the game attributes. They also demonstrate that the effect of the debriefing form is not as powerful as the effect of room condition, although as noted above, it is advisable to consider the order of the questions.

Perhaps even more striking are the results of a 2016 study by Joseph Allen et al in Environmental Health Perspectives on the impact of room ventilation on cognitive performance. They established three experimental room conditions (“Conventional,” “Green,” and “Green +”) with varying concentrations of volatile organic compounds and C02. The study found that “cognitive scores were 61% higher on the Green building day [and 101% higher on the two Green+ building days than on the Conventional building day].”

In other studies, lighting has also been shown to affect recall, problem solving, and other cognitive tasks (with some gender variation too). Room temperature has demonstrable effects on productivity, with 21-22C the ideal temperature—although this likely also varies with age, gender, and other factors.

Taken together, the existing research on environmental conditions suggests that wargame participants in an appropriately lit, well-ventilated room will perform complex cognitive tasks roughly three times “better” than those in one that is too hot or cold, poorly lit, and poorly ventilated. I suspect that even my PAXsims colleague Stephen Downes-Martin—who could quite rightly quibble quibble how I’ve rather breezily aggregated different measures of task performance here—would agree that the room matters a lot.

Back to Winterfell. Course of action wargaming of the battle took in a cold and dimly-lit chamber of the castle (above). The tallow candles and open braziers used to illuminate the space undoubtedly produced high levels of CO, CO2, and particulate pollution of various toxic sorts. Moreover, few of the participants had bathed in weeks.

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Was it the dragon or the room? Use of a well-ventilated war room (with natural lighting and healthy sea air) may have been an important factor in planning the very successful Battle of the Goldroad.

 

By contrast, planning for the very successful Battle of the Goldroad took place in the war room at Dragonstone. Unlike the dark and frozen chamber used at Winterfell, the room here is extremely well ventilated, has natural lighting, and is situated in a much more amenable climate. While many commentators suggest that the deployment of a giant fire-breathing dragon was key to the success of Daenerys Targaryen’s forces, we clearly cannot ignore the contribution made by an appropriate wargaming space during the critical planning phase.


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McGrady: Getting the story right about wargaming

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At War on the Rocks today, Ed McGrady notes the recent debates about analytical wargaming within the US defence community, and has some thoughts to offer:

There is a debate about wargaming in the Pentagon and it has spilled out into the virtual pages of War on the Rocks. Some say wargaming is broken. Others believe the cycle of research will solve our problems. There is a deeper problem at the root of all of this: There is a widespread misunderstanding of what wargaming is and a reluctance to accept both the power and limitations of wargames.

What we are seeing in the debate about wargaming looks a lot like what wargaming is best at: telling stories. But we have told ourselves several different stories at the same time, and none of these stories really agree with reality….

But failure to understand wargaming — what it is and what it is not — risks screwing up the one tool that enables defense professionals to break out of the stories we have locked ourselves into.

He goes on to question the notion that wargames are analysis:

Wargames do not do this through analysis. Indeed, wargaming is not analysis. “Analytical wargaming” jams the two terms together in a vague way that can mean anything, and often does. To be sure, good wargaming requires analysis: To design a game, one has to understand how things work. But the most important analysis one does for a wargame is about the people and organizations involved, not the systems. For example, defense analysts often find themselves grappling with future force projections and procurement. But the one organization that matters most for future force structure is not included in the assessments: Congress. Wargames can help senior leaders consider things like Congress whereas standard models and analyses cannot.

Wargames can also be the subject of analysis, but tread carefully: Wargames are not experiments unless they have been specifically, and painstakingly, designed as such. They are events: unrepeatable, chaotic, vague, and messy events. Collecting data from them is difficult — they produce “dirty” data, you often miss the best parts, and they cannot be repeated. But if you think that means you can’t learn anything from them, you might as well stop trying to understand real-world conflicts, because everything I have written about wargames in this paragraph is also true for wars.

So, you can analyze wargames, just not the same way you would analyze a set of data from a radar system or a series of ship trials. But in your analysis you have to focus on what wargames can actually tell you, and avoid making conclusions about what they can’t.

