31 August 2011

GameTalk - Nation-Building

Yesterday's "Sound Off" brings up the follow-on question:

How do you build this into a game?

In any examination of current military events, there's a need to understand the civilian governance component of the conflict. How does this aspect influence the design and implementation of current-events wargames?

What games do it well?
What games try, and fail, to do it?
What games aren't doing it but should?

By: Brant

I Can Haz Wargame

h/t Blackcloud 6

By: Brant

30 August 2011

Sound Off! Nation-Building?

This week it isn't a choice, you get to extemporize instead.

Define "nation building".
And tell us what government agency should have lead responsibility for it (yes, we know this'll be different for people in different countries).

Sound off in the comments!

By: Brant

Last Week in Photos at the DoD

Last Week In Photos at the DoD.

More at the link.

By: Brant

29 August 2011

Prioritize D-I-M-E


Clearly, if you take the "M" out of DIME you get "DIE", but does that make the "M" most important?

Prioritize DIME. Why put them in the order you did? Under what circumstances might your priorities change?

By: Brant

UK In Action: Commando Gunners

The Commandant General Royal Marines' Prize in the Peregrine Trophy 2011 competition went to LA(Phot) Si Ethell fora portfolio including this image. The FSG (Fire Support Group) of Charlie Company 40 Commando Royal Marines, at FOB (Forward Operating Base) Jackson in Afghanistan engaging insurgents following contact at PB (Patrol Base) Paylae.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Arlington's New "Ghosts"

The Old Guard are on a mission to photograph every grave in Arlington.

The Old Guard troops typically escort remains and fire three-volley salutes at military funerals. When taking photos, they have middle-of-the-night run-ins with rabbits, foxes and deer in the cemetery, which is situated on the estate where Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee once lived. Using head lamps to light their way, they've tripped in shallow holes and brushed aside countless spider webs. They've paused at seeing freshly dug graves prepared for the next day's funerals.
One soldier, Spc. Raymond Piron, 22, of Detroit, says he was working one night in an old section of the cemetery when he felt something tap him on the shoulder. He turned around, but he was alone.
Before this summer, Spc. Craig Green, 21, of Dover, Del., a broad-shouldered, tough-looking Iraq war veteran, says that when it came to walking cemeteries at night, "you couldn't pay me to do it."
At least one of the soldiers, Sgt. Yvens Saintil, 26, of Philadelphia, who has done two tours in Iraq, says he has friends buried in the cemetery. He has taken time to find their graves and pay respects, even though his duties didn't include photographing their graves.
"At first I was kind of sad a little bit, but it's just part of the mission to continue your mission," Saintil says while standing in the columbarium shortly after sunrise on a recent morning.
The mission is called Task Force Christman, in honor of Pvt. William Henry Christman, an Easton, Pa., native and Civil War soldier who was the first soldier buried at Arlington. The troops executing it are from Delta Company of the 1st Battalion of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as the Old Guard — the Army's official ceremonial unit, which provides escorts to the president and helps put on military funerals.

By: Brant

DoD Implements New Command Program for Hurricane Irene Response

The DoD has implements a new program of Dual-Status Commanders for Hurricane Irene relief.

The Department of Defense announced today the appointment of four dual-status commanders in support of relief efforts for Hurricane Irene, marking the first time the dual commander concept has been implemented in support of a natural disaster.

While others may be appointed in the coming days, the initial list of dual-status commanders appointed by the state governors and the Department of Defense for Hurricane Irene is as follows:

Brig. Gen. James Trogden III, North Carolina Army National Guard;

Brig. Gen. Carolyn Protzmann, New Hampshire Air National Guard;

Brig. Gen. Michael Swezey, New York Army National Guard; and

Col. Donald Lagor, Rhode Island Air National Guard.

When agreed upon by the Secretary of Defense and the governor of an affected state, dual-status commanders can direct both federal active-duty forces and state National Guard forces in response to domestic incidents. The concept is intended to foster greater cooperation among federal and state assets during a disaster.

The nation’s governors led the creation of this new opportunity for collaboration. Dual-status commanders ensure that state and federal military forces will work effectively together, when states request federal forces through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Through this improved leadership, forces responding to Hurricane Irene will be better able to avoid duplication of effort, and provide the life-saving capabilities that governors request.

The dual-status commander concept was formulated in 2009. In March 2011, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the bipartisan 10-member Council of Governors adopted the “Joint Action Plan for Unity of Effort,” strengthening support to governors when they request military assistance for disaster response.

By: Brant

27 August 2011

Order Of Battle: 3rd SBCT / 2nd ID (and DoD Announces Next Afghan Rotation Unit)

The DoD has announced the next Afghanistan rotational unit in the box.

The Department of Defense announced today a unit to deploy as part of the upcoming rotation of forces operating in Afghanistan. The announcement involves one brigade combat team totaling about 3,200 soldiers. The scheduled deployment date for this unit is December 2011.

Specific unit:

3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Official site of the 3rd Stryker Brigade
The brigade is composed of the following battalions:
1-23 IN
2-3 IN
5-20 IN
1-14 CAV
1-37 FA
296 BSB

By: Brant

26 August 2011

Random Friday Wargaming Special: Two-fer P500 Edition

First off... we're late. Sorry - there's been a lot afoot in real life here.
Second, we're doing something a little bit different and bringing you some p500 preview announcements of expansions to 2 of our favorite games.

Graphic from GMT Games.

GMT has announced a p500 for an expansion to their lite Napoleonic-era game Manoeuvre. Manoeuvre: Distant Lands brings you a few rules tweaks, and adds the Swedes to the European-centric countermix. But then they also throw in China, Japan, and India.
With this expansion, you can now fight the Brits in India, or the French in China, or the Russians with Japan. Or heck, have the US invade Sweden!
Place you p500 order here on GMT's site for Manoeuvre: Distant Lands.
Manoeuvre is a fantastic little grid-and-counter game that plays in about 90 minutes or so and doesn't take a lot of learning to figure out. The situations are more 'generic' than 'historical' but when you're teaching a new wargamer, or only have an afternoon while the baby is napping, it's perfect.
You can find the ConSimWorld discussion board here.
Here's the PDF link to the playtest counters.

Just announced this week, the guys at Lock'n'Load Publishing have moved the World at War storyline across the Atlantic. After the red horde rolled across Europe and into Paris, the war eventually found it's way to US shores, and now you get World at War: America Conquered (place p500 order here). Included are a variety of Central/South American units, irregulars, militias, and Boy Scout Troops! (OK, we made that last one up). The World at War, with its LOF and online expansions, gives you fights in Central Europe, South Africa, Korea, China, and soon, Florida!
There's no BGG link yet, but there's a lively and active ConSimWorld forum for the W@W series here.

Graphic from Lock'n'Load Publishing.  Click to enlarge

Master links/images from Boardgamegeek.com; message boards linked to Consimworld. Other links to the actual game pages...

By: Brant

25 August 2011

Is the US "Exaggerating" the Threat from China?

You'd think the Chinese would love it that the US thinks they're expanding their capabilities.

China's state news agency accused the United States Thursday of "exaggerating" the threat posed by its military, after a report said the Asian nation was expanding its maritime power.
The US defence department said in its annual report to Congress that China was increasingly focused on naval power and had invested in hi-tech weaponry that would extend its reach in the Pacific and beyond.
Xinhua said many people in China found it "weird" that the United States, which spends far more on its military than any other country in the world, should highlight Chinese expenditure.
"The report... exaggerated the threat incurred by China's military development in 2010 to the Asia-Pacific region," Xinhua said in a commentary.
"For many in China, it is weird that the Pentagon, whose expenditures reached nearly $700 billion and accounted for over an appalling 40 percent of the world's total in 2010, routinely points its finger at China."
China's People's Liberation Army -- the largest armed force in the world -- is extremely secretive about its defence programmes, which benefit from a huge and expanding military budget boosted by the nation's runaway economic growth.
Beijing announced earlier this year that military spending would rise to 601.1 billion yuan ($91.7 billion) in 2011 and also said it was developing its first stealth fighter jet.

