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Tag Archives: Professional

Battle Lab: Games and Sims for Training and Learning, II

Continuing the long-running discussion ~

Dr James Sterrett, 12 December 2017

Previously published back at GrogNews, we have a guest article written by Dr James Sterrett, an instructor at the US Army’s Command and General Staff College. Please note that these are his ideas and are not reflective of official US Army policy, doctrine, canon, religion, or other official imprimatur.

the objective of an activity [is] more important that the software (or paper rule set) being used

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Brant and I have cheerfully sparred over the distinction between games and simulations over the years.  What follows is my take, focused on training & education, in two different variants.  The first is useful as a snappy comment, while the second works better analytically.  In the end, both point to the objective of an activity as more important that the software (or paper rule set) being used, and neither variant is perfect.

GrogHeads Analyzes Aftershock: A Humanitarian Crisis Game

Professional development through better gameplay? ~

Brant Guillory, 12 August 2017

The first tremors hit Carana around 415 in the morning, local time. The capital was just stirring as many laborers were hurrying through their pre-dawn meals before shuffling out of their small houses to arrive at work by sunrise. The full brunt of the earthquake arrive 20 minutes or so later, and the devastation was described by at least one news outlet as “biblical.” The nations tenuous infrastructure, barely a patchwork to begin with, had no chance against the fury unleashed by the Earth’s shifting tectonic plates as bridges crumbled, roads buckled, water pipes tore apart like paper, and the electrical grid shut down, ending any communication that was out of shouting distance.

The full brunt of the earthquake arrive 20 minutes or so later, and the devastation was described by at least one news outlet as “biblical.”

Help was slow in arriving. Certainly the help wanted to arrive, but the routes into the country – the limited airport, the ramshackle seaport, and inland border – were never ideal under perfect circumstances, and these were not perfect circumstances. The local population certainly had a will to survive, but lacked critical supplies for medical care, safe water, and food & shelter. The world mobilized to help.

And the help began to arrive, a multi-headed hydra of organizations, services, expertise, and agendas. Usually cooperative, occasionally antagonistic, and always under the steady gaze of the worlds’ TV cameras, the various organizations rolled up their sleeves to start the long, hard slog of restoring the basic necessities of life to Carana.

Battle Lab: Headquarters in Wargames

Originally published in Battles! Magazine, here’s a look at HQ units on your tabletop ~

Brant Guillory, 3 May 2017

How are headquarters units implemented in wargames, and what functions do they serve? As wargamers, most of us have enough appreciation of history to understand the value of a headquarters in combat and its ability dramatically affect a battle as it unfolds. There are a variety of ways in which headquarters units can be portrayed on the tabletop.

But first, let’s look at what they do in real life (as always, “the disclaimer”: the doctrine being discussed is American; it’s what I know).

The Tuesday Interview – Dr James Sterrett talks Brown Bag Wargaming

With the recent launch of CGSC’s “Brown Bag” wargaming lunch program, we reached out to the guys at Ft Leavenworth to ask about how hobby wargaming is making its way (back) into the professional ranks ~

Brant Guillory, 07 February 2017

So there was mention of a “brown bag” lunch series of wargames for Army officers to come learn about this crazy hobby of ours, and – we’re assuming – learn how it can all tie into the profession of arms for their future benefit.  Can you tell us a little bit about how the series got started, and what the expectations were for the initial ramp-up of the program?

The idea for the Brown Bag Gaming Program came from our desire to provide a wider array of games that we can fit into our Training with Simulations elective course.  The more we thought about it, the more objectives we realized it might fill.

The core tenet of Brown Bag Gaming is that the development of simulations professionals requires the exploration and discussion of a wide variety of modeling and simulation approaches.  The best means of accomplishing this is to experience the models and simulations in action.  Less formally, that means playing games and thinking about them critically.

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Tracer Rounds – Another “Resurgence” of Military Wargaming?

The military wants to ‘get back’ to wargaming.  Are they serious this time? ~

There’s been a recent trend in the media covering some developments in the military that I hope or at least slightly heartening. I’ve started to see multiple articles here and there on well-respected online sites about the reinvigoration of wargaming in the military. tracer-wgI’ve written before about the way the professionals use wargaming and how it differs from hobby games and what is commercially realistic. That said, there is certainly some crossover between the two given that so many professionals are also hot scammers, or have been taught by them. (As an editor note, voice recognition just picked up “hobby gamers” as “hot scammers”; maybe Google knows something we don’t?)

There have been articles from the Marines, the Navy, think tanks, and high ranking DoD officials about ways in which the military can start using wargaming again. Part of this is being driven by budget constraints.  My hope is that at least part of this trend is being driven by explorations of uncertainty in our future conflicts.  This type of exploratory wargaming drove US naval innovations in aviation in the inter-war years, and has also been credited with the development of German blitzkrieg tactics around the same time.  So the track record exists of using wargaming as a forward-looking tool for examining doctrine and concepts.  It’s already known as a tool for training, even if a misunderstood one on a regular basis.  Again, I’ve talked about the uses of wargaming in a previous column, so I won’t rehash too much here, just go read the earlier article.