He goes on to suggest what we need to do:

First, we need to get our story straight and get it out there. Wargames are the front-end, door-kicking tool of new ideas, dangers, and concepts. In particular, they help you understand how you will get stuff done in the messy, human organizations that we all work in. They are really good at that. We also need to make sure that people understand what wargames are not good at: detailed, technical, complicated analysis that needs to be done to optimize particular aspects of ideas or concepts. They can tell you that the enemy may target your logistics, but they won’t tell you exactly how many short tons you need to offload per day at the port.

Second, we need to push back against the opportunists and charlatans who are colonizing gaming. While these people always show up when areas get hot, they are particularly dangerous in wargaming. Wargames not only provide new ideas and concepts, but also influence the future decision-makers that play in them. About the best we can do is call out bad games when we see them and, as part of our getting the word out about gaming, describe what games to discount when you hear about a bad game.

We can start by saying meetings are not games and speculation is not play.

Third, we need to make sure decision-makers understand that a good game is only the beginning of the journey, not the end. Much more work needs to be done after the game to figure out, through analysis, whether all those fancy concepts and ideas will work. And if we think they just might work, then we need to burn jet fuel and soldier-hours in instrumented and observed exercises to figure out if our forces and equipment can actually execute them. For future systems where we can’t do exercises, this means bringing the actual engineers into the operational picture. One of the best ways to bring the systems developers into the picture is through games.

You can read the full piece here.


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The Future of Wargaming working group report

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PAXsims is pleased to provide more of the impressive work done at the Connections 2019 (US) professional wargaming conference. Many thanks to Ed McGrady for passing this on for wider distribution.

Also, if you haven’t yet, please take a minute to complete our PAXsims reader survey.


At Connections 2019 we held a working group (WG2) to explore the future of wargaming.  We approached the problem several different ways.  First, several members of the working group contributed fictional stories describing what gaming might look like in the future.  Second, we had baselining briefs on future technologies, including virtual and alternate reality technologies and artificial intelligence.  Finally, we did a scenario planning exercise with the working group attendees at the conference.  This process resulted in a wide-range of different ways to think about, and predict, the future of gaming.

The working group was co-chaired by Mike Ottenberg and Ed McGrady, with stories contributed by Sebastian J. Bae, Michael Bond, Col. Matt Caffrey (Ret.), Dr. Stephen Downes-Martin, Dr. ED McGrady, and Dr. Jeremy Sepinsky.

Basic Law: a Hong Kong protests matrix game

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From the ever-prolific and always-mysterious Tim Price comes yet another matrix game, this time exploring the current civil protests in Hong King: Basic Law. The game allows for 6 players: the Hong Kong Government, Pro-Democracy Protestors, China, the USA, the UK, and Taiwan. Included is a brief background, briefing materials, basic matrix game rules, a series of maps, and counters. You will find it all here.

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Interested in designing your own matrix games? Check out the Matrix Game Construction Kit (MaGCK).


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Wargaming the Far Future working group report

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PAXsims is pleased to present the report of the “Wargaming the Far Future” working group, ably assembled by Stephen Downes-Martin. This 276 page (!) document contains the papers written by the working group, their discussions while they wrote and refined those papers from November 2018 to June 2019, and the discussions at the workshop held during the Connections US Wargaming Conference in August 2019.

Our most potent power projection and warfighting capabilities, developed in response to current and near future threats, are technologically advanced, hugely expensive, and have half- century service lives. The first of these characteristics gives us a temporary and possibly short lived warfighting edge. The second grants our political leaders short lived economic and political advantages. The last characteristic locks us into high expenses in maintenance and upgrades for many years in order to justify the initial sunk costs as though they were investments. This combination forces us onto a high-inertia security trajectory that is transparent to our more agile adversaries, providing them with credible information about that trajectory while giving them time to adapt with cheaper counter forces, technologies and strategies.

We must therefore wargame out to service life, the “far future”, to ensure our current and future weapons systems and concepts of operations are well designed for both the near term and the far future. However a 50 year forecasting horizon is beyond the credibility limit for wargaming. The Working Group and the Workshop explored and documented ways that wargaming can deal with this horizon.