"accused the United States Thursday of "exaggerating" the threat posed by its military, after a report said the Asian nation was expanding its maritime power"
Uh, excuse me, Mr China? Yeah, that aircraft carrier you just launch? Was that not an expansion of your maritime power?

By: Brant

Save the Infantry! Looking Ahead at Budget Cuts

An impassioned plea that we "Don’t Forget the Infantry" from Jim Lacey at National Review Online

Even as American soldiers and marines remain locked in mortal combat, debates rage over how deeply to cut the military. Cuts ranging from $400 billion to $1 trillion over five to ten years are on the table. As none of these discussions appear grounded in any determination of what our strategic needs might be in an uncertain future, I may be wasting my words in pointing out that this appears to be a particularly bad time to think about reducing our military capabilities. Rather, I wish to rail against the one thing that almost always happens when the country undertakes an ill-thought-out reduction of its military might: the senseless elimination of land forces.
After the Soviet Union’s demise, the U.S. Army’s 18 combat divisions were cut to ten. And before 9/11 Secretary Rumsfeld was proposing to cut that force to eight. Let’s put that in perspective. The combat troops within a division (infantry, artillery, armor) are only a fraction of the division’s total strength; the rest serve in crucial logistics and other support roles. If one took all the “trigger pullers” in the nation’s ten Army and two Marine divisions, there would be barely enough to fill half a college football stadium. This lack of manpower was so detrimental to our war efforts that during the peak of the fighting in Iraq serious consideration was given to adding two more combat divisions to the Army. It never happened. And now that our commitment in Iraq is winding down, the Army is once again bracing itself for the possibility of losing two of its ten divisions.

Now, as much as I like his article and the excellent points it makes, I do have to quibble with one thing: post Cold-War, when we consolidated from 18 combat divisions to 10, one of the changes we made was that every division was given a full complement of 3 line brigades. During the 80s, many of those 18 divisions had 'roundout' brigades from the National Guard. Those relationships were punted after Gulf I and the drawdown when we closed VII Corps. Several of the active duty separate brigades (like the 197th at Ft Benning) were tied into existing divisions to replace their associated National Guard units.
Additionally, no one has ever really answered this question: where were we supposed to put VII Corps if we brought them home? Seriously. You're talking about 2 infantry divisions, 2 artillery brigades, plus an ACR, and MI, MP, AVN, SIG, and ADA brigades. That's a lot of stuff to park somewhere at a time when most bases were pretty strained for capacity and the Russians had just rolled over and called "Uncle!"

By: Brant

UK In Action: Irish Guards in Afghanistan

A soldier from the Irish Guards is seen during a patrol in the Tor Ghai area of Helmand, Afghanistan. The Irish Guards were operating with troops from E Company 2 Parachute Regiment at the time. The operation was launched to push insurgents out of an area know to be a strong hold around Patrol Base (PB) 3.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

New US Army Ground Vehicle Contracts!

Somehow we missed this at the end of last week... eesh! The US Army Announces Ground Combat Vehicle Contracts.

The Army announced today the award of two contracts to BAE Systems Land and Armaments, L.P., Troy, Mich. ($449,964,969), and General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc., Sterling Heights, Mich. ($439,715,950), for the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program technology development phase. These contractors have been selected to develop competitive, affordable and executable designs for a new Army Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) over the next 24 months.

The contract awards follow the Department of Defense’s formal approval of the GCV program to enter the technology development phase. Approval of this first major milestone builds on months of ongoing collaboration between the Army and the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics) to successfully develop, build and field an affordable, effective and suitable IFV.

“The Army enthusiastically welcomes the formal launch of the Ground Combat Vehicle program, which will provide much needed protection and mobility to soldiers in combat,” said Secretary of the Army John McHugh. “Given the economic environment the nation currently faces, the Army recognizes that it is imperative to continually address requirements as we build a versatile, yet affordable, next-generation infantry fighting vehicle.”

The department’s GCV acquisition strategy, which emphasizes affordability and a seven-year schedule, calls for aggressive exploration of GCV IFV capabilities trade-space via continued requirements and affordability analysis during the 24-month technology development phase. As the Army finalizes GCV requirements during this phase of the formal acquisition process, these efforts will enable the Army to realize program schedule and affordability objectives. The Army remains committed to a seven-year schedule as the appropriate amount of time necessary to design, develop, build and test the next-generation infantry fighting vehicle.

To develop a successful program with well-informed decision points at each major milestone, the Army will undertake a three-pronged approach during the first phase of this effort. First, contractors will work collaboratively with the Army to develop competitive, best-value engineering designs to meet critical Army needs. Concurrently, the Army will initiate an update to its GCV IFV analysis of alternatives and conduct separate technical and operational assessment of existing non-developmental vehicles. Results from this assessment, along with contractors design efforts, will inform GCV requirements to support the next program milestone and facilitate a full and open competition for the next phase of the GCV program.

“This is an important milestone in our Army's modernization program. GCV is the first combat vehicle designed from inception for an IED environment. It will provide armor protection and the capability to maneuver cross-country with the nine-man infantry squad." said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey.

The Army’s overall strategy for developing GCV is consistent with efforts to implement acquisition reform and best acquisition practices.

By: Brant

24 August 2011

GameTalk - Charge!

When the cavalry charges, it's an impressive sight. The thundering hooves, the mounted riders towering a full 10 feet above a standing man, and the war cries of the charging riders...

How does one model the true effect of the cavalry charge crashing onto the poor bastards stuck absorbing it? Especially in a game in which morale is not modeled?

Do you have any examples of good models from games you've played (or designed)?

By: Brant

Libyan Leadership Cheerleading from the Rear

Let us translate the good COL's remarks for you: "We will fight to our victory or your death!"

Tuesday's ransacking of Bab al-Aziziya, long the nexus of Gadhafi's power, marked the effective collapse of his 42-year-old regime. But with Gadhafi and his powerful sons still unaccounted for — and gunbattles flaring across the nervous city — the fighters cannot declare victory.
In an address given from an unknown location and broadcast on the Al-Ouroba TV, Gadhafi asked: "Why are you letting them wreak havoc?" The Syria-based satellite station is owned by Iraqi dissident Mishaan Jibouri and has been supporting Gadhafi as well as Syria's embattled leader Bashar Assad.
Sounding subdued and without his usually fiery rhetoric, Gadhafi said he would fight "the aggression with all strength until either victory or death."
The channel earlier quoted the Libyan leader as saying he had left the Bab al-Aziziya compound in a "tactical move" after 64 NATO airstrikes reduced it to rubble.

By: Brant

Someone is Going to Get in *Big* Trouble Over This

Was the NYPD really operating a spy ring outside their jurisdiction? And was the CIA really helping them?!

In New Brunswick, N.J., a building superintendent opened the door to apartment No. 1076 one balmy Tuesday and discovered an alarming scene: terrorist literature strewn about the table and computer and surveillance equipment set up in the next room.
The panicked superintendent dialed 911, sending police and the FBI rushing to the building near Rutgers University on the afternoon of June 2, 2009. What they found in that first-floor apartment, however, was not a terrorist hideout but a command center set up by a secret team of New York Police Department intelligence officers.
From that apartment, about an hour outside the department's jurisdiction, the NYPD had been staging undercover operations and conducting surveillance throughout New Jersey. Neither the FBI nor the local police had any idea.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the NYPD has become one of the country's most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies. A months-long investigation by The Associated Press has revealed that the NYPD operates far outside its borders and targets ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government. And it does so with unprecedented help from the CIA in a partnership that has blurred the bright line between foreign and domestic spying.

By: Brant

US Government Reaction to Earthquake

Seen online, in reaction to DC being threatened by an earthquake...

