Chapter9.gif (961 bytes) Wargames at War

Military Wargames, Models and Simulations

The US military maintains an inventory of nearly 600 different wargames, simulations and models. Some of these are quite arcane, especially those dealing with various aspects of electronic warfare. A lot of them are over thirty years old, including ATLAS, one of the oldest and ill conceived models ever put to use. Wargames are a minority among this 600, with most being models, plus a lesser number of simulations. Most of these items are used for examining very narrow issues. Typically, these are models developed to support some engineering need. There is a tremendous need for models of this type, as any competent engineer will want to model a new system thoroughly before handing it over to the troops. Similar models are also used as training devices for the troops using the new weapons systems. Unfortunately, this plethora of engineering type models has, quite naturally, heavily influenced the design of simulations and wargames within the military. This is only natural. With so many models in use, it's hard to avoid using models as your prototype for developing simulations and wargames,

These 600 items were largely created by civilian contractors (the "beltway bandits") who draw their staff from academia and retired military personnel, the rest are created by active duty troops or civil servants. In the last ten years, about five percent of all military officers have received some OR or wargames training, and increasingly these military gamers are creating the militarys wargames without assistance from the beltway bandits.

Operations Research and wargamers (they tend to be clumped together) have their own organizations within the military, led by an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Analysis. Each of the services has one large, and several smaller organizations devoted largely to OR and wargames work. The Mational Defense University (for all services, in Washington) and each of the services War Colleges have active wargaming operations.

The army has the CAA (Concepts Analysis Agency, in the DC area), which provides wargame analysis to supports new doctrine, weapons and tactics as well as justification for budget requests. The army also has its TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command) headquarters in Ft Monroe, Virginia, where a lot of systems analysis is done. The air force has a Studies and Analysis operation in air force headquarters at the Pentagon, providing the same services as CAA, but with less emphasis on wargaming. The navy has its Center for Naval Analysis in the DC area which, like the air force, does more analysis than wargaming.

Most of the wargaming is done outside Washington. The army has a major wargaming operation at Ft Leavenworth, as well as several TRADOC Analysis Centers (TRAC). White Sands, New Mexico (where missiles are developed) is another analysis center. The bulk of the detailed analysis (and a lot of the gaming) is done at the branch schools (Armor, Infantry, Artillery, etc.) Ft Lee, Virginia (the logistics school) is where the army does most of its OR training and some wargaming. Weapons effects data is obtained from the Aberdeen (Maryland) Ballistic research Lab and other facilities at Aberdeen. Note that much of the data coming out of Aberdeen over the years was later found to be inaccurate, either because the information request was not understood or the wrong data was sent and the inaccuracy was never discovered until much later (if at all).

The navy does most of its wargaming at its Newport News (Rhode Island) war college. The Navy operation is the oldest, largest and arguably the most effective in the world. The Naval Post Graduate School (Monteray, California) is the Department of Defense center for degree study of OR.

The air force has a relatively new wargaming center at their war college in Mississippi.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff Group (at the Pentagon) does analysis for budget requirements and planning, as well as some wargaming.

Washington, DC based contractors tend to supply the bulk of games and simulators used. Because there are so many experienced wargamers in uniform, wargaming projects have been popping up all over the place. Many, if not most, of these games do not get entered into the official inventory of nearly 600 Department of Defense wargames, models and simulations.

In practice, only a few dozen of the 600 official wargames are widely used. Through the 1980s, a flood of new wargames came into official use, largely inspired by the commercial wargames available in stores and a recognition of a need for new wargames that performed better than the old ones.


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