China has introduced a manual
wargaming system for training of
commanders at the battalion, brigade and division level. Using maps, and small
pieces of cardboard representing units (and with the designation of the unit,
its combat power and mobility written on it), battles are fought. There are
probability tables for the results of combat, and use of supplies. Previous to
this, these training exercise were conducted using the 19th century German
"Free Kriegspiel" system, in which umpires would basically estimate the outcome
of battles and the movement and supply abilities of units involved. The new
system is considered more accurate and easy to use.
systems like this were first used by the American military in the 1970s, and
the export of such devices, even the ones commercially available (in book
stores, alongside books on military history and current affairs), was illegal.
The FBI conducted an investigation of illegal export of these commercial
wargames in the late 1970s. It turned out that the Chinese had someone ship the
wargames to third countries, like Hong Kong or Singapore, and thence on to
China. The FBI visited the publishers of the commercial wargames and examined
mailing lists, trying to find out who the Chinese agents were. Nothing more was
heard about the Chinese use of these systems after that, and it was believed that
Chinese versions of these games were only used in secret projects (to develop
new tactics to examine the outcome of possible future wars). The new,
unclassified, training system shows signs of having been around for a while,
apparently as a classified (secret) system.