Now that such a heinous event has occurred on American soil I'm sure we'll end up with a Department of Homeland Stability

h/t Rich & Rob

warning! politics alert... I'm not advocating for one party or the other, but this did make me chuckle:

According to White House sources, seismologists at the US Geological Survey now believe the quake was caused by slippage along a previously unknown flaw in the Earth's crust that will be named Bush's Fault.

h/t MM

By: Brant

23 August 2011

"Covert" Guys on the Ground in Libya?

Who was on the ground helping the rebels in Libya ?

As the battle in Libya appeared at stalemate, it was an open secret that foreign military advisers were working covertly inside the country providing guidance to rebels and giving tactical intelligence to NATO aircraft bombing government forces.
Diplomats say members of the alliance and partners in the Middle East were engaged in an undercover campaign on the ground in Libya. The operation was kept separate from the NATO command structure to avoid compromising its mandate from the United Nations — to protect civilians.
These largely unseen supporters helped to transform the ragtag rebel army into the force that stormed Tripoli.
On Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe acknowledged the presence of the advisers, telling Europe-1 radio that France had contributed "a few instructors" to train rebel fighters.

This couldn't have been a real secret, right?

By: Brant

Sound Off! PGM or Carpet-Bombing

Is air-power more effective...

... using precision-guided munitions? Hit what you want, when you want, and avoid anything else

... carpet-bombing someone? Erase entire city blocks or grid squares and who cares about collateral damage

Sound off below!

By: Brant

22 August 2011

Overzealous "Security" Probably Provides Very Little

The problem with undoing any of the post 9/11 security stupidity is that if the one thing you undid gets exploited 18 years from now because someone else didn't do their job right, it's your ass that goes down in history as the guy who screwed up.

As a staggered nation scrambled after Sept. 11, 2001, to anticipate possible next targets, there was a widespread sanitizing of publicly available information suddenly viewed as tipsheets and road maps for terrorists.
But what also resulted, as shown by an Associated Press review for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, were some befuddling inconsistencies — telling private pilots not to fly over nuclear reactors, for example, and then not allowing them access to plant locations.
It was all based on a fear that seemingly innocuous fragments of information could be paired to hatch an attack. If authorities couldn't be sure what information might help, they concluded it was best to keep as much secret as possible. Or if total secrecy couldn't be justified, at least make the information much harder to obtain.
Security-sensitive information wasn't just the coordinates of the nation's nuclear power plants, or the locations of massive inventories of dangerous chemicals, or detailed maps of potentially explosive natural gas pipelines. Withheld from public view were things that average citizens might need to know: emergency response plans for public buildings in Idaho, building blueprints in Delaware, and drinking water test results in Texas.

By: Brant

Name That Year

I'm pretty sure there are multiple answers.

The summer winner at the box office is a movie about chimps dominating humans in a rise to power. There are riots in the streets in Europe. There is political upheaval at home, with frequent demands for drastic change in Washington, including overtures from zealous political groups assaulting federal power. America is fighting a foreign war. And all across the country, citizens are yearning for strong leadership from both parties to settle things down and bring America its accustomed stability once again.

By: Brant

Roundup of Libya's Busy Weekend

Unless you've been in a coma, or on a camping trip for the weekend, you know that Libya has moved into the endgame of the Ghaddafi regime, and members of his family have been detained.
Al Jazeera has a running Libya Live Blog that's staying on top of the situation, but at a low-level view.
The English-language Tripoli Post has a nice summary of international press content on the Libyan Revolution, among other articles.
MSNBC asks the really important question: Can anyone unite Libya? The real key is looking to see what happens within the next 72 hours. Once the party stops, what happens next? With a power vacuum, does Tripoli look like Baghdad in the week after Saddam fell? Or will some authority emerge to keep Libyan society from slipping over the criminal edge?
Finally, the Washington Post has a good gallery of images from the revolution.

Oh, and this nice quip from Rex Brynen: "Tripoli has been deQaddafinated?"

By: Brant

UK In Action: Dogs Eye View

Pictured is an MOD search dog, trained in detecting explosives, with his handler. The Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) has one of the largest Dog Sections of all British Police Forces. General Purpose (GP) Police Dogs and their handlers are deployed at 23 Dog Sections across the United Kingdom. The GP teams are trained and licensed in accordance with the National Police Dog Assessment Model. Selected teams will undertake further training to enable them to deploy in a tactical firearms support role alongside firearms officers. The Force operates several classifications of specialist search dogs which are deployed to search and indicate the presence of explosives and drugs, as well as firearms. All dog teams within the Force Dog Section undertake regular Refresher Course and Continuation Training which is delivered by accredited instructors.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

21 August 2011

Battle Lab: Sequencing the Fight

Another older reprint from a few years ago.

Sequencing the fight, AKA Backwards Planning

What is Sequencing?

Sequencing is the process of arranging units on the battlefield such that a commander (or gamer) creates favorable matchups for his forces at the critical points on the battlefield. While this sounds simple enough in theory, the truth is that it can be difficult in practice for a variety of reasons.

First, a player has to determine where the decisive point on the battlefield likely will be. In some cases, that decisive point is in the instructions: "Seize the city of Bugtussle from the enemy." In other cases, it requires some predictive analysis to know where the enemy is headed, especially if the mission is kill bad guys.

In some cases, sequencing is easy, especially in games where the player can control what units set up in specific locations. In other cases, it can be difficult, especially if some of the sequencing is designated for the player, such as reinforcements that are mandated to appear on certain turns.

As always, the examples discussed below follow some general US doctrinal principles, but are not bound by US doctrinal terms. Also, although these principles apply to other types of games (naval, air, etc) the examples focus on ground combat, since that's what I know best.

OK, so what?

Hell, if it was easy, everyone would do it.

more after the jump! (click the article header for the full article)

19 August 2011

Rearranging the Organization Boxes Again

Secretary of the Army John McHugh recently announced an effort to restructure the "institutional Army".

During a morning town hall forum with members of the Army’s Senior Executive Service, Secretary of the Army John McHugh today announced creation of the Institutional Army Transformation Commission, a panel charged with finding new ways to make the Army a more “agile, cost-effective organization.”

“We’re not just asking people to change the way they budget,” McHugh said. “We’re asking them to change the way they think.”

Earlier this year, McHugh created a short-term task force to examine the Army’s organizations and business practices to identify both short-term improvements and long-term structural changes within the institutional Army -- the so-called Generating Force. To date, that task force has launched efforts to root out overlap and redundancies in research and development, review temporary organizations and task forces to see if they are still needed, consolidate and streamline the requirements process, reform installations management, optimize Army acquisitions, and make changes in human capital management.

“While I’ve been encouraged by the task force’s early work, the simple fact is that large-scale institutional transformation takes years to mature before agile, cost-effective organizations emerge -- with a culture of continuous improvement incorporated in all activities,” McHugh said. “This commission will implement changes already identified through the short-term task force, assess and identify new opportunities, and continue to function for the next three years. This longer term, more enduring approach is historically and practically necessary and will help make continuous transformation a part of Army culture.”

McHugh explained his focus on restructuring the institutional Army by noting that the Army is loosely divided into two separate organizations -- the operational Army, which are deployed forces, currently in the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq; and the institutional Army, or generating force, which prepares, trains, educates and supports those troops.

“To an outsider, there are no visible differences between these two parts of the Army,” McHugh said. “In one assignment, they might be driving an MRAP (mine resistant ambush protective vehicle) through Afghanistan, and in the next, providing stateside training to other soldiers in how to use the vehicle. In the first, he or she is part of the operational Army; in the second, the institutional Army.”

Since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began, the operational Army -- the sharp tip of the spear -- has experienced dramatic and continuous change, quickly adapting to changes in terrain, mission and the enemy it faces. But the institutional Army looks much the same, structurally, as it has since the early to mid-70s.

