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Thread: Wargaming Small Wars (merged thread)

  1. #161
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Port View Post
    Because we cannot seem to cross lines, we are missing a crucial aspect which hasn't been discussed here at all - the impact of the global community on COIN, and how we "game" this into the Sim. What impact does the Asian World Bank play? Department of State? If you are the military sim developer, you might forget to include these in the day-to-day operation of the Squad Leader, until they build a factory where you wanted to build a soccer field. Or until the DoS rep mis-speaks and tells the tribal leader that the guys daughter looks like a hairless goat.
    While harder to do in an AI-based electronic sim, this is relatively easy to do as part of a human-moderated RPG. One can imagine a scenario, for example, in which you're a company commander tasked with an AOR that includes several potential development and reconstruction project. In addition to maintaining security in your corner of Swjitsan, you and the local PRT (or whoever) need to:

    1) Work out local aid priorities
    • Who do you ask? There is a local village council, but it is dominated by members of certain clans/families, and steers you towards projects that favour their group.
    • Certain subaltern groups (women, for example) also aren't represented in local government, yet have a better idea of day-to-day needs (health, education, water, waste disposal).
    • The Swjistani central government has other ideas on priorities, some sensible others motivated by politics of rent-seeking opportunities.
    • Aid agencies and NGOs have other ideas, based on what it is the usually do, or based on their own needs assessment data. Moreover, some of the available money is locked into particular budget envelopes, and all of it has different time-frames, bidding, and reporting requirements.
    • Non-USG agencies have a significant portion of the potential cash.


    2) Who executes? Many of the local contractors and corrupt, and many are linked to particular clans and political factions.

    3) Rebuilding the school seems one of the clearer priorities, but there are problems.
    • The old principal has local support, but was associated with the old authoritarian regime. He is also brother of the police chief.
    • Principal appointed by central government is skilled and qualified, but belongs to other ethnic/religious group.
    • Local conservatives rail against coeducation... yet it is far more cost effective than rebuilding two separate schools. Curriculum proves politically divisive.
    • The central government wishes to use the school to service children in outlying villages, but there is local opposition to bringing in kids from other ethnic/religious groups. Some outlying villages in someone else's AOR.


    4) Reconstruction projects become priority targets for insurgents, both politically and military. You could easily integrate some electronic SIMs at this point, having participants convey aid personnel, guard the new facilities against attacks, etc.

    5) Etc, etc.

  2. #162
    Council Member Beelzebubalicious's Avatar
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    Taking Jason's point about politics, how about taking this out of the political realm (if that is, indeed, possible) and putting it in to nuetral hands or territory? It could involve representatives, those who leave their uniforms at the door, of the major agencies, but not high level bureaucrats, but experienced, field people. I like Rex's idea - focus on the issues and scenarios, not the particular style, methodology, etc. Just what works.

    Would this be possible?

    If so, I can offer a potential nuetral party.
    Last edited by Beelzebubalicious; 09-22-2008 at 02:25 AM. Reason: adding something

  3. #163
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Default While I completely agree with this type of proposal

    Quote Originally Posted by Beelzebubalicious View Post
    Taking Jason's point about politics, how about taking this out of the political realm (if that is, indeed, possible) and putting it in to nuetral hands or territory? It could involve representatives, those who leave their uniforms at the door, of the major agencies, but not high level bureaucrats, but experienced, field people. I like Rex's idea - focus on the issues and scenarios, not the particular style, methodology, etc. Just what works.

    Would this be possible?

    If so, I can offer a potential nuetral party.
    I think the major problem you run into is that regardless of who builds what it has to be able to play nice with a whole bunch of existing programs all of which tie in with rice bowls and who don't all always like to share for reasons which are somewhat understandable if not necessarily helpful
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

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  4. #164
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    While harder to do in an AI-based electronic sim, this is relatively easy to do as part of a human-moderated RPG.
    Pet peeve of mine: A war-gamer friend and I once did the math, and determined that we could do Warfighter-type exercises as a human-moderated RPG with 1/3 to 1/2 the personnel and 1/4 th emoney as state of the art circa 1998.

