PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Category Archives: simulation and gaming news

USMC Training and Education 2030 on wargaming

The US Marine Corps’ Training and Education 2030 report is now out, and it foresees a major role for wargaming in professional military education:

EXPANDING WARGAMING

Wargaming is a proven technique to examine warfighting concepts, train and educate leaders, explore scenarios, and assess how force planning and posture choices affect campaign outcomes. Our wargaming scenarios will incorporate the full array of all-domain capabilities, ensuring our leaders can understand the meaning risks and opportunities presented. We must ensure that the outcomes of our wargames feedback into conceptdevelopment, with a focus on validation or appropriate adjustments to the concepts.

MCU and Training Command use wargaming to familiarize students with evolving Marine Corps concepts and train decision-makers in fighting a thinking enemy. The new Marine Corps Wargaming & Analysis Center, now under construction at Marine Corps Base Quantico, will substantially increase our capacity to conduct wargames and campaign analysis. The close working relationship and physical proximity of the Marine Corps WarfightingLaboratory’s (MCWL) Wargaming Division and MCU’s Krulak Center has already enabled mutually supporting and beneficial relationships that advance our force design wargaming and experimentation needs, while simultaneously enhancing the training and education of our leaders against a peer threat.

Directed Actions

28. NLT 1 July 2023, TECOM will implement a plan for wargaming at resident PME programs in order to ensure students can wargame realistic scenarios at the appropriate classification level and remain current on operational matters while assigned to formal learning courses.

You can read the full report at the link above.

MORS Wargaming Community of Practice Presentation Files

A folder of all Wargaming CoP presentations for which we have files is now available on the Georgetown University Wargaming Society website under “Wargaming Resources” at:
https://www.guwargaming.org/wargamingresources/mors-wargaming-presentations

The folder also contains an Index organized by year, with titles and authors, of ALL presentations including those for which we are missing the files. The Index has links to those files which we do have.

If you ever gave a presentation to the Wargaming CoP, please check the index, and if your presentation is missing please email it to me (stephen.downesmartin@gmail.com) and I will add it. Many thanks.

Simpson’s “Compendium of Wargaming Terms”

Bill Simpson’s “Compendium of Wargaming Terms” is now hosted on the Georgetown University Wargaming Society Webpage (thanks to Sebastian Bae and William Simpson) under “Wargaming Resources“. This is the Dec 2022 version and is the most recent one that Bill has edited. This document will be updated annually, and you can propose additions, deletions and edits using a form on the Compendium landing page.

Purpose and Description: Since there is no single agreed-upon set of wargaming terms, this compendium is an unofficial collection that attempts to gather and post as broad a collection of terms and definitions as possible. Its purpose is to inform gamers of the variety of terms and definitions in use rather than to impose a single set of rigid definitions.

This unofficial collection was originally assembled by Bill Simpson, a GS-13 Wargaming Specialist, with 22+ years of experience at Wargaming Division, Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory June 1992 to October 2015, and at the Center for Naval Analysis as a Senior Wargaming Specialist January 2017 to January 2019. He continues to work on updates along with a small group od volunteers.

The opinions contained in the Compendium are those of the compilers alone, they do not reflect official policy of any organization.

Gaming climate change

Here are two recent items on (war)gaming climate change that may be of interest.


First this:

More than 30 individuals participated in a Climate Change Wargame co-hosted by the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Arctic and Global Resilience team. The wargame, “Ho’okele Mua” or “Navigating the Future,” was designed by The Center for Naval Analyses to address various scenarios in which the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command can best prepare for strategic and operational climate change impacts in the region.

Several images from the game can be seen at DIVIDS. UPDATE: As Aaron Danis points out, there’s also a press release for the event here.


Second, there’s this recent GUWS talk by Ed McGrady:

Climate change games are often a welcome break from our natural focus on games of war and destruction. However they present significant challenges to the aspiring designer. These challenges can be divided into those of mechanics, science, and culture. But, wait, a lot of these challenges may not be what you expect! The challenge with mechanics is being able to represent in the game everything you need to represent in order to allow the players to address climate issues. It’s a lot. The challenge with science is not that you do not have it, rather its the large abundance of science you do have, your ability to distill it down into something manageable, and the need to get disparate climate change experts to agree on something. Finally, the culture of climate change advocacy, politics, and processes does have a huge impact on your ability to design the game. But not because of climate deniers, rather the culture of the climate science and response community can itself present challenges. This can even extend to your own workforce. All of these challenges can be overcome, but for those of us seeking to build simulation games, vice “toy” or “educational” games, these challenges can present a big barrier to successful climate change game design. This talk will discuss each of these issues, from the perspective of someone who has had to address them, and overcome them (sometimes surrender to them), in multiple climate simulation games. When possible I will offer solutions, at least solutions I have found useful.

Of course, the Georgetown Wargaming Society has sponsored and is sponsoring many, many wargaming talks of interest, so you should check out their website.

PAXsims 2022 in review

Best wishes for 2023, PAXsims readers! We hope your year will be filled with effective peace and conflict simulations and many serious (and not so-serious) games.

In 2022 we had some 49,904 visitors and 100,993 page views, similar to most recent years. During the lifetime of the project we are now up to a total of 569,000 visitors and 1.2 million page views.

Our visitors in 2022 came from 177 countries and territories, with the United States once again contributing the largest share.