By: Brant

Random Friday Wargaming: OPORD

This Friday it's something a bit off the wall... How often is the title of your wargame an abbreviation when you get it, instead of being bestowed on it by the players? Let us introduce you to OPORD from Flaming Monkey Games. Much like the Designing Out Loud project here (that's been woefully neglected for a few months) this game tries to model current warfare with a mix of cards and counters, and includes a game engine that seems almost real-time.

There's no ConSimWorld Forum yet. And unfortunately, their website seems to be dead, so it's hard to tell if they actually closed up shop, or have just run out of steam for the moment.

Master links/images from Boardgamegeek.com; message boards linked to Consimworld. Other links to the actual game pages...

By: Brant

18 August 2011

UK In Action: The New Lynx... Whatever its name

The AgustaWestland AW159 Lynx Wildcat (previously called the Future Lynx) is an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx military helicopter. The AW159 will serve in the battlefield utility, search and rescue and anti-surface warfare roles. The helicopter has been ordered for the British Army and Royal Navy. It is to enter service with the Army in 2014 and with the RN in 2015.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

17 August 2011

GameTalk - Definitions

Define "wargame"


By: Brant

ISAF Placemat AUG 2011

ISAF hasn't released an update since June. However, this time there are 2 maps for you: the Regional Commands, and the PRTs.

By: Brant

16 August 2011

The Money Quote

“When I look at a guy who has to report to drill every month, as a manager and as a hirer, I have to think about that,” he said. “I know he’s gonna be asking for a lot of days off, and that isn’t easy to give. Some guys come back from the war with all sorts of issues, which is understandable, but I have to deal with that. Honestly, I think about it twice before I hire them.”

No one will admit this. They can't. It is as socially acceptable as admitting you like to fart in church to have the pew to yourself. But the truth is that guys in uniform see this every single day. It's just taken Jonathan Raab to write down and tell the story of what everyone's been thinking inside. His story is compelling, and hardly unique. But it's a story that needs to be told - has to be told - again and again and again, until the rest of America 'gets it'.

“Everybody wants to support the troops until they have to share in the hardship and sacrifice,” I said. “Then all of a sudden that bumper sticker or that flag pin doesn’t mean anything anymore.”

By: Brant

Time for Gaddafi to Go?

We're getting closer and closer to the endgame. And for Libya's leader, it's "horse time": fight? or flight?

The battle to control Libya has entered its final phase when Muammar Gaddafi must make a choice: to seek a negotiated exit or to defend his capital to the last bullet.
Rebels with support from NATO warplanes have, over the past 48 hours, taken key towns around Gaddafi's stronghold in Tripoli in a dramatic series of advances which cut the city off from supplies of fuel and food.
Rebel offensives have, in the past, turned into headlong retreats. But if they hold their ground, the end of Gaddafi's 41-year rule will be closer than at any time since the conflict began six months ago.
A U.S. official said that for the first time in the conflict, government forces on Sunday fired a Scud missile -- an act that was pointless from a military point of view but signaled the desperation of pro-Gaddafi forces.
"The Libyan regime may or may not collapse forthwith but it now looks like it will happen sooner or later," said Daniel Korski, a fellow at the European Council for Foreign Relations.
He added: "The manner of its collapse, however, and the method of the rebel takeover will be just as important as the conduct of the war."

By: Brant

Sound Off! Airborne or Air Assault

Which has more relevance on the modern battlefield?

Airborne! HALO, static-line, it doesn't matter - just get me there on a 'chute.

Air Assault! Fly me in and rope me down - but I want to be tethered to something.

By: Brant

Royal Again After Over 40 Years!

Once again, Canada will have a Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force. Sounds a lot better than Maritime Command and Air Command, eh?
A royal name change for Canada's navy and air force will be announced Tuesday, and the army will also be renamed, in a move that taps Canada's military heritage.

The Maritime Command and Air Command will again be known as the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force, while the Land Force Command will be renamed the Canadian Army.

The name changes will be officially announced Tuesday by Defence Minister Peter MacKay, and events marking the transition are scheduled to take place simultaneously across the country.

According to a Canadian Forces document obtained by CBC News on Monday, the move restores the historic names of the three branches of the Forces, and the initiative is being billed as "an important and recognizable part of Canada's military heritage."

"These were the services that fought and emerged victorious from the Second World War and Korea and contributed to the defence of Europe and North America from the early days of the Cold War. These were also the services that paved the way in terms of international peacekeeping missions," says the note, which appears to have been sent to Canadian Forces members.

The branches were renamed in 1968 when they were unified under one central command named the Canadian Armed Forces. That unified command is expected to remain in place when the old names are restored.
By: Shelldrake

Norks to US/South: "Waaah"

If it's Tuesday, the Norks must be complaining about something again.

The US and South Korea have begun a joint military drill to improve combat readiness on the Korean peninsula.

The annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise brings together 530,000 forces in Korea and abroad, using computer programmes to simulate war situations.

North Korea has reacted furiously to the exercises, which run for 10 days.

It called them "an undisguised military threat" and a "wanton challenge to peace" in the official Rodong Sinmum newspaper last week.

I'm curious how the Norks would've characterized their sinking of the Cheonan. Was it "an undisguised military threat" or a "wanton challenge to peace"? What say you?

By: Brant

Saving War Corespondents' Lives

I saw him on Morning Joe today... Sebastian Junger was talking about a new program designed to give combat journalists a 3-day crash course in battlefield first aid to help them help themselves if they get hit on the front lines. Inspired by the case of Tim Hetherington, who was killed in Libya with Chris Hondros, Junger wants to make sure no more journalists die of wounds that go untreated by even minimum first aid.
Regardless of your opinions on journalists covering conflicts, saving lives is pretty much always a good cause, and if I can find a link to the organization Junger is engaging to run this program, I'll share.

By: Brant

15 August 2011

A New Army Vocabulary?

It would be nice if the effort to simplify terms and eliminate TLAs* actually pays off. But let's not get our hopes up too high, eh?

Hollywood might poke fun at the Army’s liberal use of acronyms and abbreviations, perhaps with good reason: There are nearly 1,100 acronyms and approximately 2,000 operational terms in the Field Manual 1-02, the Army and Marine Corps’ manual of operational terms and graphics.

A team of Army terminologists is working to change that.

Carlos Soto, a terminologist with the Fort Leavenworth, Kan.-based Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate Joint Multinational Doctrine Division, said the philosophy of his group is simple: Because soldiers were taught English before joining the Army, why try to teach them a new language?

“There is no reason for the U.S. Army to create a word if the English language suffices,” he said.

One of the chief culprits is the liberal use of acronyms to shorten or simplify military terms. Only they’re not always shorter and far too often they don’t simplify anything. “Acronyms are fun to create, but you sit there during a briefing, and after the 20th acronym [that] you don’t understand, the briefing becomes useless,” said Dave Turek, chief of the Joint and Multinational Doctrine Division Combined Arms Doctrine and co-author of FM 1-02.

* Three-Letter Acronyms

By: Brant

UK In Action: Scots Guards Machinegun

A soldier from the The 1st Batallion The Scots Guards is pictured with a Light Machine Gun (LMG) near the village of Inzgule, Helmand, Afghanistan. Developed from the Minimi Light Machine Gun following experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, the LMG is a belt-fed suppression weapon. It provides the section commander with the capability to impose sustained suppressive fire onto an objective out to 300m and increases the overall firepower available to the section commander. The LMG complements the Light Support Weapon and enhances the effectiveness of all section weapons across the spectrum of Infantry operations.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

13 August 2011

Anniversary: The Berlin Wall

50 years ago today, the East German government (with some 'encouragement' from their Russian 'friends') started erecting the Berlin Wall, and physically dividing Germany along its post-WWII political fault lines.

There's an interesting site called the Berlin Wall Online that tells a great visual story of the evolution of the wall.

What are your recollections of the wall, if any? I was there several different times in the '80s and thinking "damn this thing is ugly."

Oh, and for a wargame tie-in, how about Berlin '85, the S&T classic?
And in 1994, Armor Magazine published an article based on recently-declassified Soviet war plans about "How the Soviets Planned to Take Berlin." You can read it in the PDF download of that issue here.