    To a great extent, imo, sims don't save any money and are a net time-waster compared to creative human-driven equivalents.

    But they look cool, don't they?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    Pet peeve of mine: A war-gamer friend and I once did the math, and determined that we could do Warfighter-type exercises as a human-moderated RPG with 1/3 to 1/2 the personnel and 1/4 th emoney as state of the art circa 1998.

    To a great extent, imo, sims don't save any money and are a net time-waster compared to creative human-driven equivalents.

    But they look cool, don't they?
    In fairness to electronic SIMs, they don't require a skilled moderator, and hence are more easily utilized in diverse settings. They are also excellent at kinetic/physics modeling. I don't think the AI and social interaction components can get anywhere near the sophistication of a skilled human-moderated RPG, however.

  6. #166
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    I'm wondering the cost differential of one skilled RPG moderator versus the veritable ARMY of skilled computer geeks we now require to run a system that breaks down every few hours....

    The key, I think, would be to run something like a hybrid system, where a moderator is given a basic script/game-plan, and uses a computer system to do the complex kinetic calculations outcomes and even certain sequels, within limits

    Kind of like a Dungeon Master with electronic dice.

  7. #167
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    This is actually done to a degree in some varieties of online games (MUSHs, for example).

    For a more complex scenario, a panel of moderators (White Cell) would be workable as well. It would most likely be cheaper than the fully programmed alternatives, and more flexible and 'realistic' as well.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Default yes, I really am this geeky

    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    Kind of like a Dungeon Master with electronic dice.
    Can I play a halfling rogue?

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    Council Member BayonetBrant's Avatar
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    Of course, the major challenge with a human arbiter instead of the computer is that the unit who's ass is getting kicked will default to the excuse of "That idiot running the exercise didn't give us credit for the # of (fill in the blank) that we should've had! If we had that this would all be different!"

    It's the same reason we don't use false positives in the intel training - it allows the unit to have a built-in excuse to ignore the lessons they should've learned.

    If you've got the computer to point to and say "you fired 20 shots and 11 hit" the unit doesn't argue as much as they would if there was a 'DM' saying the same thing.
    Brant
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  10. #170
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BayonetBrant View Post
    Of course, the major challenge with a human arbiter instead of the computer is that the unit who's ass is getting kicked will default to the excuse of "That idiot running the exercise didn't give us credit for the # of (fill in the blank) that we should've had! If we had that this would all be different!"

    It's the same reason we don't use false positives in the intel training - it allows the unit to have a built-in excuse to ignore the lessons they should've learned.

    If you've got the computer to point to and say "you fired 20 shots and 11 hit" the unit doesn't argue as much as they would if there was a 'DM' saying the same thing.
    I would agree IF all that was being modeled were kinetic results (and even then people have been known to accuse the AI of 'cheating' on the results...often with some degree of accuracy depending on the model). But with COIN you have a variety of human factors that I don't think can be accurately modeled using computer systems. As I've said before (and others have echoed) a combined system may be the best way (using the computer for 'combat results'). But at the end of the day I really think you do need a human control element, or at least a majority of humans involved on all teams and minimal AI.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  11. #171
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    Quote Originally Posted by BayonetBrant View Post
    If you've got the computer to point to and say "you fired 20 shots and 11 hit" the unit doesn't argue as much as they would if there was a 'DM' saying the same thing.
    This is undoubtedly a problem--the belief among participants that outcomes were being decided by moderator biases and not by their own actions.

    In my experience, most of this can be resolved by a combination of effective moderating (which requires some skill and experience, hence the difficulty of using a RPG format as a generally-disseminated training tool) and good post-simulation debriefing. It is often the case that what participants attribute at first to moderator bias is actually due to their own lack of information ("You didn't realize the police chief was the brother of the school principal? That's why the police were unenthusiastic about guarding the school after the principal had been fired and replaced with an outsider.")

    I also wouldn't underestimate similar problems in electronic simulations ("I would have killed that BMP if my mouse hadn't stuck/if the physics modeling was more accurate/if I had been able to hear it like I could in real life").

    All this discussion has me wanting to work on one...

