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Old 07-21-2010   #1
Redleg7
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Default Follow Me Tactical Decision Game

Hey Guys,
Just wanted to post a little blurb about a game we are using at West Point to teach tactical decision making and problem solving. It's called Follow Me and is designed to put our cadets in the role of a platoon leader. At the moment our focus is on light infantry ops but the game is designed to cover mounted ops as well.

Here's a link to the wiki:
Follow Me Wiki

Our main goal was to make earning tactics a lot more interactive. FM gives the cadet's a chance to practice what they've been taught. Keep in mind the game is simply a tool, we do not advocate replacing field training with simulated exercises.

I've run a little over 5000 kids through different types of exercises using FM. I've also visited Fordham and Santa Clara Universities running small exercises for their ROTC programs. Feedback from the cadets is always positive.
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Old 07-21-2010   #2
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We do one here for Air Force ROTC, and the feedback is always very positive.
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Old 07-21-2010   #3
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We do one here for Air Force ROTC, and the feedback is always very positive.
Steve,
What program do you guys use?
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Old 07-21-2010   #4
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It's a local product, map-based and not computerized. As you might expect, it deals more with airpower theory at the higher tactical/operational level and puts cadets against each other in four teams (two sets of allies, so they have to practice a sort of coalition warfare).
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Old 07-21-2010   #5
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It's a local product, map-based and not computerized. As you might expect, it deals more with airpower theory at the higher tactical/operational level and puts cadets against each other in four teams (two sets of allies, so they have to practice a sort of coalition warfare).
Is this being done at USAFA or Maxwell AFB?

You should talk to Mo Morgan, I believe he's at Maxwell. They are using a commercial program that's been modified. I believe the focus is on planning an air campaign.
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Old 07-21-2010   #6
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It's ROTC, and it's a local product. I've seen the computerized air campaigning planning stuff, and it doesn't really suit our needs. We have to run it in a fairly limited window (although we're working on a joint possibility that would involve the Army and run most of a semester), and it's geared more toward immediate planning and execution (one turn equals one day) with less of a focus on logistical placement. We've also tailored the air forces so that each team has to work within certain limitations created by both equipment and political considerations.

An earlier version of the exercise was offered up through the AFROTC chain a couple of years back, and no one else seemed to be interested. So we keep plugging away in our little corner of the world.
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Old 07-21-2010   #7
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It's ROTC, and it's a local product. I've seen the computerized air campaigning planning stuff, and it doesn't really suit our needs. We have to run it in a fairly limited window (although we're working on a joint possibility that would involve the Army and run most of a semester), and it's geared more toward immediate planning and execution (one turn equals one day) with less of a focus on logistical placement. We've also tailored the air forces so that each team has to work within certain limitations created by both equipment and political considerations.

An earlier version of the exercise was offered up through the AFROTC chain a couple of years back, and no one else seemed to be interested. So we keep plugging away in our little corner of the world.
Same here in regards to plugging away. The Army opted for a first person shooter, which I was involved with, but to be honest it falls short of our requirements. Now the Army wants to push the FPS into the captain's career course which I cannot reconcile. I've been involved with using games for training for a long while, first at CGSC using Decisive Action and now at West Point. I guess you could say I know a little about using games for training.
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Old 07-21-2010   #8
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It's been something of a struggle here at times to keep cadre interested, but once they see how much the cadets enjoy it (and the handful of non-cadets who've taken it and often 'beat' our folks) they start to come around. It's part of a wider weapons course, so it's not as long as I'd like, but it's a start. We also opted to keep the map-based exercise so that cadets who had completed the course could come back and serve on White Cell. They've also enjoyed that part of it.
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Old 07-21-2010   #9
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It's been something of a struggle here at times to keep cadre interested, but once they see how much the cadets enjoy it (and the handful of non-cadets who've taken it and often 'beat' our folks) they start to come around. It's part of a wider weapons course, so it's not as long as I'd like, but it's a start. We also opted to keep the map-based exercise so that cadets who had completed the course could come back and serve on White Cell. They've also enjoyed that part of it.
I'm in the same situation, at first the instructors don't see the value until they hear the comments from their cadets that are along the lines of "Why don't we do this more often" or "I've learned more in one hour than I have in the last six".

Our game was designed with both the training audience and the instructors in mind. If the game is to challenging to use the instructors will not want to use it. If the game interface is to hard no one will want to use it.
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Old 07-21-2010   #10
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I'm in the same situation, at first the instructors don't see the value until they hear the comments from their cadets that are along the lines of "Why don't we do this more often" or "I've learned more in one hour than I have in the last six".