By: Brant

12 August 2011

Random Friday Wargaming: Guerrilla Checkers

One of the hits of last week's Connections conference was Guerrilla Checkers by Brian Train. He built a handful of 'giveaway' kits and made a nice splash during demo time with handing them out. It also became a hit over the registration table with the CASL staff.

Look folks, it builds off of Checkers. There's nothing fancy about it. And that's the brilliance of it. Simple, elegant design and meaningful decisions - perfect.
Download your own set of rules on his site... for free! (RTF file)

No CSW forum yet... maybe he oughta start one?!

Master links/images from Boardgamegeek.com; message boards linked to Consimworld. Other links to the actual game pages...

By: Brant

Connections AARs

There are some Connections AARs around the web...

Brian Train's is here

Rex Brynen's wrapup is on PaxSims

Matt Kirschenbaum threatened to write one for Battles Magazine that should be in the next issue.
Matt's got another one online that mixes Connections coverage with some deep big-brain thought, too.

Others as I find them.

update: Larry Bond's slides from his talk on Persian Incursion (pdf download here)

By: Brant

11 August 2011

UK In Action: 4 RIFLES in Africa

A soldier rushes through a stream during a training exercise in Kenya. The 4th Battalion The Rifles (4 RIFLES) were in Kenya undergoing intensive training to be the British Army's next Spearhead Lead Element - a rapid response force ready to tackle a world-wide crisis at 24 hours notice. This can range from a major domestic terrorist attack to the evacuation of British nationals overseas. Around 700 personnel left their Wiltshire base and were joined by other units including artillery and engineers for a five week intensive exercise at the British Army Training Unit Kenya, otherwise known as BATUK.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

10 August 2011

China's Aircraft Carrier Make a Go Of It

The Varyag, uh... PLAN-Flagship-to-be is floating its way out to sea.

China launched its first aircraft carrier for a maiden run on Wednesday, a step likely to boost patriotic pride at home and jitters abroad about Beijing's naval ambitions.
The long-awaited debut of the vessel, a refitted former Soviet craft, marked a step forward in China's long-term plan to build a carrier force that can project power into the Asian region, where seas are spanned by busy shipping lanes and thorny territorial disputes.
"Its symbolic significance outweighs its practical significance," said Ni Lexiong, an expert on Chinese maritime policy at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.
"We're already a maritime power, and so we need an appropriate force, whether that's aircraft carriers or battleships, just like the United States or the British empire did," he said in a telephone interview.

By: Brant

Norks Lobbing Rounds Again; Southies Shoot Back!

Unlike the exchange fire last year when, y'know, people died, this time the South Koreans shot back .

North Korea test fired artillery shells into waters near a disputed border on Wednesday, provoking a South Korean volley of warning shots, raising tensions between the rivals as they inch toward disarmament talks.
South Korea issued a verbal warning after three shots landed near their tense maritime border at around 1 p.m., and then in a tit-for-tat, the South returned three artillery rounds toward the same area about an hour later.
The South's response came after the government was heavily criticized for failing to react with force last year when North Korea shelled one of its islands, Yeonpyeong, in the same area.

View Larger Map

By: Brant

GameTalk - The Strategic Corporal

There have been plenty of cases of minute tactical events having profound strategic implications. A recent example would be the 'shooting of the Koran' by 2 US soldiers in Iraq, and the subsequent mass nationwide protests.

If you've got a tactical game, how do you pick out moments that might get magnified into larger strategic issues?
If you're working at the strategic level, how do you capture these fine-detail points that inevitably become larger issues?

By: Brant

Max Boot Boots It

Look, I get it. The SpecOps guys are "cool" right now, but c'mon, let's give the grunts their due instead of sucking up the the "special" guys all the time. From Max Boot at the LA Times:

Or the hype over Saddam Hussein being pulled out of his spider hole by soldiers of the same Joint Special Operations Command that killed bin Laden.

Uh, no. Saddam Hussein was picked up by COL James Hickey's 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. Regular ol' grunts doing their job without having to be 'special'.

By: Brant

09 August 2011

Lock Up Your Women, the Royal Navy is... Oh. Uh, Never Mind...

The Royal Navy has appointed their first female warship commander.

The Royal Navy has appointed a woman to command a frigate for the first time.

Lieutenant Commander Sarah West, 39, will take command of HMS Portland in April 2012. She has previously commanded four minehunters.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said Lt Cdr West would complete a commanding officer designate course before taking up the position.

Women have been able to serve in the Royal Navy since 1994 and now make up just under 10% of the force.

They remain barred from some areas of service, such as the Royal Marine Commandos.

Lt Cdr West's previous naval experience has included serving in the Gulf.

h/t MM

By: Brant

Frontline General Teams up with Homes for Our Troops

This just in from Byron Collins over at Frontline General.

Collins Epic Wargames really likes the Homes for Our Troops cause and we have decided to support it with a portion of every game sale from this day forward. Homes for Our Troops provides homes at no cost for severely-injured American veterans. The organization is rated 4 out of 4 stars by Charity Navigator. Connect with us on Facebook where we also just posted this announcement on our page and the Homes for Our Troops page. Here's our current main website - http://www.frontlinegeneral.com but you can also pick up our games through most FLGSs in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Spain, and online through online retailers.

No idea why BGG had a problem with that in their forums, but we wanted to help spread the word.

By: Brant

Sound Off! Military Academicians, or Militarized Academics?

For professional education, should you...

Send professional soldiers to civilian universities to study alongside other students?

Bring outside academics into military educational institutions?

Stake out your opinion in the comments!

By: Brant

The Charlies Are Announced

This year's CSR Awards for wargaming have been released.
A few highlighted categories that include from friends of GrogNews. Winners in bold.

Best Post-WW2 Era Board Wargame

A Week in Hell: The Battle of Hue (issue #3) (by Laurent Guenette), Battles magazine
Hearts and Minds: Vietnam 1965-1975 (by John Poniske), Worthington Games
Labyrinth: The War on Terror (by Volko Ruhnke), GMT Games
World at War: The Untold Stories (by Mark H Walker), Lock 'n Load Publishing
Yalu (2nd edition) (by John Hill), Compass Games

Best Magazine Game

A Week in Hell (by Laurent Guenette), Battles magazine
Buffalo Wings (issue #29) (by John D. Webster), Against the Odds magazine (ATO)
Fury in the East (by Ginichiro Suzuki), Multi Man Publications, Inc. (MMP)
Race for Berlin: The Final Struggle (issue #4) (by Francois-Xavier Euzet), Battles magazine
Tarleton's Quarter! (issue #28) (by Mike Joslyn), Against the Odds magazine (ATO)

Best Computer Game Graphics

Decisive Campaigns: The Blitzkrieg from Warsaw to Paris
Gary Grigsby’s War in the East: The German-Soviet War 1941-1945 (2by3 Games/ Matrix)
MapMod -alternate graphics packages (new this past year, France '14, Kharkov' '43)
Napoleon Total War (Creative Assembly)
Revolution Under Siege

Best Professional Game Magazine

Against the Odds, Against the Odds magazine (ATO)
Battles Magazine, Battles magazine
C3i magazine, RBM Publications
Strategy & Tactics
World at War, Decision Games

James F. Dunnigan Design Elegance Award

Labyrinth: The War on terror

Rex scooped me this time... but hey, I was on the road all day

By: Brant

08 August 2011

Political Speechifying

I'm at a lunch for military businesses, and SEN Kay Hagan (D-NC) is giving a keynote address. Plenty of political chederleading about debt/fiscal crisis.
The part that's wrankled me, though, is this... Per SEN Hagan, North Carolina has:
- 3d largest military footprint in US
- 1.12% of federal defense spending coming to the state
She wants to change that ratio so that spending is closer in line with thr size of the military presence.
Well, let's see... no shipyards, no aircraft assembly lines, no armored vehicle plants...
You cut off Blackwater.
You've got light infantry/SOF guys who are *supposed* to be gear-lite.
Essentially, you're planning to boost this funding with base reconstruction, which is not significantly different from any other construction. It's just that you get to claim it as "defense spending" when it all comes in.
Finally, why are treating defense spending as a jobs program, instead of putting dollars where they make sense for, y'know, defending the country...?

