On October 17, Headquarters Forces Command (HQ FORCOMD) held the Australian Army Wargaming Conference at Victoria Barracks, Sydney. Presentations from that conference can now be seen online via The Cove (the Australian Army’s open-access professional development website) and YouTube.
Opening address by MAJGEN Mick Krause.
MAJGEN Krause (himself a hobby wargamer) stresses the importance of genuine competition—something that wargaming can offer. The “essence of tactics,” he suggested, is creativity—but assessment for promotion tends to emphasize binary yes/no, pass/fail measurements. He expressed concern that most wargames currently in use in the Australian Army tend to emphasize attrition, and underrepresent the human factors that shape military outcomes. Consequence, they fail to teach the “very essence of our profession.” Wargaming helps players to visualize tactics and experience some of the cognitive stress of warfare. Wargames need to be realistic, easy to use (if they are to be used, and used repeatedly), and teach good tactics (demonstrating combined arms effects in the battle space).
It’s an excellent and inspiring presentation, and there is useful discussion in the Q&A period too.
LTCOL Nick Bosio on “Johnny, Timmy and Spike” Enhancing Decision Making Through Gaming.”
LTCOL Bosio discussed how wargaming can contribute to decision-making. He focuses on three issues: the breadth of available games, why people game, and how humans make decisions. Drawing upon one typology of player types—”Spike” (who loves to win), “Timmy” (who enjoys the game narrative), and “Johnny” (the contrarian)—he goes on to discuss how gaming can contribute to the development of underlying cognitive skills and heuristics. Gaming against a live opponent may contribute to better cost/benefit analysis. I particularly enjoyed his discussion of why “Timmy” skills are important—namely that campaigns are a “story” of lethal and non-lethal effects that must be combined to alter an opponent’s perceptions and will. Timmy-types may be able to rise above functional specializations to better understand this broader picture.
PAXsim’s very own ISIS CRISIS, now available as part of the Matrix Game Construction Kit (MaGCK), gets a mention too.
SGT Tyron Casey introduces the Australian Defence Force Wargaming Association (ADFWGA).
SGT Casey offered an overview of the Australian Defence Force Wargaming Association, which was first established in 2009/10 by military personnel who enjoy (hobby) wargaming. Today it has some 270 members. The ADFWA promotes hobby wargaming as way of developing tactically-relevant skills, organizes events, and raises funds for charity. ADFWA also encourages the chain-of-command to support wargaming activities by their personnel.
I’m not sure if it was mentioned at the conference, but this is probably a good time to also remind any Australian readers that the Connections Oz 2017 wargaming conference will be held on 11-13 December at the University of Melbourne. I was fortunate to attend a couple of years ago, and had a great time.