  • United States 39.8%
  • United Kingdom 14.2%
  • Canada 8.9%
  • Australia 3.5%
  • Japan 2.7%
  • Germany 2.6%
  • France 2.5%
  • Netherlands 2.4%
  • Italy 1.6%
  • Spain 1.4%
  • China 1.4%

Other NATO countries represented 6.1% of the total, and the rest of the world 13.0%.

We had 138 posts in 2022, down a little since last year. Our post popular new posts in 2022 were:

Since PAXsims was established we have posted 2,141 items on conflict simulation and serious games. We look forward to sharing even more articles, links. and commentary in the year to come!


Want to support us in 2023? Join our Patreon.

Simulation and gaming miscellany, holiday edition

PAXsims is pleased to present some recent items on conflict simulation and serious (and not-so-serious) games that may be of interest to our readers. Steven Sowards and Aaron Danis suggested items for this latest edition. Happy holidays!

The US Naval Institute blog discusses wargaming at Marine Corps University.

Marine Corps University (MCU) has unleashed the power of cloud computing to enhance its wargaming professional development. In September, the Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Future Warfighting at MCU unveiled its Wargaming Cloud, a platform-independent tool for teaching a variety of skills and objectives.

Retired Colonel Tim Barrick is the wargaming director for MCU. (Note that the MCU wargaming program is distinct from the much larger Marine Corps Wargaming and Analysis Center, which broke ground in 2021.) Barrick says the Wargaming Cloud is primarily educational wargaming, not future force design concept testing. Educational wargaming, he says, “is about helping to create critical thinkers to hone adaptive warfighting.”

“When do you recognize your plan has to change?” says Barrick of adaptive warfighting, citing a DARPA study of World War II combat. Battalions that displayed adaptive warfighting fared better than those that did not, the study found. But it is one thing to say, “Adaptive warfighting is good,” and another to teach Marines how to (in Barrick’s word) “discern” when the moment to change has arrived. But it is the critical factor in a fight, and something wargaming can teach, especially with the methods the Wargaming Cloud allows MCU to employ.

On 3 October, the cloud had its first chance to shine (if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor). In conjunction with the Expeditionary Warfare School, the MCU wargaming team staged an event with 240 students, using an adapted version of Flashpoint Campaigns, a game with a lot of customizability.

In June 2023 the Canadian War Museum will open a special exhibit on wargaming. In the run-up, CBC News discusses “The (sometimes) serious business of war gaming.”

As a senior historian at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Andrew Burtch has taken to wandering the galleries during the day to see which displays pique the interest of visitors.

Amid the dimly-lit recesses of the Second World War and Cold War exhibits, he’s noticed a strange phenomenon: clusters of school kids debating, in surprising detail, the merits of individual weapons.

“So, after seeing this habit occur a couple of times, I eventually said, ‘Hey, yeah, do you know about these weapons? Why are you talking about them?'” Burtch said. “And they said, ‘Oh, well, we play with these weapons in the games we play, you know, first-person shooters. Call of Duty.'”

It was startling for Burtch, a gamer himself.

“It got me to thinking that people approach history through many different ways,” he said.

Some engage with past wars through personal experience, he said — by meeting a veteran or talking a family member who served.

“But a lot of people have none of those personal connections, and instead approach it through media, and in particular, in a growing number of ways, through games,” he added.

It’s an intriguing idea —  intriguing enough to convince the Ottawa-based museum to embark on a major research project with an eye to standing up a full display for visitors next spring.

The effect of war games on society — and history — is becoming a major field of study in Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere.

Burtch said he approaches the subject with caution and in the full knowledge that games, like movies, have the potential to skew or distort views of past events.

If you want to see the exhibit, consider attending the next Connections North professional wargaming conference, which will be held at the Museum on 9 June 2023.

At The Futurist, Stephen Aguilar-Millan discusses lessons learned from the Arctic climate change game Green Arctic.

At the Transitional Matters podcast, Arnel David and Nick Moran discuss how games are changing warfare.

Will gamers win the next war?

What does playing games even have to do with real-life military strategy?

What data processing do we retain the preserve of humans, and what should be passed on to AI?

Can gaming make the learning experience richer?

These are all super important questions. 

In this episode, we try and answer these questions by taking a deep dive into the fascinating developments happening in the military sphere. Specifically the use of gaming – and how the technology behind this starting to be used to drive better strategy and more informed decision-making in a military setting. But, of course, its application is far wider.

To talk about this topic, Chris has invited two military experts with active-duty experience, who sit right at the forefront of this development. US Army Strategist Colonel Arnel David and British Army Lieutenant Colonel Nick Moran. Both Arnel and Nick bring a wealth of information and insight into the use of AI in the military setting, as well as discuss some of their observations from their setting up and running of the military strategy game, Fight Club International: a gaming experimentation group seeking to improve the efficacy of warfighting across the spectrum of conflict and competition.

Here’s a link to an article Nick and Arnel wrote that we touch on in the episode. Why Gamers Will Win The Next War.

A recent article by Stephen Wertheim in the New York Times asks if America can envisage WWIII. Wargaming is mentioned extensively:

Mr. Biden seems to be saying that defending Taiwan would be worth the price of war with China. But what would such a war entail?