By: Brant

War Heroes: The "White Mouse"

WWII heroine Nancy Wake was a badass.

Working as a journalist in Europe, she interviewed Adolf Hitler in Vienna in 1933 and then vowed to fight against his persecution of Jews.

After the fall of France in 1940, Mrs Wake became a French Resistance courier and later a saboteur and spy - setting up escape routes and sabotaging German installations, saving hundreds of Allied lives.

She worked for British Special Operations and was parachuted into France in April 1944 before D-Day to deliver weapons to French Resistance fighters.

At one point, she was top of the Gestapo's most wanted list.

"Freedom is the only thing worth living for. While I was doing that work, I used to think it didn't matter if I died, because without freedom there was no point in living," Wake once said of her wartime exploits.

It was only after the liberation of France that she learned her husband, French businessman Henri Fiocca, had been tortured and killed by the Gestapo for refusing to give her up.

"I have only one thing to say: I killed a lot of Germans, and I am only sorry I didn't kill more," she once said.

She was Australia's most decorated servicewoman, and one of the most decorated Allied servicewomen of World War II.

By: Brant

Afghans {Not} Protesting The Right Deaths

Wrapped up in an article about another shoot-down is this little nugget.

On Monday, three hundred angry Afghans took to the streets in central Ghazni province carrying the bodies of two people they claimed had been killed during a raid by ISAF troops.

Brant's 2c? Maybe next time the Afghans fail to protest the deaths of 30+ Americans there trying to help them, we just walk away.

By: Brant

UK In Action: Laser

Pictured are Royal Marines from Fleet Protection Group (Scotland) (FPGRM)conducting boarding training on HMS Monmouth, to aid the Type 23 frigate during Counter Piracy Operations. They are using 5.56mm SA80A2 assault rifles mounted with fixed Laser Light Modules (LLMs) which can be used in different formations including Infra-Red mode used in conjunction with a Night Vision Unit.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

07 August 2011

Military Disdain?

There's been plenty of discussion of how civilian America tunes out much of the military, even if they go out of their way to avoid leanings of post-Vietnam style disdain. However, is there a growing disdain in the military for their civilian counterparts? The Soldier-Citizen-Sapien blog asks some good questions.

There it is, spelled out pretty clearly. [Brant's note: this refers to a pull-quote in the article, not the image below] Marine Corps values are better than civilian sector values. Just like that, stated as a matter of fact and left unchallenged.
This attitude is not only applied to the everyday American, but extends to the civilian leaders of the military as well. General Stanley McChrystal was recently embarrassed in a Rolling Stone profile that documented some of the disdainful remarks by his staff directed against the Vice President, as well as other presidential appointees assigned to Afghanistan to work with McChrystal. An irreverent and openly hostile attitude at times to civilian control of the military was prevalent among McChrystal and his staff. Publication of that article eventually led to McChrystal’s resignation.
In the first chapter of his popular book Lone Survivor, Marcus Luttrell riffs negatively on everything from politicians, to the “liberal media,” to the public in general who insist on imposing “intrusive rules of engagement” and other silly things like the protection of human rights. The public should just let him do his job “killing bad guys”, he says. It goes on for pages!
I am beginning to wonder how long this attitude of broad disdain for civilians can persist within the military before the military will be considered completely out of touch.

What do you guys think? Is the military's attitude toward the civilian population becoming a problem?

By: Brant

Tiller Uncorks New Falklands Game

John Tiller Software has unleashed a new Squad Battles game for the Falkland Islands.

From the store website:
On April 2, 1982, Argentine Marines and Special Forces troops landed near Stanley, the capital of the Falklands and the largest community, and took control of the islands, establishing by force Argentina's historical claim to the islands. However, Great Britain's response was not what Argentina expected and a task force of naval ships and troops set sail on the 8,000 mile voyage to reclaim the Falklands setting the stage for a clash of the old and new worlds in this remote area of the South Atlantic.

Squad Battles Falklands lets you recreate this short, but sharp war between Great Britain and Argentina over what boiled down to little more than national honor. As the British player you can command some of the finest troops in the world, including the SAS, SBS, Paras and Royal Marine Commandos as you try to return British sovereignty to a part of the Commonwealth. Or as the Argentine player, your command includes Army commandos, paratroopers and the conscripts who fought with pride for the love of their country. The wind-swept, barren hills of the Islas Malvinas await you.

By: Brant

Army Chopper Down in Afghanistan, 20+ Navy SEALs lost

While the shootdown happened yesterday, the news has now stabilized with facts about who was involved and the composition of the casualties.

The Naval Special Warfare community was reeling in what one member called “shock and disbelief” Saturday after 22 of its own died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan that also killed eight other U.S. service members, a civilian interpreter and seven Afghan soldiers.

The CH-47 Chinook crash, which occurred during a raid in Wardak province, is believed to be the biggest single loss ever suffered by the NSW community or in the 24-year history of U.S. Special Operations Command.

Of the 22 NSW members killed, 17 were SEALs and five were direct support personnel, according to the source in the NSW community. Two of the SEALs were from a West Coast SEAL unit, but the others were from Gold Squadron of Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DevGru, sometimes known as SEAL Team 6, said the NSW source.

DevGru, based in Dam Neck, Va., is the Navy’s “Tier One” special mission unit that operates as part of task forces formed under the Joint Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C. It is the Navy’s equivalent to the Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Command — Delta, or Delta Force. DevGru has four line squadrons — Blue, Gold, Red and Silver — plus a strategic reconnaissance element known as Black Squadron.

Each squadron is divided into three troops. The crash wiped out an entire troop in Gold Squadron, said the NSW source.

A huge loss for the military. Too many of America's best lost in this.
Interesting insight into the organization of SEALs, too.

The official statement from the Secretary of Defense

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of many outstanding Americans in uniform and of their Afghan counterparts earlier today in Afghanistan. Their courage was exemplary, as was their determination to make this a safer world for their countries and for their fellow citizens. We will stay the course to complete that mission, for which they and all who have served and lost their lives in Afghanistan have made the ultimate sacrifice. They and their families are in my thoughts, in my prayers and in my heart."

By: Brant

06 August 2011

Kill Some Time with Military Quizzes

The military channel has a bunch of quizzes online, some of which include the occasional "gotcha" question.

h/t Bison

By: Brant

Anniversary: Hiroshima

Today is the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, which is alternately considered both controversial and essential to ending the war.

A few years ago, I had the good fortune to hear a talk at the Mershon Center at Ohio State by Dr. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, discussing the impact of the bomb on Japan's decision to surrender. This article was originally written/published at Wargamer.com back in '06.

A Different Theory on the Japanese Surrender


I attend a weekly seminar series at the Mershon Center for Security Studies and Public Policy here at Ohio State University. On some weeks, the seminar coincides with guest speakers. Last week, Dr. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa came to talk, and this is a summary of his narrative. But first, it may be helpful to introduce Dr. Hasegawa by way of his Mershon Center bio:
Tsuyoshi Hasegawa is professor of Modern Russian and Soviet History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His current research interests include the political and social history of the Russian Revolution, focusing on crime and police in Petrograd during the Revolution, March 1917 - March 1918, as well as Soviet military history, collecting materials on V.K. Bliukher. Hasegawa is also studying Russian/Soviet-Japanese relations, especially the Soviet-Japanese War of 1945, Soviet policy toward the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951, and the Soviet-Japanese Normalization Talks, 1955-56. Hasegawa has published widely on the Russian and Soviet history, his most major publications being The Northern Territories Dispute and Russo-Japanese Relations. Vol. 1: Between War and Peace, 1967-1985. Vol.2: Neither War Nor Peace, 1985-1998 (UC Berkeley, 1998), Russia and Japan: An unresolved Dilemma between Distant Neighbors, edited with Jonathan Haslam and Andrew Kuchins (UC Berkeley, 1993), and Roshia kakumeika petorogurado no shiminseikatsu [Everyday Life of Petrograd during the Russian Revolution] (Chuokoronsha, 1989). His most recent publication is titled Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan (Belknap, 2005). Dr. Hasegawa received his PhD from Washington University in 1969.