  12. #172
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    This is undoubtedly a problem--the belief among participants that outcomes were being decided by moderator biases and not by their own actions.

    In my experience, most of this can be resolved by a combination of effective moderating (which requires some skill and experience, hence the difficulty of using a RPG format as a generally-disseminated training tool) and good post-simulation debriefing. It is often the case that what participants attribute at first to moderator bias is actually due to their own lack of information ("You didn't realize the police chief was the brother of the school principal? That's why the police were unenthusiastic about guarding the school after the principal had been fired and replaced with an outsider.")

    I also wouldn't underestimate similar problems in electronic simulations ("I would have killed that BMP if my mouse hadn't stuck/if the physics modeling was more accurate/if I had been able to hear it like I could in real life").

    All this discussion has me wanting to work on one...
    Excellent points. As a recon guy in a former life, I used to be greatly frustrated by the lack of ability to be properly "modelled" in any of the computer games.

    I was restricted to, at first, maneuvering my Troops as a single icon, and then some computer wank did me the "favor" of "allowing" me, to obviously great inconvenience to himself and the replication, to maneuver Platoon icons.

    And then my Division commander chewed butt for the CAV not seeing anything, and getting killed right away....

    I think with any kind of simulation, it's more about testing systems and staffs than achieving some kind of net result at the end, anyway, just because all of the variables at play.

  13. #173
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    I do not think a COIN simulator is viable at the tactical level because a COIN simulation is inherently political. Many have already mentioned the obvious problems in modelling the complex relationships in a COIN environment. A fully simulated tactical COIN simulator would be simplistic at best, which is a problem with nearly all games which attempt to model any kind of political environment. I think this kind of simulation would be best utilitzed as a staff tool at battalion or higher. Using the model I suggested earlier, the S3 and S2 could take their traditional roles (Blue Force and OpFor, respectively), the S5 as the most influential civilian demographic in the AO, the S9 (if available) as any agencies in the AO, and the S4 possibly as other friendly forces in the AO (if any). Since there's likely to be multiple OpFor and civilian groups, people can be pulled from the S2 and S5 sections (or the other remaining sections) as necessary. All the while, the S6 can make sure the simulator is functioning properly since there'd be little need for any kind of moderator. The system wouldn't require anything more than someone knowledgeable in a common programming language (PHP, C++, etc) and access to the internet.

    Further Note: All of this could be made available through a master site (even AKO), where the staffs can enter and play their respective scenarios, using a basic options menu common to any game to design the desired scenario. My inspirations for this idea were this game and this one. The first one uses PHP to model the classic Diplomacy board game (no moderator necessary) and hosts hundreds of simultaneous games; the second models the whole of the Star Wars universe; of course, that kind of scale is not necessary for COIN purposes. Both of these are free to the users.
    Last edited by AmericanPride; 09-29-2008 at 04:38 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    I've used TACOPS as well, but I've been interested (with no luck) in getting my hands on CCM to use with the ROTC course that I'm developing dealing with joint campaign planning. I preferred the CC game engine to TACOPS, and it would work better for simulating some of the small unit action that we're bound to need (the actual map exercise runs on a battalion+ level).
    Interesting.

    We are using (partially) TACOPS currently in a SADR CITY MOUT MBX (http://www.opcon.org/SadrCity/), check the "MOUT in TACOPS" icon to the left.

    This said, I am still recruiting (MBX just resumed after summer pause).

    FWIW,

    Silento

    >> EDIT: Added players guide link:
    http://www.opcon.org/SadrCity/BLUE/S...ayersGuide.pdf
    Last edited by Silento; 11-03-2008 at 08:16 PM.

  15. #175
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    Default Resource for modern and assymetric wargaming

    Hi, I've been putting together a site with links to a range of topics on modern wargaming and wargame design. The assymetric and red teaming are two things that I'd like to expand on. Feel free to check it out and suggest new source of information that isn't there.