A series of recent war games held by think tanks help us to imagine what it would look like: First, a war will likely last a long time and take many lives. Early on, China would have incentives to mount a massive attack with its now highly developed long-range strike capability to disable U.S. forces stationed in the Pacific. Air Force Gen. Mark D. Kelly said that China’s forces are “designed to inflict more casualties in the first 30 hours of combat than we’ve endured over the last 30 years in the Middle East.”

In most rounds of a war game recently conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the United States swiftly lost two aircraft carriers, each carrying at least 5,000 people, on top of hundreds of aircraft, according to reports. One participant noted that although each simulation varied, “what almost never changes is it’s a bloody mess and both sides take some terrible losses.” At some stage, those Selective Service registrations required of young American men might need to be expanded and converted into a draft.

Second, each side would be tempted to escalate. This summer, the Center for a New American Security held a war game that ended with China detonating a nuclear weapon near Hawaii. “Before they knew it,” both Washington and Beijing “had crossed key red lines, but neither was willing to back down,” the conveners concluded. Especially in a prolonged war, China could mount cyberattacks to disrupt critical American infrastructure. It might shut off the power in a major city, obstruct emergency services or bring down communications systems. A new current of fear and suspicion would course through American society, joining up with the nativism that has reverberated through national politics since Sept. 11.

The economic consequences would be equally severe. A Chinese invasion of Taiwan, which produces most of the world’s advanced semiconductors, would profoundly damage the U.S. and global economy regardless of Washington’s response. (To this end, the United States has been trying to move more semiconductor manufacturing home.) But a U.S.-China war would risk catastrophic losses. Researchers at RAND estimate that a yearlong conflict would slash America’s gross domestic product by 5 to 10 percent. By contrast, the U.S. economy contracted 2.6 percent in 2009, the worst year of the Great Recession. The gas price surge early in the Ukraine war provides only the slightest preview of what a U.S.-China war would generate. For the roughly three-fifths of Americans who currently live paycheck to paycheck, the war would come home in millions of lost jobs, wrecked retirements, high prices and shortages.

In short, a war with Russia or China would likely injure the United States on a scale without precedent in the living memory of most citizens. That, in turn, introduces profound uncertainty about how the American political system would perform.

RAND is developing The Migration Game, intended for eventual public sale. According to King Mallory on LinkedIn:

“Borders and Values” is a donor-funded serious board game intended to teach practitioners, university, and advanced high school audiences about the challenges, tradeoffs and competing interests at play in U.S. immigration and border security policy. There are four teams – representing migrants, governments, the business community, and civil society groups – each play and seek to succeed at achieving their own individual goals, all the while interacting with the other players pursuing their own distinct objectives. A novel element of the game is that it has been designed so that players can play either pursuing a pro-border-security policy or a pro-immigration policy. Players inured to one role can gain new insights and perspectives by playing the role of the other players. In this session, the designers presented the current version of the game and played through a couple of turns to demonstrate some of the game’s interesting features and how it allows players to explore and pursue consensus in this important and contentious policy area. Further rounds of beta testing with Congressional staff and Homeland Security professionals are planned before the game’s eventual public release.

According to Businessworld, the Indian military is establishing a Wargame Research and Development Centre:

After getting a nod from the Ministry of Defence project WARDEC was started in May this year. Wargame Research and Development Centre in Delhi focuses on a simulation-based training facility. AI will be used to create virtual reality wargames at the center, this program would enable a better understanding of situations that are unforeseen till now.

Different types of military exercises have been organised around the world by various nations but practicing the same in a simulation would be something new. India has the 4th largest military in the world, and now moving towards AI-based programs for enhancing skills is going to make it stronger.

The Army will use the Wargame Research and Development Centre to train its troops and evaluate their tactics through metaverse-enabled gameplay. The focus is to teach military strategy to its officers through the interface. The metaverse, which combines virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to mimic its surroundings, will put soldiers’ skills to the test.

At the CIMSEC blog Robert Rubel discusses the importance of wargaming Naval War College education.

In the mid-1980s, the U.S. Army developed its concept of AirLand Battle and imported the Soviet concept of operational art. Soon after, the Naval War College shifted the focus of its military operations course from tactics to operational-level concepts. At the time I was a planning and decision-making instructor in the department. The imposition of joint education requirements only reinforced the focus on the operational level. Tactics became almost an epithet for contaminating discussions of operational-level matters.

Since the Naval War College was, and still is, the only place where students can study the combined operations of the various warfare communities, the deletion of tactics in its courses fragmented tactical development in the Navy and undermined the college’s purported operational-level focus. I remember vividly in the late 1980s when Vice Admiral Duke Hernandez spoke at the College and described his approach to using Third Fleet as a whole to counter a Soviet attack in the Pacific. His discussion of combined naval tactics mesmerized the student body, but tactics were still shunned by the College.

The fall of the Soviet Union turned the numbered fleets into area administrators and fleet tactics evaporated, being supplanted by security cooperation plans and the tactics of individual platforms. Now that China constitutes a substantial threat to U.S. command of the sea in the Western Pacific, the Navy must rediscover fleet tactics, and reinvigorate the College’s role in warfighting education.

The Navy badly needs for the Naval War College command and staff course to become a year-long classified wargame-centric warfighting course. In such a course students would gain a fleet-level perspective on tactics and be able to link them to operational art and strategy. Joint aspects would necessarily be included, but not in the abstract way they are in current JPME. Classified capabilities and tactics must be included. The development of multi-domain and distributed maritime operations cannot be properly accomplished without fleet-level tactical logic.