The Presentation

Following the fall of Germany in May of '45, the Allies turned their attention to the three-year old Pacific War. To avoid continued American causalities and bring World War II to a close, Truman ordered the nuclear bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Conventional American wisdom is that the atomic bomb brought about the fall of Japan, and few American textbooks challenge this idea. However, a Japanese scholar, Dr. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa of UC-Santa Barbara, has published an new book, Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan, that re-examines the end of World War II through a new perspective on international diplomacy, and comes to the conclusion that although the atomic bomb was certainly a very important factor in ending World War II, it was not the most important one. In fact, it might have caused the U.S. to prolong the war longer than necessary.

Dr. Hasegawa's book opens by addressing the inner workings of the Truman administration, a perspective with which Americans are most comfortable. Leading up to the conference in Potsdam, Truman was pulled in several different directions. First, he was fully aware that Soviet entry into the war in the Pacific would ease the burden on the U.S. Tying down Japanese units on mainland China would inhibit their evacuation to assist in the defense of the Japanese homeland. However, Truman was reluctant to encourage Soviet entry into the Pacific theater, wary of the promises made to Stalin by FDR at Yalta, where the Soviets had been promised certain territories, including warm-water ports. These territories would have enlarged the Soviet sphere of influence (and more importantly, introduced Communism) into an ocean thus far dominated by U.S., British, and Dutch interests. Additionally, Truman felt obliged to support FDR's insistence on an unconditional surrender by the Japanese. However, within his own cabinet, there was support for including in the surrender documents a provision to allow the Japanese to maintain a constitutional monarchy, ensuring the continuation of the imperial line. Such language was even included in the original draft of the Potsdam Declaration, but excised before its eventual release. The inclusion of such language was intended to encourage Japanese moderates to push for a surrender before the eventual invasion of Japan.

Shifting gear to Stalin's Moscow, Dr. Hasegawa focuses on an oft-ignored (by American historians) theater of diplomatic shenanigans. The Soviet Union and Japan had a neutrality pact that pre-dated World War II. The pact was due to expire in April of 1946, but would be automatically extended unless one party notified the other of the intent to void the pact. Communication of that intent was required one full year in advance. Stalin notified the Japanese of the intention to void the pact, but it remained in force until April of 1946. This pact had an extraordinary effect on Stalin. Desperate not to be seen as a second Hitler, Stalin was loathe to violate a neutrality pact in the same way that Hitler had when launching Operation Barbarossa. However, if the U.S. were to invite the Soviet Union into the war, then of course Stalin could not abandon his allies. Stalin expected to receive such an invitation at Potsdam.
In Japan, the government was fractured into parties on either side of the war-peace divide. Those supporting a continuation of the war were determined to defend the Japanese homeland to the last man, in the hopes of bleeding the will to fight out of the Americans and their allies and eventually gain favorable terms for their eventual surrender. The peace party thought that national suicide was a bad idea, and that continuing the fight would only further anger the allies and reduce the likelihood that the imperial system would survive.

Under instructions from the Emperor, Japanese diplomats in Moscow approached the Soviet regime to begin discussing potential terms for a surrender. This contact was opened shortly before Potsdam. The Japanese understood the American demand for an "unconditional surrender" as the end of their imperial system; the goal was to work through Stalin to try preserve the emperor after the surrender.

The Americans intercepted these instructions and were well aware of the ongoing diplomacy in Moscow, but did not overtly tip their hand to the Soviets. Furthermore, it remains unknown if Stalin knew that Truman knew of the negotiations.

At Potsdam, Stalin was expecting to receive an invitation to sign the declaration insisting on Japanese capitulation. Once invited, Stalin would have the pretext for over-riding the neutrality pact with the Japanese. However, no invitation was forthcoming. Once the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Truman was well aware that the Allies did not need the Soviets to enter the war in the Pacific. Truman, in fact, seemed determined to keep Stalin out of the war. Moreover, there are interesting details from behind the scenes at (and before) Potsdam that Dr. Hasegawa has interpreted as having much greater significance than previously recognized.
First, it was known before Potsdam that Japanese hesitation over surrender was motivated primarily by the desire to retain the imperial system. Were the Allies to ensure the continuation of the monarchy, Japan might have agreed to terms on a surrender sooner. In spite of this knowledge, Truman insisted on including the term "unconditional surrender" in the Potsdam Declaration, knowing that the Japanese would reject it. Coupled with military communications indicating the preparations for dropping the A-bomb on Japan had begun before Truman departed for Potsdam, Hasegawa believes it is not unreasonable to conclude that Truman intended for, and expected, the rejection of the Potsdam Declaration, to justify the use of the atomic bomb.

Stalin, having been snubbed at Potsdam (but unaware of U.S. progress in deploying the A-bomb), ordered his military to speed up their preparations for entering the Pacific theater, starting with an invasion of Manchuria. The military resisted this pressure, given the massive amounts of men and material they had to move. However, on the 6th of August, they could no longer afford to wait.

Stalin's appointment log shows a full day of meetings on the 6th of August. Following the news that Hiroshima had been leveled, Stalin withdrew into seclusion. His appointment log for the 7th shows not a single meeting. On the 8th, however, he sprung back into action, and Soviet invasion of Manchuria began on the 9th, three days ahead of schedule (and the same day as the Nagasaki bomb). Stalin's eagerness to enter the Pacific theater led the Soviets to break their neutrality pact with Japan, and couch it in terms that left the public believing that the Soviets were invited to join the war. That evening (Moscow time), the American press conference in Washington congratulated the Soviets on entering the war. However, the American (and British) statements were intentionally mute about the "invitation" claimed by the Soviets. Sixty years later, we rarely see this distinction, given that the Allies (U.S., U.S.S.R., U.K.) had made numerous public statements about first defeating Germany and then turning on Japan. Today's school children see the Soviet entry into the Pacific war as a natural extension of World War II. Today's school children are also rarely taught about the Japanese-Soviet neutrality pact or the territorial implications of Soviet entry into the war in the Pacific.

Dr. Hasegawa's conclusion, therefore, is that the threat of Soviet entry into the Pacific theater spurred the Japanese to hasten their surrender more than the atomic bomb did. Japanese fear of territorial loss to the Soviets, and preference for dealing with Truman over Stalin, led to peaceniks in the Japanese government gaining the upper hand. Truman felt obliged to maintain FDR’s staunch position on “unconditional surrender” and expected the A-bomb to force the Japanese to surrender before the Soviets were prepared to enter the war in the Pacific. Therefore, he crafted the Potsdam Declaration such that the Japanese would reject it. The haste with which the Japanese government acted following the Nagasaki bomb was motivated by the Soviet entry into the war - coincidentally on the same day - more than the destruction of another one of their cities.

Asking Questions Today

While this was written 5 years ago, very few of the key issues brought up by Dr Hasegawa have changed since then. What are your opinions on why the Japanese surrendered? Was the atomic bomb the key factor? Or were to Soviets a bigger issue than previously thought? Your commente below...

By: Brant

US Army Shifts to 9-Month Deployments

Finally fixing a problem we've been yelling about for a while, the Army finally announced they're shifting to nine-month deployments.

The Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced today a change in the length of future unit operational deployments from 12 months to nine months. This change will be fully implemented by April 2012, and applies to division-level-and-below units. This policy will not affect personnel or units currently deployed or deploying prior to Jan. 1, 2012. The deployment period for high demand and low density units and individual deployers will remain one year.