Papers and comments are contributed by Stephen Aguilar-Milan, Sebastian J. Bae, Deon Canyon and Jonathan Cham, Thomas Choinski, John Hanley, William Lademan, Graham Longley-Brown and Jeremy Smith, Brian McCue, Ed McGrady, Robert Mosher, Kristan Wheaton, and of course, Stephen himself.


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RAND: Nuclear weapons and deterring Russian threats to the Baltics

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Last month RAND released a report examining—in part, through wargaming—whether nonstrategic nuclear weapons use might deter a Russian attack against Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The study, Exploring the Role Nuclear Weapons Could Play in Deterring Russian Threats to the Baltic Stateswas prepared by Paul Davis, J. Michael Gilmore, David Frelinger, Edward Geist, Christopher Gilmore, Jenny Oberholtzer, and Danielle Tarraf.

Despite its global advantages, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s current deterrent posture in the Baltic states is militarily weak and generally questionable. A Russian invasion there would almost surely capture some or all of those states’ capital cities within a few days, presenting NATO with a fait accompli. The United States is currently considering tailored deterrence strategies, including options to use nuclear weapons to deter Russian aggression in the Baltic states. This report examines what role nonstrategic nuclear weapons could play in deterring such an invasion. As part of that analysis, the authors review relevant deterrence theory and current NATO and Russian nuclear and conventional force postures in Europe. They draw on wargame exercises and qualitative modeling to characterize the potential outcomes if NATO, Russia, or both employ nonstrategic nuclear weapons during a war in the Baltic states. The authors then discuss implications for using such weapons to deter a Russian invasion. The insights derived from the research highlight the reality that, even if NATO makes significant efforts to modernize its nonstrategic nuclear weapons, it would have much stronger military incentives to end a future war than Russia would. That is, Russia would still enjoy escalation dominance.

Readers might also want to review the 2016 report by David A. Shlapak and Michael Johnson on Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank.


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KWN: Building the future of wargaming

The Wargaming Network at King’s College London has a series of events planned for November. Details below.

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Defense One Radio on wargames

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Defence One Radio has put together a very good 49 minute podcast on contemporary defence wargaming.

This episode we’ll learn why the Pentagon and the U.S. defense establishment are increasingly turning to wargames and simulations; what famous games of the past got right, and wrong; and why we still need experts who strategize almost exclusively in the analog world of plastic chips and toy soldiers and hexagon maps.

Guests include Becca Wasser, Stacie Pettyjohn, Ellie Bartels, Christopher Rice and Mark Herman.

You’ll find it here.


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Little Wars TV: Ideas to welcome more women to Wargaming

Little Wars TV has released their second video on woman and wargaming, this time focussing on bringing more women into the hobby.  In it, wargamers Amanda Voce, Veronica, and Becky Ensteness offer a number of ideas.

Among the issues they note: the uncomfortable  “boys’ club” atmosphere of some gaming spaces, the importance of calling out sexist behaviour, the value of mentoring and creating welcoming paths into the hobby.

If you missed the first one, you can find it here.


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Connections Oz date and location change

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Connections Oz is on the move. The date and venue for their 2019 conference has been changed  to 9-11 December at the Australian Defence College in Canberra.

Further details at their website.

PAXsims reader survey 2019

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A few years ago we conducted a survey of PAXsims readers to see who you are (or, rather, were). It seems about time to conduct another one, so— without further ado—here it is: the 2019 PAXsims reader survey.

 

 

Recent simulation and gaming publications, October 2019

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PAXsims is pleased to present a selection of recently-published items on simulation and serious gaming. Some of these may not address peacebuilding, conflict, or development issues at all, but have been included because of the broader perspective they offer on games-based education or analysis.

Articles may be gated/paywalled and not accessible without subscription access to the publication in which they appear.


Mislat Safar Almuqati, Nurazmallail Marni,The Role of War Game in Educating and Training the Commanders,Umran: International Journal of Islamic and Civilisational Studies (2019).

