Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Getting War (Gaming) Back into the War College

By Christopher Hossfeld and Ken Gilliam September 11, 2020

Photo Description: A resident seminar in the AY20 Class at the U.S. Army War College works its way through a round of Joint Overmatch: Euro-Atlantic applying lessons learned throughout the year.
Photo Credit: Ken Gilliam

Today at the US Army War College’s War Room blog:

Thinking is a critical part of warfighting, especially in the planning and execution of globally integrated campaigns. Don’t believe us, the Chairman of the Joint Chief’s of Staff says so. So how does a professional military education institution go about developing creative and critical thinking skills in military leaders? Well one tool in the kit is wargaming. Specially designed wargames that allow students to take academic content and apply it in a low risk, competitive environment are a proven and effective tool to accomplish this. WAR ROOM welcomes Chris Hossfeld and Ken Gilliam to examine how the U.S. Army War College incorporates the Joint Overmatch: Euro-Atlantic wargame into its core curriculum.

MORS Certificate in Cyber Wargaming 21 – 25 September

This course will examine the challenges of gaming cyber through a combination of lectures and practical exercises. Lectures will focus on games and game design, along with the application of game design to cyber issues. Practical exercises will give students the chance to experience different types of cyber gaming, with the expectation that students will research, design, and present their own cyber game as part of the course.

Successful students will learn how game design can be used to address challenges of cyber operations and policy and they will build an understanding of how to represent cyber capabilities in games, as well as build games directly addressing cyber operations.  The goal is for students to become aware of the gaming tools available for cyber, and to begin to associate specific game techniques with various cyber gaming requirements.

Mr. Ed McGrady
Mr. Paul Vebber

For more information and to Register go to

Unethical Wargaming Working Group

The US Command and General Staff College is hosting the Connections US 2021 Wargaming Conference. They have set the Theme for the conference as “Ethics and Wargaming”.

I invite you to join the “Unethical Wargaming” Working Group of the Connections US Wargaming Conference 2021.

The focus of this Connections US Working Group is the thought experiment that examines

“how to use unethical practices to make your wargame say what you want it to say.”

By deliberately assuming malign intent, we identify and avoid additional unethical practices to those that might be identified assuming benign intent.

If you decide to join you may participate in at least four ways

  • Write a paper for inclusion in the final report. Your paper can be on any topic you choose so long as it fits within the above focus.
  • Comment and discuss other members’ papers and respond to comments on your own (if you write one).
  • Engage in online discussions on any topic that surface within the focus area of the group.
  • Lurk and learn, and contribute when you feel comfortable doing so.

The Group will collaborate on-line starting in October 2020. During the Conference in 2021 we will run a Workshop to obtain inputs from the broader community. After the Conference we will produce a final report and post it online for public dissemination as a resource for the community. Contributors retain intellectual property rights for their materials. For an example of the kind of report we will produce see:

If you wish to join, please email me at
and please include a link to your online bio. Thanks.

Online Game Design Classes from MORS

Military Operations Research Society Logo

MORS is offering several game design classed in September and October:

8-10 Sept:  Gaming Disease Response will be a three day class with a full day on gaming pandemics:

21-25 Sept:  The Certificate in Cyber Wargaming is a certificate class offered with Virginia Tech and covers cyber gaming at all levels:

19-23 Oct:  The Certificate in Wargaming focuses on game design and building wargames:

Russian documents from Russo-Japanese war sought

Does anyone have access (or a reference librarian who does) to the following? I have tried our own reference librarian but to no avail so widening the call:

  1. “сборник тактических указаний данных начальниками в войну 1904-05 гг.”  собрано по генералъ квартирмейстера при главнокомандующем. Ст. Петерсбург, 1906
    Or in English:
    “A collection of tactical instructions given by the commanders in the war of 1904-05” collected by the quartermaster general under the commander-in-chief. St. Petersburg, 1906
  2. сборник систематических сообщении по истории Русской-Японской войны. 2 Tom.  Вильнюс, 1908.
    Or, in English:
    “A collection of systematic reports on the history of the Russian-Japanese War.” 2nd Vol. Vilnius, 1908

Many thanks.

USAWC War Room: What Strategic Decisions on the Horizon for the Department of Defense can best be Shaped through Wargaming?

This is the second in the series of short articles on wargaming presented by the US Army War College web journal War Room. The prompt this time is “What Strategic Decisions in the Horizon for the Department of Defense can best be Shaped through Wargaming?”. Six scholars and practitioners offer a response:

  • Sebastian Bae (RAND)
  • Ellie Bartels (RAND)
  • Stephen Downes-Martin (US Naval War College & PAXsims)
  • Jim Lacey (Marine Corps University)
  • Krisjand Rothweiler (US Forces Korea)
  • Natalia Wojtowicz (Hague University

Please add any thoughts of your own in the comments section here on PAXsims or over in the War Room.

Japanese to English Translators wanted for Russo Japanese War Documents

In 1907 the Japanese Military translated into Japanese a number of captured Russian Staff Documents dealing with the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War. The belief is that parts of these documents deal with Russian wargaming pre-, during-, and lessons learned post-, the war.

