December 21, 2004
As computer wargames become more commonly used in the military, the troops have found that, even with off-the-shelf commercial wargames, you cant use them the same way civilians do. For example, officers studying tactics and combat zone operations often use commercial games (like TacOps or Decisive Action) on networks. But they have found that having one computer per student is not the most effective way to do it. While these games are set up so one player can control everything that has to be done on either side, reality is different. Each battalion or brigade has numerous essential staff jobs that officers have to learn to do well under the pressures of combat. So in training using the wargames, its often better to have three or four people per PC. While one enters orders and checks for information, the others can discuss how the staff jobs would be done.
Another example occurs with ROTC and West Point cadets using low level games to learn the basics of infantry combat, and leadership. Instructors have found that two new wargames; Americas Army and Full Spectrum Warrior, can compliment each other nicely. Americas Army is a massively multiplayer game for introducing potential recruits to the army. It emphasizes use of weapons, and doesnt teach much about tactics. For cadets, this is not useful. If you are going to run around with a gun, you should do it the right way and know what you are doing. The solution was found in Full Spectrum Warrior, a single player game developed to show soldiers (or civilians), the right way to run a squad (10-11 troops) in combat. It was found that a few hours spent playing Full Spectrum Warrior taught a cadet the basics of running a squad in combat. They could then go into the Americas Army as a group and promptly perform as a well trained infantry squad should. This approach has proved very successful.