    Cheers,

    http://sites.google.com/site/bongotastic/

    bongotastic

  16. #176
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    Default Wargaming

    I am currently in CGSC and a SAMS selectee. Deployment experience and now the word of academics has led me to believe the Army no longer has a viable model for wargaming for stabilization / counter-insurgent operations. The linear process is no longer feasible given the number of variables, threats, competitors, etc. (i.e. action, reaction, counteraction is a thing of the past).

    I am beginning my thesis research in this area of wargaming. Specifically looking at a model that provides an idea of what questions should be looked at. Honestly, I am not convinced that wargaming is feasible given the complexity of influences along a given LOE.

    Thoughts and perspective would be appreciated.

    Cheers
    John

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    You've probably already seen his posts if you conducted any degree of forum searches, but I recommend that you might want to talk with member Nichols first and foremost.
    Last edited by jcustis; 01-16-2010 at 10:58 PM.

  18. #178
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    Quote Originally Posted by John View Post
    I am beginning my thesis research in this area of wargaming. Specifically looking at a model that provides an idea of what questions should be looked at. Honestly, I am not convinced that wargaming is feasible given the complexity of influences along a given LOE.

    Thoughts and perspective would be appreciated.
    I think, as a first step, one needs to think about what one is wargaming, and why.

    Is it for purposes of training? In that case, a well designed wargame can highlight operational complexities, and identify the sorts of questions, issues, and challenges that COIN and stability operations present. (On the other hand, if it implies to much clarity about this, I think it sends all the wrong signals.)

    Is it for the purpose of operations planning? Here I'm much more dubious, although one can imagine wargame designs that help to identify possible responses by insurgents and others.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


  19. #179
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John View Post
    I am currently in CGSC and a SAMS selectee. Deployment experience and now the word of academics has led me to believe the Army no longer has a viable model for wargaming for stabilization / counter-insurgent operations. The linear process is no longer feasible given the number of variables, threats, competitors, etc. (i.e. action, reaction, counteraction is a thing of the past).
    Warfare has never been linear, and the number of variable is quantifiable. This is just irregular warfare as opposed to regular warfare. You merely have to replicate the Ends, Ways and Means in a form that delivers the product you want. FIGHTING Irregulars is not very different from Fighting Regulars. War gaming really only works at the tactical level, so I suggest that is the limit of your enquiry.

    I am beginning my thesis research in this area of wargaming. Specifically looking at a model that provides an idea of what questions should be looked at. Honestly, I am not convinced that wargaming is feasible given the complexity of influences along a given LOE.
    Do you mean "gaming" or simulation? What is the exam question? ( see REX ) Warfare today is no more complex than it was 3,000 years ago. If you assume it is, you've just backed yourself into a corner.
    Killing bad folks = gets points. Killing civilians = loosing points.
    Irregular warfare generally requires greater discrimination in order to support the Policy = do not kill civilians.

    Actually there are at least two PC based simulations that already account for this, - and do it pretty well.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  20. #180
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    Default Scope of the game

    John,

    Sounds like an interesting project, but perhaps being too long in the tooth I remain a skeptic of any attempt to seriously replicate a stability operation. However, I still think a game could be useful in introducing multiple variables that a commander/leader will have to consider ranging from security to economic development to developing peace arrangements between different warring factions.

    Ideally any game developed would allow the integration of key players from the interagency, NGOs, PVOs, multi-national partners; and portray a complicated/complex environment such as Bosnia, Somalia, etc. At the same time following Wilf's focus at the tactical level, we should be able to scale it down to the tactical level by focusing on particular military missions such a security operations, providing humanitarian assistance, etc. I don't think the tactical piece of the game is that hard. We actually played games like this during the 90's focused on Peace Operations that are a form of Stability Operation, so you don't have to reinvent the wheel.

    I agree with Wilf that war isn't more complicated now than it was in WWI or during the Vietnam conflict, but simply that the environmental variables have changed. We're not worried so much about conducting operations that may cross the red line anymore resulting in superpowers slinging nukes at one another. Now we're more concerned about misstepping, thus allowing or causing pockets of instability to expand and destabilize entire regions. This is a strategic level consideration that will define your limitations at the tactical level. For the gamers at the tactical level you're given a mission, your limitations, an environment, and then you play the game and see what ideas it generates.

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