Improving Operational Wargaming: Its All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses a War
Technical Report,05 Jul 2015,26 May 2016
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS FORT LEAVENWORTH United States
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In 2015, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work committed the Department of Defense DOD to overhaul its approach to wargaming in order to reinvigorate innovation across the DOD, including a five-year target to use wargames to improve operational planning. This monograph explores the causes of wargaming failures and proposes recommendations for successful wargames. Does doctrine provide sufficient guidance, striking the appropriate balance between prescriptive and descriptive guidance This monograph postulates that wargaming theory including game element analysis and wargame pathologies provides an excellent rubric for creating and evaluating wargames and wargaming doctrine, that doctrine and practice diverge from wargame theory, and that current doctrine does not provide sufficient guidance. The theory history doctrine approach of this monograph is intended for military planners, doctrine authors, and wargaming professionals. Wargames are a useful tool to assess plans as directed in operational planning processes however, commanders and staffs should neither equate wargame victory with wargame success, nor consider either as validation of a given plan. There are ten elements of wargame design objectives, scenario, database, models, rules and procedures, infrastructure, participants, analysis, culture and environment, and audiences. These elements provide a framework for creating wargames, and analyzing wargames and their failure modes known as pathologies. By evaluating Japans Midway campaign plan through the theories of game element analysis and wargame pathologies, this monograph creates greater understanding of those theories and provides recommendations for doctrine. Pathologies exhibited by Japanese planners include those related to wargame objectives, scenario, database, model, participants, and culture genuine testing of the Operation MI plan appears to have been impossible.