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Thread: Fighting the Next War

  1. #1
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Fighting the Next War

    26 March LA Times commentary - Fighting the Next War by Gary Anderson.

    It all started four years ago with a quote from Lt. Gen. William Wallace, then the Army's ground commander in Iraq. "The enemy we're fighting is a bit different than the one we war-gamed against because of these paramilitary forces," he said about a week into the 2003 invasion. "We knew they were here, but we did not know how they would fight."

    Strategic war games used to be simple. Soldiers, defense consultants and others divvied up into Blue (allied) and Red (enemy) teams and then faced off in a series of moves roughly resembling chess. The point wasn't to predict the outcomes of future battles though that sometimes happened but to sort out how policies, tactics and weapons might perform in combat. A roll of the dice set a team's odds. Complicated mathematical formulas determined the outcome. And that worked pretty well up through the Cold War.

    Today, dice seldom get rolled. In the wake of 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq, war games have had to evolve to remain relevant. Instead of a monolithic enemy, there are often several Red teams, fighting against each other as well as the Blue team. This complicates things for Red team players like me, but frankly, it's a fascinating way to make a living.

    It's not just the Red teams that are changing; so is the definition of victory.

    The outcome of many games is determined by a new addition, the Green team. Green represents the civilian population, the media and the international community once bystanders, now the ultimate arbitrators. If Red or Blue kills civilians in a manner considered unnecessary in the process of winning a battle, for instance, it may lose Green team support, thus losing the war or at least the campaign...
    Gary Anderson (Colonel USMC ret.) was the Marine Corps' first director of the Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities and the director of war-gaming. He designed the first of the type of games described in this art.

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    Council Member Dr Jack's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fighting the Next War

    Instead of a monolithic enemy, there are often several Red teams, fighting against each other as well as the Blue team. This complicates things for Red team players like me, but frankly, it's a fascinating way to make a living.

    It's not just the Red teams that are changing; so is the definition of victory.

    The outcome of many games is determined by a new addition, the Green team. Green represents the civilian population, the media and the international community once bystanders, now the ultimate arbitrators.


    We use a similar process for wargaming in my classroom -- rather than just wargaming with a "Red" and "Blue" side going through the process of action - reaction - counteraction, we frequently use multiple "Red Cells" (representing various adversary groups which may or may not act together), multiple "Blue Cells" (representing various coalition partners which may have different objectives or end states), multiple "Green Cells" (representing local government, NGOs/PVOs, media, and other actors), and a "White Cell" for arbitration. This process makes the wargame enormously complex and tedious, but the results are also closer to reality.

    At the end of each wargame move, we also analyze each of the logical lines of operation for second and third order effects of the actions - reactions - counteractions of each of the players... This helps to identify potential branches to the plan that may need further planning or synchronization.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    This is why I think Baghdad is like Shanghai. The 2 major players were the Communist and the Nationalist. Below that were the Green Gang led by Mr. Big Ears (yes that was his name and that was the name of the gang) and the Red Gang fighting for the Opium trade. Below that the regular criminal element. All taking place with the threat of war with Japan in the background.

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