At the Institute for World Politics, Aaron Danis has been playing ISIS Crisis with students–and cupcakes.

“Preparing and implementing an effective strategy is the goal of this simulation,” stated Prof. Danis. “Teams are laying the groundwork for long-term success while battling an enemy bent on destroying them.”  When the game starts in July 2014, ISIS is in the driver’s seat, and the embattled Iraqi government needs to fight them while building a broad-based government and leveraging the tools of potential allies.

ISIS Crisis forced me to use a limited array of tools of statecraft to achieve my non-state actor’s goals which meant that creativity and originality were important,” stated graduate student Parker Sears in his role as ISIS’ military commander. “This experience was valuable, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in international affairs.”

An after action report on a Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations wargame conducted at Marine Corps Intelligence Schools in September 2022 can be found at the The Warfighting Society blog.

Ireland’s National Cyber Security Centre recently held “an emergency exercise simulating the national response to a hypothetical large-scale cyber incident affecting Ireland’s energy sector.” According to the Irish Times:

The aim of the exercise, which took place in the National Emergency Coordination Centre, was to test the procedures outlined in the National Cyber Emergency Plan to ensure the Government, State agencies, and relevant stakeholders are prepared for a cyber attack on critical infrastructure.

The Garda, the Defence Forces, ESB Networks, EirGrid, Gas Networks Ireland, the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities, and a third-party cyber incident provider took part in the exercise.

In early November, the US Army War College held an international crisis simulation at the Penn State School of International Affairs.

Each year, the Army War College, based in Carlisle, sends a team with a crisis simulation to provide students with the opportunity to experience what a real-world crisis and resolution process could involve. Col. Michael Stinchfield, Lt. Col. Chris Miller, and Edmund “Cliffy’ Zukowski oversaw the simulation, along with former U.S. Ambassador Dennis Jett, professor of international affairs at SIA, who acted as the United Nations Special Representative.

“It is the most popular part of INTAF 802, which is a core course on the fundamentals of diplomacy. The students really enjoy playing the parts they are assigned and get into their roles with enthusiasm,” said Jett. “Each year there is a different scenario about a particular international problem. This year it dealt with the South China Sea.”

Jett described how the simulation works. “The students were divided into seven teams representing the countries most directly involved — China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, U.S., Japan, and the Philippines. The fundamental skills are formulating and negotiating a strategy that represents your country’s interests. We prepare for this event in several ways during the semester in order to develop those skills,” he said.

At the Games for Social Transformation blog, Magnus Persson has been discussing the design of climate change games.

This blog is meant to function as a research journal that will allow me to reflect on both my thoughts and ideas during the game design process and how and why I made the choices I made after the design process is concluded. It is also a way to allow members of the Changing the Game of Consumption project group and stakeholders in the Mistra project to stay up to date with the game design process and encourage them to contribute to it between meetings. Moreover, it is intended to give game designers insight into the process of designing a megagame. Regardless of your interest in my blog, I hope you enjoy it and learn something from reading it!

The Washington Post reports on the steady growth of the board gaming industry in recent years.

The global board game market has an estimated value between $11billion and $13.4 billion and is projected to grow by about 7 to 11 percent within the next 5 years, according to market research companies Technavio and Imarc. Year-to-date board game sales last month compared to the same period in 2019 increased 28 percent, according to market research company NPD Group. Card games are up 29 percent and strategic card games — such as Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering — are up 208 percent.

The crowdfunding platform Kickstarter has made it easier than ever for unknown designers to release games. Over 3,000 new games are released each year (excluding expansion packs), according to the website and online forum BoardGameGeek, which aims to log every game published. The industry now has more categories and themes, prettier boxes and higher quality game pieces. In many cases, the rules are simpler and there are more offerings that focus on cooperation rather than competition.

These developments have opened the doors for a broader audience to embrace the hobby. There are also board game YouTube channels, like Watch it Played, that aim to making it easier for people to become gamers.

Games started gaining popularity in the years leading up to the pandemic, said James Zahn, the editor in chief of trade publication the Toy Book. Board game bars and cafes had been popping up around the country and attendance at major games conventions was increasing.

Even as covid sent people home, many still bought card and tabletop games. Sales surged, the NPD data shows, suggesting that many families who found themselves forced to spend time together looked for ways to connect through games and puzzles.

The trend continued once restrictions eased, and people craved social interactions following years of seclusion, NPD data shows. Major retailers are also embracing the hobby — broadening past the classic board games produced by major toy companies.

The Society for the promotion of radical analogue games intends “convene a series of meetings and exchanges among analogue game-makers who recognize the need for radical social change and believe that games might be a small part of that process.” You’ll find full details here.

We at PAXsims welcome our new AI chat overlords

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI, currently free online. It is able to hold surprisingly realistic conversations or write accurate (or accurate-sounding) material in a matter of seconds in response to a plain-language query or set of instructions.

Here it is apparently channeling Stephen Downes-Martin:

Those of you in defence and security institutions who have yet to endorse diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming could certainly benefit from help from ChatGPT’s AI-generated commitment to principles:

Chat GPT can also be used to quickly write plausible game injects. Here are a few examples that might be useful in a asymmetric warfare game, a geopolitical crisis game, and a defence acquisition game respectively:



2023 NATO field school and simulation program

Simon Fraser University is currently accepting applications for its 2023 NATO field school and simulation program.