I’m looking for interested volunteers to translate one or more 20 page blocks of text — or as many pages as they can tolerate.

This is asking a lot, I know, but hopefully the result will be interesting to the wargaming community.

Simulation and Wargaming Study Group of SISO endorses the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion

Recently, the S&W Study Group voted overwhelmingly to affirm their support for, and adherence to the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in wargaming.

The Simulation and Wargaming Study Group of SISO (Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization) is an open study group, looking at a variety of different research areas related to wargaming.  We are an international organization, open to members of academia, government, industry, and other individuals interested in the art and science of wargaming, and how to make it better.  Those interested in participating can write to Charles Turnitsa ( to find out more about regular meetings, and how to get involved.

Current art and science of wargaming as it is practiced – Survey

The Simulation and Wargaming Study Group of SISO (Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization) has initiated a survey to find out more about the current art and science of wargaming as it is practiced.  They are investigating a broad look into wargaming, across many institutions (military, academia, industry, government, etc.) to find out what current practices are – especially in the areas of where and when it makes sense to introduce digital tools, computer simulators, visualization techniques, and other technology methods. Results will be publicly available, and will be the focus of a future SISO report.

Here is the link for the survey.  You will be asked for your email address, but it will not be used for anything other than to distribute results of the survey.

German Wargaming

The history of German Wargaming in the 20th Century is one of how an armed force can systematically develop successful military concepts, provide training and practice operations despite debilitating resource constraints (as dictated by the Treaty of Versailles). The best article on this history is by Milan Vego, “German War Gaming“, Naval War College Review, Autumn 2012, Vol. 65, No. 4.

In that article Professor Vego references “War Gaming”, by General der Infanterie a.D. Rudolf M. Hofmann (and colleagues), 1952 (document P-094) writing for the US Army Foreign Military Studies Branch as prisoners of war. The link here is to a cleaned up OCR’d fully text-searchable version of the original poor photocopy. Hard page breaks ensure the page numbers correspond to the original, so references to page numbers made in other documents remain accurate.

The most recent wargaming handbook from Germany, specifically the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College is their 2004 “Wargaming – A Guide to Preparation and Execution“. If anyone knows of a more recent one please let us know using the Comments section, thanks.

Whence the Threat to Peace

During the 1980s the Pentagon issued a series of unclassified annual booklets titled Soviet Military Power” (the current post cold war version is “Russia Military Power”).

In retaliation the Soviet Defense Ministry issued “Whence the Threat to Peace” about US and NATO military build ups and which answered the question implied by its title with “the USA“.

Since I can’t find a copy of “Whence the Threat to Peace” online, I thought I’d scan my hard copy of the 1987 version and make available to any cold war wargamers who might be interested.

Cold War Soviet Military Planning Factors and Nomograms for Gaming

Anyone interested in wargaming the Cold War from a Soviet perspective or has a general interest in how the Soviets planned and the evolution of Russian military thought, might want to take a look at their planning factors and norms described in Chapter 5 of the Voroshilov Staff Academy Handbook of Lectures.

For logistics enthusiasts the Sustainability of the Soviet Army in Battle was produced by UK’s Soviet Studies Research Centre, a single source of how the Soviets planned sustainment. It took me a while to find and process , but this is a clean complete PDF that is text-searchable. Warning, it’s 734 pages and 27Mb (smallest I could compress it).

Note these resources do not necessarily describe how planning should have been done, they describe how the Soviets taught planning and might have fought.

Bending Lines: maps and data from distortion to deception

Since (most? all?) games use maps of some sort, geographic or topological, I thought this on-line exhibition at the Boston Public Library by the Leventhal Map & Education Center into how maps can be used to distort interpretation, sometimes nefariously (my main interest), would be of interest to the community. The wargame map and other visualizations of the game are another method for manipulating the players without appearing to do so.

Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center

“Because they seem to show the world how it “really is,” maps produce a powerful sense of trust and belief. But maps and data visualizations can never communicate a truth without any perspective at all. They are social objects whose meaning and power are produced by written and symbolic language and whose authority is determined by the institutions and contexts in which they circulate.”

“Some of the maps in this exhibition are deliberately nefarious, created by people or institutions who are trying to mislead or persuade. But for many of the others, the relationship between map and truth is more ambiguous. Some maps dim a certain type of truth in order to let another type of interpretation shine through, while others classify and categorize the world in ways that should raise our skepticism.”

Leventhal Map & Education Center

Military Exercise Guidebook

Looking for information about “Military Exercise Guidebook”, an unclassified Chinese military document translated in 2003 by “The Language Doctors, Inc” about Chinese military wargaming and exercises. Anyone have a copy (paper or electronic) or know who has a copy? Thanks.

Request for Information about Chinese Wargaming

Looking for information about wargaming and staff exercises carried out by the Chinese Military (or other branches of the Chinese Government). I am not interested in field exercises, I am specifically using Peter Perla’s definition of wargames:

“a warfare model or simulation that does not involve the operations of actual forces”

Peter Perla, The Art of Wargaming

Looking for bibliographies and references to academic papers on the subject, Chinese military manuals, books or other papers (with translation if possible!), both past and present.

Please post any references or suggestions in the comments to this request, thanks.

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