The war game is considered to be the most effective means of military training due to the fact that it simulates the reality since it provides a semi-real picture of the weapons and equipment used in the training. Consequently, it provides the trainee with the appropriate environment to freely deal with such weapons as well as military equipment which in turn help the trainee become acquainted with all aspects of use and significantly instill confidence in him when such equipment are actually needed in war.  More importantly, war game provides environment similar to what is going on in the actual battlefields allowing the commanders to exercise the training as if they were in a real war. Based on this perspective, the war game has emerged as an advanced training means which provides an analogy of the battle atmosphere to a great extent and gives commanders the opportunity to make decisions. It also helps in providing the commanders with a future view which enables them to plan their future and to deal with any challenges they might encounter.  In fact, the role of war play is not only limited to training, but also extends to the aspects of military education, preparation, and development. The notion of war game is not only a means for the commander to have knowledge about the war before it occurs so as to be able to realize whether the decisions taken are right or wrong, but also it has become an effective means on which the armies depend when they train and polish the commanders’ capabilities as well as skills. In fact, the concept of war play is not exclusive to the military field but also it is employed by all agencies and departments that require a future vision in training or planning. This paper sheds some light on the notion of war game and its role in training and educating the commanders and staff.


Elizabeth Bartels, “The Science of Wargames: A discussion of philosophies of science for research games,” paper presented at the workshop on War Gaming and Implications for International Relations Research, July 2019.

[No abstract]


Richard Frank and Jessica Genauer, “A Classroom Simulation of the Syrian Conflict,” PS: Political Science & Politics 52, 4 (October 2019).

This article describes a semester-long classroom simulation of the Syrian conflict designed for an introductory international relations (IR) course. The simulation culminates with two weeks of multi-stakeholder negotiations addressing four issues: humanitarian aid, economic sanctions, ceasefire, and political transition. Students randomly play one of 15 roles involving three actor types: states, non-state actors, and international organizations. This article outlines the costs and benefits of simulation design options toward encouraging students’ understanding of IR concepts, and it proposes a course plan for tightly integrating lectures, readings, assessment, and simulation—regardless of class size or length. We highlight this integration through a discussion of two weeks’ worth of material—domestic politics and war, and non-state actors—and the incorporation of bargaining concepts and frameworks into the two weeks of simulated multi-stakeholder negotiations.


Paul Hancock. Jonathan Saunders, Steffi Davey, Tony Day, Babak Akhgar, “ATLAS: Preparing Field Personnel for Crisis Situations,” Serious Games for Enhancing Law Enforcement Agencies (2019).

ATLAS (Advanced Training, Learning and Scenario Simulator) is a serious game that was developed in conjunction with an intergovernmental organisation to deliver bespoke training simulations in virtual reality to assist field personnel in making decisions in difficult situations during field operations. This chapter describes the concept of ATLAS and the developmental process that led to the full-fledged game.


Erin Maudlin and Jeremiah Sanders, “Using Wargames To Teach The Critical Analysis Of Historical Sources,” Critical & Creative Thinking Conference (2019). (Text not available.)

This presentation describes the use of a wargame to actively involve students in the historical method through the creation of “primary sources” they later use to write an analytical paper. This assignment has been used at different universities in history courses to great success. Professional historians must analyze a host of often conflicting sources about their subject written by biased humans. While the reading about the historical process and visiting with archivists are helpful, these are nevertheless passive forms of learning, and their lessons may not adhere. Students often continue to view primary sources as authoritative in their research, and fail to think critically about bias in archival documents. With this assignment, students actively create and participate in an historical event—the wargame—which is essentially capture the flag with water balloons. Then, students create primary sources, such as letters home, “newspaper” reports, etc., and use this “archive” to write a cogent, analytical research paper of the event itself. The wargame makes the historical process transparent for students, as they can see every step along the way of how historians practice their craft: they experience the chaotic event itself; they participate in the creation of the primary sources about the event; and they have to evaluate the often conflicting sources in order to offer their interpretation as to why one team won or lost the battle. In other words, they have to “impose order on the chaos” of evidence about their historical event.


