18 January 2012

Strategic Gaming Roundtable, NDU 1/18

Stay tuned for the liveblog of today's NDU strategic wargaming roundtable.

Looks like we're starting now, after some tech connection issues.
Covering some admin bits:
- next roundtable will be Monday 19 March.
- Connections in late July

First presentation will be Bill Simpson from MCWL: Multi-Sided Gaming or Getting a Handle on Chaos

It grew out of a project on MAGTF Strategic Communication.
Game purpose: "to understand and apply the USMC Strategic Communication Concept across the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war."

How to coordinate non/kinetic actions along the same message through the staff processes?
"How do you properly replicate the myriad interactions, assess the impacts, and adjudicate the outcomes?"
Had to be very simple b/c while there was time to train adjudicators/staff, there was not time to train the players.
Built off of Marine Corps Planning Process CoA wargaming paradigm.
Worked at multiple MAGTF levels: MEU, MEB, MEF

Process flow was a 17-step slide, and I'm not going to try to capture it all here. If I can snag it later, I will.

One of the first adjudications was situational awareness, and they let the players sort out (using their professional military judgment) who knew what at any given point in time. If the players couldn't agree, then the umpires stepped in to adjudicate. Kept the process flowing...

Follow the jump for the "more" - trying to get the length of this post on the main page under control

Situation brief included blue and red briefing the "locals": mayor, merchant, imam (not an adversary), media, general public.
First, red & blue brief COA briefs - entire plan in front of entire audience.
Then, red & blue reach their agreement on what each other can see of the other - all the non-kinetic details.
Next, blue & red action statements, followed by the "locals" stating their situational awareness and actions, with some specific details for the media.
Next, blue reactions.
Then, red reactions to locals... and red was frequently upset that the locals were reacting the way he wanted them to.
Local reactions went next, and included media attitudes, as well as other considerations.
Blue counteractions were programmed, but frequently glossed over b/c they were accounted for elsewhere.
Finally, the umpire summarizes the new situation and move the game forward to the next major interaction.

Some potential changes:
Allow multiple counter-actions instead of just blue.
First action taken by side who had the initiative in the actions, rather than a fixed rotation.
First counteraction also by side with initiative.

This wraps up the first brief. Q&A follows.

(as a side note - this roundtable is being 'broadcast' to some remote sites. The ambient mike looks a lot like the probe that the Empire used to interrogate Princess Leia on the Death Star)

First Q: Did red develop their own objectives?
A: No, red objectives were scripted by the wargame staff, but their plan and execution was up to them.

Q: What were experience levels of players in the game?
A: Junior officers and senior enlisted, with some gov civs and contractors. Most w/ experience in info ops, PR, cyberwar, etc.

Q: Simultaneous adjudication?
A: Although the participants briefed sequentially, the adjudication was simultaneous after the briefings were complete.

Quick break to fix audio...
(a note about the audio - apparently it's Brian out in Victoria that's screwing up the audio!)
edit: we found out, it was NOT Brian that was screwing up the outbound audio; he just couldn't hear all the heaping helpings of praise being piled on him by Ottenberg

Second presentation is on operational level irregular warfare, with Mike Ottenberg from OSD/CAPE
Talking about the approach: process, theory, and application

Basing the theory on Bard O'Neill's work on Insurgency and Terrorism
Looks at insurgency through its underlying political framework

Discussing the use of a system called "Algernon"
Derived from Brian Train's Algeria: The War for Independence 1954-1962

Need to look at insurgent strategic goals and purposes.
Some goal categories:
- anarchy
- egalitarian
- traditionalist
- pluralist
- secessionist
- reformist
- preservationist

What is the defeat mechanism the insurgents use to attain their goals? How do you incorporate that into the game?
- conspiracy (Lenin)
- protracted popular war (Mao)
- military focus (Che)
- urban (terror) strategy (went by too fast)

What sorts of external support can you provide? With different patrons, goals, support levels & mechanisms, etc?

Algernon uses resource costs and administrative points. Missions that units can execute and the costs for those missions.
Building the ORBAT on the military is reasonably easy, but what about NGOs, media, gov't, police, etc? What sorts of capabilities and attributes can/do they have and how to quantify them? What sorts of "missions" do you give these folks?

Briefing the "Ginger Junction" scenario - fictional island chain with geo regions as "areas".
There's waaaaaay too much detail for me to keep up with here. I don't know if I'll get my hands on this again later or not, so just suffice it to say it's the "game world."

Modular rules base that includes adjudication for
Terrain effects
Political Support Effects
Combat Results
Information Operations
Civilian Actions
and more that went by too fast to capture them all

Talking about determining techniques for building popular support (charismatic, legitimacy, etc)
Within Algernon, what actions have impacts on popular support to red, blue, green?
--- again, based on Brian's work - that guy is everywhere!

Basic game design stuff: prototypes, play testing, boundary testing, etc.

Got that infamous Afghanistan slide on irregular warfare up on the screen right now.

At least slightly dismayed that his list of other available games includes
Ici C'est la France
Operational Wrap-Around
Karsten Englemann's Colombia (tho misspelled on the slide as "Columbia" - invading South Carolina!)

but managed to not include GEMSTONE despite its recent star turn in the cover story at Training and Simulation Journal.

Q&A is firing a little too quick right now... Though the one that got the chuckle was "the question that keeps game designers up late at night" - "Was your sponsor happy?"

There's now a more general Q&A / discussion going on now, and I'm signing off to go pay attention to it.

OK - I'm back just to throw out this bit: there was a throw-down about modeling and simulation vs gaming for exploring wicked hard problems. How do you explore the uncertainty space?

This is going to feed into our irregular-running series on games and sims that's going to continue to expand through GN. Watch the blog for more...

By: Brant

1 comment:

Brian Train said...

Despite the fearsome appearance of the Probe, it didn't do its job all that well and I ended up hearing very little of the presentations clearly. That some of it was praise for my work, and that I missed it, stings the more deeply (snicker).

I could hear the Q&A later a bit better, at least for a while, and rather expected the "M&S vs. gaming" question to come up. It usually does, after presentations like this. My short answer for your question about how to explore the uncertainty space is to assert that both M&S and games do explore these uncertainty spaces, just in different ways. In a model you have control over all variables, at least ideally, and like any good scientific experiment you try to change one variable at a time and see what happens. In a game you often have exponentially more of everything, and everything changes and is changed continually.

But both approaches will settle out into some kind of end state eventually I think, and that state occupies a spot somewhere in the uncertainty space. Multiple trials of the model, and multiple plays of the game, will give you a sort of distribution pattern - maybe.

And the nature of the problem will generate the uncertainty space you are exploring. Many things don't lend themselves to quantification at all, but that shouldn't make up stop our brains from exploring their juxtapositions.

Brant, you saw and commented on Rex Brynen's blog entry about video games and their limitations


and I liked Skip Cole's comment about how we're reluctant to game because it seems like a trivial exercise.