24 July 2012

Connections - Day 2, morning sessions

The Connections Interdisciplinary Wargaming Conference

Dr Kjonnerod kicking off the real sessions with a discussion of how the wargaming community needs to pull together more and meet their counterparts and find solutions that other people are already having success with.

Uh, we tried that after last Connections, and were met with stunning indifference on the part of most of the professional wargaming community.

Matt Caffrey loves to talk about the importance of wargaming, and loves to address lessons of pre-WWII wargaming at the Naval War College and how lessons learned in those events informed their decisions, especially in the Pacific. When I get Matt's links to those articles / stories / books, I'll link or post them.

Dean Robert Rubel (NWC) is talking about current status of wargaming at the Naval War College. He notes that the topics that their constituents are interested in are among the toughest to wargame, and are going in new and different directions.
"Fast and objective" are still key requirements for wargaming. Can we use computers as an impartial umpire? If so, how do we impartially adjudicate non-kinetic factors?
Participants are a key component of wargames, and where senior staff/flag officers would show up for weeks at a time for the exercise, these days they only show up for a few days, max. "Fast" now means that useful game feedback comes quickly enough to be meaningful to the participants, not just that the computer calculates it quickly.
Networking players is not enough - need a way to make the interactions more meaningful.
No such thing as machine objectivity, since all machines are programmed by people. Can run tactical-level games that address kinetic actions, but at the operational/strategic levels need to bring in non-kinetic factors.
Three ways to bring in other factors into a wargame: portray it, represent it, or talk about it.
Talk about it = bring in SME's to address the exercise on how their domain will impact what's going on.
Represent it = some form of rules-based mechanism to account for the effects.
Portray it = played as a full partner.
Systematic vs Heroic vs Disruptive Warfare: disruptive warfare is based around "outlasting" the other guy (insurgency, commerce raiders, etc). A great example of "disruptive warfare" is Washington in the AWI.

Dr Philip Sabin is being web-conferenced in through a video link, and it sounds like he's in an echo chamber on his end.
First slide of Sabin's talk is
Dunnigan was WRONG
Rubel was WRONG
Perla was WRONG
Sabin was WRONG

As 2 of those guys are in the audience (and one of them was just speaking), it got a chuckle.
Dunnigan was wrong in that manual wargaming has not died out, and in fact, the numbers of titles are expanding. Among the reasons it's not died out include the lack of technological obsolescence (can still play board games from 40+ years ago, but can't play computer games from 10 years ago), and budgetary issues. Sabin's key reason that board wargaming is still popular is the accessibility and transparency of the designs.

Rubel was wrong because he was advocating a professionalization of the wargaming community in an attempt to weed out the poor designs. Sabin's argument is not to narrow the wargaming field, but to widen it as much as possible so that you have more educated consumers who can recognize poor design, as well as customers who may be capable of creating their own game rather than have to bring in someone. As an example, he shows some of the works of his students who have created games within the parameters of his master's program at King's College and had students turn out some great work, despite never having played a wargame.

Perla was wrong in that trying to account for the "black swans" ignores the variability in war that's not caused by them. (Here we go again...) Is every bit of variability in war due to "black swans" or are there other ranges that can inject necessary variability, but still with a reasonable likelihood of outcome?

Sabin war wrong: "Lost Battles" was intended to be a form of scholarship as well as recreational game. However, for ancient warfare, the volume of scholarship generated by the academic world far outweighs the amount of evidence available to scholars. Wargames force players to make decisions in the eyes of the participants.

Sabin admits he's being deliberately contrarian to make some points.
- Manual wargames are increasingly vibrant and useful even in a digital age
- Wargame design is more art than science and needs to be more accessible
- Chance is essential to wargames, but the unexpected cannot dominate
- Wargames are only taken seriously by those who actually play them (if then...)

Dr William Lademan, MCWL
"Wargaming as a Substrate for Innovation"
Without a good definition of what a wargame is, we're all partitioners, if not professionals.
Without those definitions, there's no lexicon that can unify the discussion of terminology such that we're all speaking the same language.
As a substrate, wargaming is required for innovation.
Wargaming is a great vehicle for innovation to influence and drive strategic changes. Better to have 2 cardboard carriers sunk and learn the lessons rather than learn them with real people.
Comment of MCWL as the "headlights" of the Marine Corps to look forward.
Title X wargaming - fundamental responsibilities enshrined within the the US Code that created DoD' includes the execution of annual wargames to address future capabilities in context of Title X responsibilities
Wargame definition: an artificial vehicle made up of a field of variables that replicates conflict and allows the human intellect to consider a real problem.
-- Variable - a function that may assume difference values in time and space. Too few variables and it's just tic-tac-toe; too many variables and it's too unwieldy.

Start off with objectives of the wargames
Develop an estimate of the situation: Force, Domains, Threat, Risk
Strategy / Theory of Action to help shape the enemy through Freedom of action (maximize yours, eliminate his); Cohesive user of power; Misdirection --> allows operational decision-making
(Discussion of how to wargame Joint Operational Access Concept, using a model that incorporates a series of "bands" of enemy activities as you approach the area where you want to access.)
Wargaming process:
-- Preparation (organization of variables)
-- Execution (entanglement) - not there to control, but to facilitate
-- Assessment (coherence)

(Q&A, but I'm not going to try to capture it)

By: Brant

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