Andrea Redhead, “Gamification and Simulation,” Serious Games for Enhancing Law Enforcement Agencies (2019).

Gamification and simulation methods are two of the most important components of serious games. In order to create an effective training tool, it is imperative to understand these methods and their relationship to each other. If designed correctly, gamification techniques can build upon simulations to provide an effective training medium, which enhances learning, engagement and motivation in users. This chapter discusses their uses, strengths and weaknesses whilst identifying how to most effectively utilise them in developing serious games.


Anastasia Roukouni, Heide Lukosch, Alexander Verbraeck, “Simulation Games to Foster Innovation: Insights from the Transport and Logistics Sector,” Neo-Simulation and Gaming Toward Active Learning (2019).

There is an indisputable gap between the conceptualization and introduction of innovation and the actual and effective implementation of innovations in the complex sociotechnical system of transport and logistics throughout Europe. With our research we investigate the role of simulation games as an instrument to understand the dynamics around innovation processes in this system, by the means of literature review and in-depth interviews with key stakeholders of selected innovation cases within the Port of Rotterdam. The aim of our study is to gather valuable insights into how simulation games can be used to handle the extremely critical issue of effectively implementing innovation in the transport and logistics sector. It is thus expected to stimulate and enhance interaction among actors on policy level, by highlighting the potential advantages of using the approach of simulation games when the implementation of innovation is in discuss.


Robert Rubel, “The Medium in the message: Weaving wargaming more tightly into the fabric of the Navy,” Naval War College Review 72, 4 (Autumn 2019).

By now, the challenge and threat of a rising and contentious China and an increasingly hostile Russia have penetrated the Navy’s corporate consciousness, and current leaders are taking steps to shift the service from a purely power- projection posture to one that focuses again on defending American command of the sea. The Navy is initiating adjustments to fleet design and architecture as well as a rebirth of fleet experimentation. While perhaps late in coming, these responses to the emergent challenges of our time are encouraging.


 

Tristan Saldanha, Quinn Vinlove, and Jens Mache, “MICE: A Holistic Scorekeeping Mechanism for Cybersecurity Wargames,” Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges 35, 1 (October 2019).

Cybersecurity wargames are some of the best tools for teaching se- curity skills to groups of students, but the computational complexity of these games has increased disproportionately with the ability to measure the progress of the game. This paper introduces “Mice”, a new way of assessing security skills such as detecting malware, network intrusion, and network defense, which will allow for complex games to be scored and tracked in a way that traditional score keeping can not. Mice are adaptable to any kind of simulation and are easy to use for students and educators, promising more effective learning from a wide range of security exercises.


Geoffrey Sloan, “The Royal Navy and organizational learning—The Western Approaches Tactical Unit and the Battle of the Atlantic,” Naval War College Review 72, 4 (Autumn 2019).

The Western Approaches Tactical Unit is a unique example of a learning organization. It was created within the bureaucratic constraints of the Admiralty yet was highly effective in changing command culture in the Royal Navy—which proved to be the deciding factor in the early days of World War II, particularly during the Battle of the Atlantic.


Martin Stytz and Sheila Banks, “Future challenges for cyber simulation,” Journal of Defense Modelling and Simulation (online first, 30 September 2019).

[No abstract]


Yusuke Toyoda, Hidehiko Kanegae, “Gaming Simulation as a Tool of Problem-Based Learning for University Disaster Education,” Neo-Simulation and Gaming Toward Active Learning (2019).

This chapter addresses the connection between gaming simulation (GS) and problem-based learning (PBL) in disaster education. First, the chapter explains their relations theoretically and describes the introduction of Evacuation Simulation Training (EST) for earthquake evacuation to university students. EST empowered both Japanese and international students to conduct research, integrate models and practice, and apply their knowledge and skills to develop viable solutions to defined problems. Finally, the chapter demonstrates the utility of GS as a tool of PBL.


Feng Zhu and Kai Chen, “Application of Simulation Technology in Military Theory Teaching,” Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, 352 (2019).