The reduced deployment length will improve soldier and family quality of life while continuing to meet operational requirements and is an important step in sustaining the all-volunteer-force. This policy change is consistent with secretary of defense policies for utilization of the total force. Implementation of this change is based on the projected demand for Army forces, and is contingent on global security conditions and combatant commander requirements.

By: Brant

05 August 2011

Another Undeclared War

[Link in the headline.]

Link is now here... Brant

McAfee, one of the leading IT security companies, has uncovered a five year-long hacking campaign against Western companies and international organizations including the UN conducted by a "foreign government" (almost certainly China). I can only conclude that our sick financial co-dependency with China, in which they loan us back our own money to buy more of their junk, has us so cowed that we are reluctant to offend the Chinese government by calling them out on these shenanigans.

Yes, this has become a rant. In my opinion, our relationship with China is the tip of an iceberg of some very fundamental, structural issues in American society.

By: Guardian

Random Friday Wargaming: Elusive Victory: The Air War over the Suez Canal, 1967-1973

Taking to the skies this week, our random Friday wargame is Elusive Victory: The Air War over the Suez Canal, 1967-1973 from GMT. Designed by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood and Terry Simo, and covering a wide swath of air conflict, Elusive Victory has taken home a Charlie for Best Post-WWII Boardgame.

You can discuss it at the ConsimWorld Forum here.

Order your own over from GMT Games on their website.

Master links/images from Boardgamegeek.com; message boards linked to Consimworld. Other links to the actual game pages...

By: Brant

04 August 2011

Rust Fix Affects Canadian Submarine's Dive Depth

The previously owned Victoria-class submarines purchased from Britain some years ago continue to cause headaches for the Canadian Navy.
One of the Canadian navy's four Victoria-class submarines will be restricted in its ability to dive deep beneath the seas because of rust, according to a document obtained by The Canadian Press.

A Feb. 9, 2010, briefing note prepared by Lt.-Cmdr. Helga Budden recommends repairing seven areas of general rust and three regions of localized pitting rust on HMCS Windsor.

Budden recommends the repair be carried out through a "protect and monitor" option which calls for grinding away and priming the corroded areas, with regular checks of those areas to be conducted once the submarine is operational.

But her note says that option would result in a new depth limitation for the submarine.

"Materiel safety of the submarine would be maintained through a depth limitation caveat on the Windsor's submarine safety document register," says the note, obtained under federal access-to-information legislation.

The note was based on research done by defence research scientists in Halifax.
By: Shelldrake

Connections, Day 4, Working Group Outbriefs

Working Group outbriefs

First group outbrief on Expanding the Applications of Wargaming didn't spend any of their time talking about how wargame tools can actually be applied in other places, but spent their briefing talking about how to reach out to new audiences. The part where I got up and walked out to "stretch my back" was when the speaker devolved into an infomercial for one particular company, repeating over and over again how great that one company does their job, and how they do such great things for people, and how they're the recognized leaders in the field, and how this NDU faculty member who is supposed to be presenting an impartial working group is going to completely ignore anything else any other company has done as a success story. It did *not* reflect well on the working group that they seemed to be so into the tank for that contractor.

The Toward a Better Adjudication was more entertaining, but I didn't have the computer out to catch more of it.
The group split into 2 sub-groups. The first was discussing wargaming PMESII problems, and how social science models can inform them. He also noted the that if you take the "M" out of DIME, you get to "DIE".
Second discussion was how to fight futures wargames. Some of the key takeaways I grabbed were that (a) the enemy is watching your technology developments, just like you are, so these things should surprise you, and (b) try to look for and focus on the large *negative* possible outcomes that could be potentially catastrophic, rather than trying to get to the "best" answer.

The working group I was a part of - Building a Wargame Profession - should be entertaining... I'm curious to see how much of the presentation is actually reflective of the discussions that went on, or if they're reflective of the canned presentations that were thrown at us before the discussions.
Aaaaaand the roster goes up, with *BOTH* of my names spelled wrong. Geez folks... My name, and company (which was wrong on an earlier slide) were both on my registration. It can't be that hard to get it right.
There's an "objectives" slide on-screen right now that we never saw yesterday. I guess it would've been nice to know what our objectives were in the working group yesterday. So now we're running through the "sub"-presentations - each condensed to a single slide. Methinks there's a restroom break coming up in a bit (too much water at breakfast). Besides, there's been enough that didn't seem accurate enough for me that I had to walk away for a second.
This has now devolved into "here's why we can't/shouldn't/won't do this". News flash to folks: the plan is already in the can. It can be done. It will be done. It will probably be done before the working group gets re-convened.

By: Brant

UK In Action: Harrier Over Cyprus

LA(Phot) Luis Holden won the Navy News Award in the 2011 Peregrine Trophy Photographic Competition with this image. A Joint Force Harrier jet is pictured high over RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus shortly before the iconic aircraft was decommissioned.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

03 August 2011

Connections, Day 3, Working Group Session

1330 - 1630 Working Groups: Building a Wargame Profession, Co-chairs: Mike Garrambone & Erik Kjonnerod
Speakers: Mr. Mike Garrambone, Professional Society Concepts; Mr. Bret Givens, Professional Societies; Dr. Yuna H. Wong, Social Sciences of Societies; Col John Lister, Professional Gaming at Quantico; Ms. Renee Carlucci, MORS COP*--Wargaming; Ms. Elizabeth Bartels, Inculcating the New Wargamer

Starting with Michael Garrambone:
Practical analytical uses for games:
- gaining insights
- Sources of questions
- practice decisionmaking
- organize technical facts
- explore feasibility and implications of plans, concepts, or new technologies
- communicating ideas in vivid & memorable ways

Professional society: a org whose members share a professional status with the same occupation
Professional: a person whose occupation requires extensive education and skill, high degree of specialized training and competence
Professional Orgs: help to organize the group

What does a professional society or organization look like and how would it be organized?

Switch to Bret Givens to talk about types of certifications or other assessments of knowledge.
ANSI standards for professional certifying organizations.

We're starting to devolve into a bit of a discussion about what are wargames, what are games, what's in and what's out, and how do you draw the lines.

more after the jump

Terminal Lance on DADT

check out more at Terminal Lance

By: Brant

Connections 2011, Day 3, Other Morning Panel

1010 - 1130 Toward More Comprehensive Wargame Adjudication Panel, Co-chairs: Jon Compton & Al Nofi
Speakers: Dr. Stephen Downes-Martin, Adjudication, the diabolus exmachina of wargaming; Rich Phares, The Why and How of Adjudication; Mike Markowitz, Wargaming the Future & the Future of Wargaming

as always, my comments in red

Dr. Stephen Downes-Martin talking about adjudication
Using it to solve useful conflict in a game between participants
NOT BOGSAT - it's not a wargame without a game, which implies the ability to figure out who won

Using the dice as a model to tell us what happened. Sorry Navy, there's a non-zero chance that the aircraft carrier would've sunk, and it just did. So now what?

How to build adjudication models looking into the future when no statistical model exists?
How to build adjudication models for things for which no statistical or historical model exists?
Posted the (in)famous spaghetti-bowl slide of the AfPak COIN and noted that this is the model through which the COIN needs to be adjudicated.
---- I think I was going a bit to fast to capture Dr Downes-Martin's true nuance here... please see his comments below

Deductive gaming* is useless - no statistical model. This is all inductive gaming.
---- ditto :)
If the adjudicators are trying to sort out the rules of the game as they work through it, why aren't they playing the game themselves first?
Multiple 'fraud factors' in wargames. Personal experience not always generalizable...
Design the game to include adjudicators as players and evaluate their inputs/outputs.
Design a belief-based system that includes player beliefs about self and adversary.

* later edit: Dr Downes-Martin was speaking of this particular context - PMESII and similar social science contexts

more after the jump