Chapter9.gif (961 bytes) Wargames at War

Politics in Modeling

A military model must deal with many items which are not, strictly speaking, military. For the most part, these non military items have to do with various "political" issues. We are talking about the existance of political considerations within wargames, as well as political influence on the way wargames are designed. Examples;

  • Patronage and Battlefield Performance- Patronage is always with us. Many countries, including the US, must cope with political interference in purely military decision making. For example, what weapons to purchase, how many and in some cases, where to station them. A more critical problem arises when senior military commands are handed out on the basis of political, not military, competence. Battlefield performance is a serious issue only during wartime. Sometimes not even then, it is vague. The combat experienced people are often unable to prevail over those who simply create experience in their imaginations and memos.
  • The Mitrailleuse Factor- The French Secret Weapon of 1870 that was so secret no one in the French army knew how to use it. There are a lot of weapons like this still around. Sometimes no one knows how to use the weapon simply because it's unique and there's no past experience to use as a guide. The "politics of secrecy" in most military establishments frequently keeps valuable information from their own troops. This was noted as recently as the 1991 Gulf War.
  • The Red Badge of Courage Factor- Combat experience, or at least military service, imparts an invaluable insight into difficult to under stand aspects of military operations. Noted military authors don't catch the essence of the chaos on the battlefield as well as novels like The Red Badge of Courage (written by someone who was never in combat, and who was hailed as one of the few non-combatants who managed to capture the feel of the battlefield). These differences in perceptions are often the explanation for otherwise inexplicable historical events.
  • Learn to live with Paper Bullets- Physical death is a wartime danger. In peacetime, the normal state of soldiers and their suppliers, Paper Bullets can cause career threatening injuries. Soldiers have to live with this danger for most of their careers. Even in combat, people not getting shot at by real bullets are always subject to the paper variety. Paper bullets must be modeled if you want to have accurate models of military behavior.
  • Unsinkable aircraft carriers- If your model is really good, it may destroy some zealously held beliefs. This may cause you some problems, as the model may be seen as more expendable than the beliefs.
  • Unquestioned Optimism- The guidance you receive from your clients may cause you to create a model with unrealistically optimistic goals or parameters. A good model builder accepts the burden of disabusing the client of their myths. The goal of a model is to reveal the truth, not perpetuate false perceptions.
  • Your Army Won't Go to War With Itself- Armies, and frequently model builders, make the mistake of modeling their own forces fighting opponents too similar to themselves. Your potential opponent must be modeled accurately. Think like the enemy, which is not as easy as it may appear. Use teenagers, or others with few preconceived ideas, to model opponent forces.

  Why Use History?

  End Note

  Table of Contents

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