Military theory teaching often involves abstract concepts and principles that are difficult to understand, such as command structure, tactics, equipment system, etc. It’s difficult for students to quickly understand and master in the traditional classroom teaching process. Aiming at this problem, this paper studies the application of simulation technology in military theory teaching. The advantages of the application of simulation technology in military theory teaching are analyzed, and then the application of simulation technology in theory teaching such as equipment system, military command and logistics application is emphatically introduced. With the help of simulation platform, students can be brought into virtual battlefield environment, which is similar to the real situation. It is conducive to enhancing the interest of students in learning and greatly promoting the improvement of learning efficiency.

A broadside from CNA gamers: Analytical wargaming and the cycle of research

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Jon Compton’s recent piece in War on the Rocks bemoaning the state of analytical wargaming in the US defence community has already sparked a cautious and partial rejoinder from Phil Pournelle for “paint[ing] with too large a brush.” Now Peter Perla, Web Ewell, Christopher Ma, James Peachy, Jeremy Sepinsky, and Basil Tripsas—all affiliated with the CNA gaming team—weigh in on the debate in another War on the Rocks article. It’s a pretty heavy, and well-aimed, broadside.

We certainly agree about the need to integrate wargames with analyses, exercises, and assessments as part of — dare we say it? — the cycle of research. Indeed, CNA and others have striven to do exactly that — when the sponsors of our work have been open to doing so. We disagree with Compton, however, about giving the wargaming community the central role and responsibility for integrating all aspects of the cycle of research.

It is long past time for the leadership of the Department — perhaps acting through the groups Compton calls on the carpet (federally funded research and development centers, other contractors, and educational institutions) — to break apart the stovepipes of analysis, wargaming and, indeed, of “analytical wargaming” as Compton terms it. Pentagon leadership needs to focus on integrating those stovepipes into a new paradigm for providing comprehensive advice to senior leadership. These senior leaders should include not only those within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, but also those of the services, the various operational and functional commands, and the research community writ large. That senior leadership will best be served not merely by better analytical wargaming but primarily by their own broad-based commitment to integrate wargaming with analysis, exercises, experiments, and real-world assessments. It is through such integration that senior leaders — indeed, leaders at all levels — can base their crucial strategic, programmatic, operational, and tactical decisions on the most comprehensive information and insight available.

Quite rightly, they put appropriate emphasis on the sponsor to integrate all elements of research and analysis:

The organizations that make up the “wargaming community” that Compton criticizes so harshly — federally funded research and development centers, other contractors, and educational institutions — are not all in the position of being their own master distinct from the government agencies who must sponsor and fund such work. Although Compton implied that federally funded research and development centers, as well as others, should “take analytical ownership” of this process, it is important to recognize that the CAPE effort was sponsored and executed with government leadership. The Naval War College’s Halsey Alfa group has been using a similar paradigm for more than a decade.

Indeed, we use that term, paradigm, with malice aforethought. Since the McNamara era’s introduction of the concepts of systems analysis into the Pentagon’s lexicon, analysis has become a mantra of truth. Even the term Compton uses — analytical wargaming — demonstrates obeisance to the concepts of analytical rigor and objectivity based on the principles of economics and the physical sciences. For too long that paradigm has seduced both the analysis and wargaming communities within the Defense Department into judging the value of all tools, regardless of their character and use, by standards of validity and utility too narrow to encompass the full range of truth and value.

The paradigm should change.

Instead of imposing the tenets of systems analysis and operations research on wargaming, or those of wargaming on analysis, it is time for the Department — not their supporting contractors and institutions — to recognize the essential need to integrate all the intellectual tools at its disposal across all levels of decisions. And it is at the locus of those decisions that the need should be recognized and the supporting expertise tasked and funded to meet new requirements.

In short, they suggest, “It is the Department of Defense — not the federally funded research and development centers, contractors, and educational institutions — who should take the “analytical ownership” Compton calls for.”

The opinions they express, it should be noted, are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of CNA. Then again, I suspect there are more than a few in the outside-DoD/DoD contractor wargaming community who share their view.

See also comments on the CNA website by Joel Sepinsky: “Wargaming is Just One Part of the Solution.”

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