The NATO Field School and Simulation Program is an intensive political science experience that combines coursework with experiential learning.

The NATO Field School and Simulation Program is open to students from all NATO nations. The program gives students the to observe professionals and experts in their working environment and be immersed in the decisions that political, diplomatic, and military personnel face. This includes visiting embedded experts from the Department of National Defence, Global Affairs Canada, the Canadian Armed Forces, NATO and academia, as well as high-level briefings at NATO HQ, SHAPE, EU Military Staff HQ, European External Action Services and NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence and the Canadian Delegation to the European Union. Like a dynamic practicum or apprenticeship, the NATO Field School prepares you for entry-level employment in foreign affairs, defence policy and various national and international security sectors, as well as international NGO sectors.

Full information at the link above.

AOD launch (Toronto, November 12)

Archipelago of Design will hold a “Primer Launch, Fair & Networking Event for Security & Innovation” on November 12, in Toronto.

The Archipelago of Design invites you to join us 7PM-10PM Saturday November 12, 2022 at OCAD U, 130 Queens Quay East, Floor 4R, Toronto, M5A 0P6 to celebrate the release of the Collaborative Innovative Thinking by Design for the Canadian Armed Forcesand meet and greet the Archipelago of Design community in a fair exposing its most promising projects.

7PM – Primer Launch with Major-General Simon Bernard, OMM, CD, Director General Military Personnel Strategic, Canadian Armed Forces, ambassador to the Archipelago of Design (AOD) Network.

8PM – AOD Fair including demos of Breakthrough, our investigative tabletop game to seamlessly develop sense-making and problem framing skills, a preview of AOD’s forthcoming Design model based on 9 archetypes of innovators in Canadian Armed forces and projects on Climate Change and Security and Social activities! 

Havel: Wargaming the information environment

The latest issue of Canadian Army Today 6, 2 (Fall 2022) contains an article by Sean Havel (Defence Research and Development Canada) describing a series of three innovative information and influence wargames conducted for the NATO System Analysis Studies (SAS) 151 group last year. The scenario for those games involved efforts by the hostile and authoritarian Illyrian Federal Republic (RED) to exert influence over the neighbouring Hypatian Commonweath (GREEN), with Hypatia enjoying support from the Organization for Collective Security (BLUE), an alliance of liberal democracies. (Full disclosure: I served as RED team lead in the first and most of the third game, and as BLUE team lead in the second.)

  • In the first game, IFR sought to influence elections in Hypatia so as to weaken pro-OCS politicians and further its interests more broadly.
  • In the second game, Hypatia conducted a referendum on joining the OCS, which RED and BLUE sought to influence towards “No” and “Yes” respectively.
  • In the third game, the IFR sought to mobilize ethnic discontent in Hypatia so as to provide suitable conditions for military intervention.

Here is where the games were truly innovative: the effects of information and influence operations were largely adjudicated by having real people play ordinary citizens, each with differing social, demographic, and political profiles, in a simulated social media environment established using Discord. In short, to influence people you actually had to influence them through careful crafting of content, and appropriate targeting and delivery. You will find a much more detailed account in the article above, in this Connections North 2022 presentation by Sean, and (for those with access) a forthcoming technical paper. I’ve also briefly mentioned the games in an earlier PAXsims piece.

How did it all turn out? From a technical and methodological point of view, there were some issues regarding situational awareness and feedback mechanisms. The approach also faces potential challenges of validation and verification—how do you know your roleplay citizens will act like the real thing? Overall, however, I thought it was all remarkably successful for an experimental game.

In term of the scenario, the IFR did extremely well in the first game, dramatically weakening pro-OCS political parties in Hypatia, strengthening pro-IFR parties, and generally fostering political disillusionment and fragmentation. In the second game, the OCS managed to counter IFR propaganda well enough to secure a narrow majority for the “Yes” side in the referendum. In the third game, the IFR was again very pleased with the result, stoking resentment and political polarization to the point of open armed confrontation between the central government and (ethnic Illyrian) minority. What was remarkable was that this was not because of a high die roll or some adjudicator decision, but rather by convincing more than a quarter of the real people playing simulated citizens that armed opposition was preferable to central government rule—an opinion almost none of them had held at the start. Moreover, this was achieved in a relatively traditional way: RED had eschewed the use of deepfakes or other more complex techniques and instead applied a combination of well-established intelligence gathering techniques to understand the political environment; carefully designed and targeted messages; rapid, agile information operations that combined decentralization with overarching strategic themes and guidance; and simple sockpuppet accounts, proxies, and botnets to signal boost its information activities. While the social media angle was new, much of it would have been recognizable to the propagandists of WW2—or diplomats, advertising executives, and political party strategists today. It also proved to be strikingly similar in tone and apprpoach to the very successful information operations currently being conducted by Ukraine and the social media antics of NAFO.

h/t Brian Train

Connections Japan 2022

An international conference on policy Japan—”Connections Japan”—will be held via Zoom on Tuesday, 15 November 2022. Japanese-English simultaneous interpretation will be provided.