Our game was designed with both the training audience and the instructors in mind. If the game is to challenging to use the instructors will not want to use it. If the game interface is to hard no one will want to use it.
Our interface is easy, and the game engine itself is streamlined and easy to use. I've had cadets who went through the class turn around and resolve combats and situations with only an hour of training beforehand. Since it's geared to be freeplay (within the scenario limitations), instructors exist to answer rules questions and that's about it during the exercise itself.
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Old 07-21-2010   #11
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What school are you with?
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Old 07-21-2010   #12
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I've used FPS' as a training aid and I think it works very well for teaching convoy operations. It does not work as well dismounted for a variety of reasons.

But if you want to practice sectors of fire, checkpoints and radio procedures it works well at a fraction of the cost of getting everyone into a vehicle, which is what I'm told they used to do.

Now, if you want to look at JCATs, that system takes it to a whole new level. We could stand to double down and use more of that.

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Old 07-21-2010   #13
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What school are you with?
PM on the way.
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Old 07-21-2010   #14
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I took the "Training with PC Based Simulations" elective at CGSC in APR-MAY. We were introduced to everything from FPSs, through small unit stuff (Follow Me, TACOPS and Steel Beasts) to large unit level sims (DA, etc).

Each sim has its uses and limitations. As long as you understand the sim, and use it to train appropriate training objectives, they are great tools.

The biggest issues I see are:
1- senior leaders that don't accept the validity of training
2- the "learning curve" required for some sims (the more "realistic", the steeper the curve)
3- lack of leaders understanding how to train with sims
4- the possibility that budget cutters will forego live training for sims. Sims can meet some objectives, but the final edge has to be honed with live action training- you can't simulate the sights, sounds, heat, fear and exhaustion of combat, but you can come pretty close (everything except the fear) in an environment like JRTC.
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Old 07-22-2010   #15
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Is it available to people who are not affiliated with the military?

I didn't see info on the site.
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Old 07-22-2010   #16
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I took the "Training with PC Based Simulations" elective at CGSC in APR-MAY. We were introduced to everything from FPSs, through small unit stuff (Follow Me, TACOPS and Steel Beasts) to large unit level sims (DA, etc).

Each sim has its uses and limitations. As long as you understand the sim, and use it to train appropriate training objectives, they are great tools.
I am a huge fan of PC Based Simulations for training. They are great tools, and need to be far better understood.

I find it very strange that some Officers who have used them for fun have actually said to me, "Oh they're not realistic. What we get trained to do for real, does not work in the game." - no really! I have had that said to me twice!!!
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Old 07-22-2010   #17
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I am a huge fan of PC Based Simulations for training. They are great tools, and need to be far better understood.

I find it very strange that some Officers who have used them for fun have actually said to me, "Oh they're not realistic. What we get trained to do for real, does not work in the game." - no really! I have had that said to me twice!!!
Matrix Games produces alot of "realistic" PC based simulations. Their best deal with naval command, but their infantry ones have been well received.
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Old 07-22-2010   #18
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Is it available to people who are not affiliated with the military?

I didn't see info on the site.
Not at the moment. I've talked to Jim about a commercial version but he is tied up with military stuff at the moment. I'd like to package it as a series of scenarios that cover a variety of tactical themes. Platoon ops from WWII to the present. Each vignette would actually be a lesson.
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Old 07-22-2010   #19
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I am a huge fan of PC Based Simulations for training. They are great tools, and need to be far better understood.

I find it very strange that some Officers who have used them for fun have actually said to me, "Oh they're not realistic. What we get trained to do for real, does not work in the game." - no really! I have had that said to me twice!!!
I've been a gamer for a long time starting with Avalon Hill's Panzer Blitz.

When I ran Decisive Action exercises at CGSC the students would always complain that one aspect or another wasn't "realistic" and I would tell them "No crap Sherlock it's a freakin game". My COL showed us a slide with the following quote:

All models are wrong; some models are useful.
-- generally attributed to the statistician George Box

We get pushback in regards to realism all the time. For what we are doing close enough is good enough. My question to those officers would be did you learn something useful? It's really up to the instructor to manage those expectations up front. A lot of pushback comes from "professional" modeling and sims types who have a hard time wrapping their minds around abstractions. Anyone who has played a boardgame will understand abstractions. If you look at the big sims I'd say that all of them model at the individual entity level or close to it. JWARS, WARSIM, JCATS, BBS, JANUS, etc are all entity level.
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Old 07-22-2010   #20
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We get pushback in regards to realism all the time. For what we are doing close enough is good enough. My question to those officers would be did you learn something useful? It's really up to the instructor to manage those expectations up front.
Concur. It is actually better to switch it around and say, "Do tactics that work in the game, work for real - within the limits of the model?" - and then, "do things known to work for real" then work in the game.
What games expose is "faith based tactics," not proven to work on operations.
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
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Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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