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War-Gaming Network-Centric Warfare

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Journal article

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The familiar techniques of war gaming will be insufficient for scenarios involving network-centric warfare. NCW, as it is known--with its focus on speed, downstream effects, and information flow--will require of gamers more than simply additional computational power or communications bandwidth, although these will certainly be needed. Gamers will need a new framework in which to apply these tools. In 1886, Lieutenant William McCarty Little introduced war gaming to the Naval War College. The concept found immediate acceptance faculty and students recognized that the war game was well suited to analyzing the characteristics of naval warfare of the time. Gaming has since been applied to all manner of warfare, in a variety of ways. As warfare has become more sophisticated, multidimensional, and joint, the challenges of gaming it have increased. Even the application of computer technology has not been effective for all purposes, especially in games that involve large forces. We are now facing, in network-centric warfare, a new form of conflict that will challenge gamers even more severely. In this article we will attempt to develop a framework to help us identify techniques necessary for gaming network-centric warfare. A characteristic of warfare that has made it amenable in the past to simulation through gaming is its inherently structured nature. Troops operate in formations so do ships and aircraft. Groupings of units or formations generally operate according to doctrine, in some specified relationship to one another. As a result, war-game designers have been able to govern and model the movements of forces and to project the results of combat with the enemy by relatively simple rules.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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