Preparation for unforeseen events has never been more important than now in dealing with security issues like a challenge to the existing international order, which is exemplified by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that many people did not anticipate, the continuation of gray-zone competition, and hybrid warfare.

The “Policy Simulation”, also known as the Political/Military Wargame, has been gaining global attention as an instrument that can contribute to the formulation of flexible and appropriate responses to these situations.

Against this backdrop, a series of international conferences called “Connections,” which originated in the United States and the United Kingdom, has been held in many developed countries as a platform to share and develop knowledge on policy simulation methods.

The NIDS, which has been utilizing policy simulation in supporting policy planning and education since 2015, will hold the International Conference on Policy Simulation “Connections Japan” for the first time on November 15, 2022. The conference is expected to provide an opportunity for the Japanese policy simulation community, including the MOD/SDF, to share their own practices and promote mutual exchange, as well as to learn insights on advanced strategic-level simulations and wargaming in the US/UK.

Full details and a registration link can be found at the National Institute for Defence Studies website.

Concordia University: Wargame design speakers series on the Taiwan and Ukraine conflicts

The Concordia University political science students’ Strategic and Diplomatic Society and the Canadian Centre for Strategic Studies welcome you to their speaker series on the subject of Wargame Design of the Taiwan and Ukraine Conflicts. We have invited the leading simulation designers of the last sixty years, many of whose commercial wargames have anticipated and predicted the outcomes of wars. Their biographies are at the bottom. 

Zoom Link: https://concordia-ca.zoom.us/j/84486539271 (NEW ZOOM LINK)

Time: 19:00-22:00 Eastern Standard Time

  • OCT 13           Frank Chadwick 
  • OCT 20           Charles Kamps 
  • NOV 3            Mark Herman 
  • NOV 10          Joseph Miranda 
  • NOV 17          David Isby

Format: The special series comprises a 30-minute presentation, followed by a 30 minute questions and answers, a 15 minute break, followed by an hour and 45 minute interactive workshop where the speakers will engage in a free form consideration of simulating important aspects of contemporary conflicts. Contact: Prof Julian Spencer-Churchill, julian.spencer-churchill@concordia.ca

Biographies 

Frank Chadwick

Frank Chadwick has designed historical and contemporary military simulations professionally for almost fifty years–designing over seventy published military simulations in that time.He has authored nineteen history articles in various periodicals, over 250 military history columns, and fourteen military history and game books, of which the Desert Shield Fact Book reached number one on the New York Times best seller list. In the last ten years he has written eight science fiction novels (most of them published by Baen Books). He is currently working on a trilogy of historical novels set in the ancient Persian Empire, a series of five large boardgames covering the European Theater of Operations in World War Two for GMT Games (Frank Chadwick’s ETO), and a freelance project on the Russo-Ukrainian War. He also teaches military history and creative writing at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Illinois, and serves on their Advisory Council. Developer of some of the most sophisticated culturally and doctrinally sensitive simulations, including Suez ’73 Battle for the Chinese Farm, the Third World War series, the tactical Assault series, and the exceptionally researched detailed simulations of Beda Fomm, which included General O’Connor as a living source.  Mr. Chadwick has demonstrated the ability to unpack the sources of performance in Suez ’73, in the complex interplay between technology, terrain, training, vehicle recovery, and artillery doctrine. The Assault series demonstrates the interaction of modern combined arms operations intersecting with national doctrinal effects, including the role of engineers. The Third World War series demonstrates the effects of a multi-front campaign built on a non-equilibriated alliance trade-off system.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Chadwick

Frank Chadwick wargame design profile: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamedesigner/335/frank-chadwick/linkeditems/boardgamedesigner

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Charles Kamps 

Professor Charles T. Kamps served as a US Army Armor officer, and later as a US Navy Surface Warfare Officer, ending his military career on the OPNAV Staff at the Pentagon. As a program manager and senior analyst for the defense consulting firm of Braddock, Dunn, and McDonald, he worked classified projects for the CIA, DIA, Army ITAC, and the DOD Office of Net Assessment.  Professor Kamps was the longest serving faculty member of the USAF Air Command & Staff College (Maxwell AFB) retiring in 2018.  He is the author of the History of the Vietnam War, and co-author of Armies of NATO’s Central Front (with David Isby), and over thirty defense articles, including two for the Chinese edition of Air & Space Power Journal. Professor Kamps designed a number of classified wargames for the US government, and eight wargames for the commercial market.  As the main designer of the Central Front Series, he produced a detailed system involving operational-level combat during the Cold War period.  His Central Command and Nordkapp games extended Cold War combat into the peripheral regions of US/Soviet conflict. 

Wargame design profile:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamedesigner/332/charles-t-kamps

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John Prados 

John Prados is an analyst of national security based in Washington, DC. Prados holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University in Political Science (International Relations, 1981) and focuses on presidential power, international relations, intelligence and military affairs. He is a senior fellow and project director with the National Security Archive at George Washington University. Prados heads the Archive’s documentation projects for the CIA and for Vietnam, and assists with the Archive’s projects on Afghanistan and Iraq. His most recent book is The Ghosts of Langley: Inside the CIA’s Heart of Darkness (The New Press). Before that were Storm Over Leyte: The Philippine Invasion and the Destruction of the Japanese Navy (NAL/Caliber) and Safe for Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA Ivan R. Dee Publisher). In paperback are The Family Jewels: The CIA, Secrecy, and Presidential Power (University of Texas Press), The US Special Forces: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press), Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun (NAL/Penguin), and Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945-1975 (University Presses of Kansas). A current e-book is “A Streetcar Named Pleiku” (nowandthenreader.com). Other notable works include How the Cold War Ended: Debating and Doing History (Potomac), The Family Jewels, Presidents’ Secret Wars (originally William Morrow), Keepers of the Keys (also William Morrow), Hoodwinked (New Press), and The Lost Crusader (Oxford University Press). Other books include The Blood Road: The Ho Chi Minh Trail and the Vietnam War (John Wiley & Sons), The Hidden History of the Vietnam War (Ivan R. Dee Publisher), Normandy Crucible: The Decisive Battle That Shaped World War II in Europe (NAL/Caliber), and In Country: Remembering the Vietnam War (Rowman & Littlefield).

   Prados is author of thirty-two books in all, with titles on national security, the American presidency, intelligence, diplomatic and military history, including Vietnam, the Soviet Union, and World War II. Pathbreaking at the time were his history of the National Security Council, Keepers of the Keys; while The Soviet Estimate: U.S. Intelligence and Soviet Strategic Forces became a key resource for understanding Soviet military powerSome of his works have appeared in British editions or been translated into French, Chinese, or Vietnamese.

   Unwinnable War is a winner of the Henry Adams Prize in American History. In addition the works Vietnam: Unwinnable War, Keepers of the Keys and Combined Fleet Decoded were each nominated by their publishers for the Pulitzer Prize. Other awarded works include Combined Fleet Decoded, which won the book award of the New York Military Affairs Symposium and was a “notable naval book of the year” for the U.S. Naval Institute; The Soviet Estimate which received the book prize of the Consortium for the Study of Intelligence; and Valley of Decision, also a “notable naval book of the year” for the U.S. Naval Institute. Prados has chapters in thirty-three other books, and entries in six reference works. More are forthcoming. He is the Author of the Year for Naval History magazine for 2021. All this is in addition to his extensive work on simulations and boardgames, including such classic titles as Third Reich. He is an award-winning designer of board strategy games for many publishers.

   Prados has written books and many papers and articles on the CIA, including Safe for Democracy. Works on Vietnam include The Hidden History of the Vietnam War, a volume examining the lack of “perfect strategies” for the United States in that conflict; The Blood Road, a book reframing the war through the lens of the Ho Chi Minh Trail; Valley of Decision, a detailed history of the siege of Khe Sanh (Houghton Mifflin), written with veteran Ray Stubbe; Inside the Pentagon Papers (Harper & Row), a study of this controversial Department of Defense war review (University Press of Kansas), written and edited with Margaret Pratt-Porter; Operation Vulture, a diplomatic-military history of Dien Bien Phu; and In Country, an anthology of combat writing from the Vietnam war.

  Among edited works are Hoodwinked: The Documents That Reveal How Bush Sold Us a WarThe White House Tapes: Eavesdropping on the Presidents (written and edited book and CD collection); America Responds to Terrorism;  and In Country, an anthology of combat writing from the Vietnam war.

   Prados has served as historical consultant to RGoldfilms, originators of the Oscar-nominated history documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America (2009),  to Carl Colby Films for The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby (2011), and to WGBH Television for their production of The American Experience: Spy in the Sky (2003).

   His papers have appeared in the journals Intelligence and National Security, Journal of American History, Diplomatic History, Political Science Quarterly, and the Journal of East-West Studies. His “Electronic Briefing Books” on important subjects of Iraq, intelligence, and Vietnam war history can be found on the National Security Archive website, www.nsarchiv.org. He has authored dozens of feature articles for MHQ. His pieces have appeared widely, including in Vanity Fair, The Washington Post Outlook, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, The VVA Veteran, the American Legion Magazine, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Naval History, The American ProspectScientific AmericanAgainst the Odds, Strategy & Tactics and elsewhere. Internet articles have appeared atNeimanWatchdog.comFP.org, Foreign Policy in Focus, SHAFR.org, History News Network, Tompaine.comTNR.com, American Prospect Online, and elsewhere. His book reviews have also appeared widely. A variety of Prados commentaries and other materials are available on his website, www.johnprados.com.

Wargame Design Profile:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamedesigner/226/john-prados/linkeditems/boardgamedesigner

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Mark Herman  

Mark Herman is one of the most prolific wargame designers, particularly at the operational theatre level, the strategic level, and the level of political grand-strategy and diplomacy. His Gulf Strike anticipated the U.S. and allied strategy in 1991 Operation Desert Storm. His Pacific War set the standard for realistic models of the Pacific War. Other innovative designs have included Aegean Strike, Flashpoint Golan, and Churchill, and Versailles. 

Wargame Design Profile:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamedesigner/152/mark-herman/linkeditems/boardgamedesigner

https://www.e-markherman.com/bibliography

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Joseph Miranda 

Mr. Joseph Miranda produced the first China-Taiwan confrontation simulation in 2002, which modelled the impact of cyberwarfare and infowar that affects national allegiances and political resilience, what is today called cognitive warfare. He is a former U.S. Army officer who has taught unconventional warfare topics at the JFK Special Warfare Center, and more recently has developed courses in terrorism and Middle Eastern conflict for Chapman University. He has been a featured speaker at the USAF Connections simulations conference, the Military Operations Research Society, and the Origins national wargaming convention. Joseph Miranda is the editor of Strategy & Tactics magazine and has designed over 250 published wargames.[1] Miranda has also worked for various computer game design firms including HPS Simulations and Hexagon Interactive.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Miranda_(game_designer)

Wargame Design Profile:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamedesigner/337/joseph-miranda/linkeditems/boardgamedesigner

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David Isby

David C. Isby is a Washington-based attorney and defense consultant. A special correspondent for Jane’s Intelligence Review, he has contributed to many military and aviation publications and written extensively on the Russian armed forces. He lives in Washington D.C. David C. Isby is a prolific wargame designer, in particular of Air War, Mukden, and Invasion: Sicily, as well as having published a book Wargame Design (Strategy & Tactics Press).

https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-isby-0b98256

https://jamestown.org/analyst/david-c-isby/

https://www.defensemedianetwork.com/author/david-isby/

Wargame Design Profile:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamedesigner/692/david-c-isby/linkeditems/boardgamedesigner

King’s Wargaming Network update

Here is an update for the 2022-23 academic year from David Banks and Anna Nettleship of the King’s Wargaming Network:

As the Wargaming Network enters its fifth academic year, we are pleased to announce staff promotions and welcome a new cohort of MA and PhD students. 

Anna Nettleship will be taking on the role of Managing Director of the Wargaming Network, having served as the network’s coordinator since its inception. As a PhD candidate at the Defence Studies Department, Anna has been developing and applying wargaming as a research method in her dissertation on US Army doctrinal development practices. Since 2019, she has led the wargaming analyst training programme, of which she is an alumnus.  

Dr. David Banks is the Wargaming Lecturer at King’s College London War Studies Department and will continue to serve as Academic Director of the King’s Wargaming Network. His wargaming research has investigated the potential use of cyber weapons in future conflicts, as well the use of counter-insurgency techniques against Boko Haram. His current research is focused on determining the epistemological foundations of wargames. In addition to his wargaming research, Dr. Banks is also studying diplomatic practice in international society, with a special emphasis on symbolic and rhetorical diplomacy. 

Dr Aggie Hirst has been promoted from Senior Lecturer to Reader, based in part on her work on wargaming. She recently published an article with International Studies Quarterly titled ‘Wargames Resurgent: The Hyperrealities of Military Gaming from Recruitment to Rehabilition‘, and is writing up her book ‘Politics of Play: Wargaming with the US Military’, which will be published with Oxford University Press next year. 

Dr James W.E. Smith is a research fellow in the Department of War Studies having been awarded his PhD from King’s in 2021. As one of our founding members, he continues to input into the future direction of the Wargaming Network. He continues to represent the interests of two of the School of Security Studies themes, Strategic Studies and Military and Political History while leading naval and astro wargaming. 

Boukje Kistemaker is entering her second year as a part-time PhD. Her research focuses on transformational (un)learning and the development of organizational intelligence through experiential learning. 

Arnel David is continuing his PhD research on prototyping warfare using applied research and experimenting with gaming and artificial intelligence to explore new ways of decision-making, concept development, and organizational learning to improve strategic performance at multiple levels in defence and government. Arnel was recently selected as a National Defense University Scholar to align his research to support and feed into theoretical requirements at the Pentagon. 

And we are pleased to welcome Evan D’Alessandro to the cohort of wargaming PhDs here at King’s. Evan is a professional wargamer with a background in environmental science, undersea cables, and modern war in the Pacific. He is researching how immersion is produced and what effects it has in professional wargaming. 

Finally, we wish to say farewell to Ivanka Barzashka, a founding co-director of the WN, as she moves on to a full-time role as CEO of Strand Analytica, a US-UK tech startup. Ivanka co-founded Strand Analytica to accelerate the development of strategic wargaming as a science and make advanced tools for game design, data collection and analysis more widely available. She will continue to engage in fundamental research on wargaming epistemology, methodology and ethics, and applied research as a visiting fellow at the Department of War Studies. 

We look forward to sharing our upcoming agenda for the 2022-2023 academic year and to your participation in our new slate of wargaming events.  

Wargaming and The Cycle of Research and Learning

The Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies has just published a new paper by Peter Perla (who needs no introduction — and if he does you have not been paying attention) in which he expands on his ideas concerning the cycle of research.

FROM THE ABSTRACT:

“Some thirty years ago, I coined the concept of the Cycle of Research, which described how wargaming, exercises and analysis, coupled with real-world operations and history, have worked together in concert to help the national-security community to understand better political-military reality and its past and future evolutions. When first proposed, I had in mind the uses of Wargaming in the analytical context, or what the community of professional wargamers most often calls research wargaming. Over the years, however, I began to recognize how much the same integration of tools and techniques can—and should—influence education and training for national-security professionals, both uniform and civilian: In essence, a Cycle of Learning. In this paper I explore these ideas more fully.”

Perla, P. (2022). Wargaming and The Cycle of Research and Learning. Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies5(1), 197–208. DOI: http://doi.org/10.31374/sjms.124

1CMBG homebrew wargame development

LCol Cole Petersen, Chief of Staff at 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, recently took to Twitter to discuss the process whereby 1CMBG is producing its own home-brew wargame. The thread is well worth a read!

There’s also an update:

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