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8 mars 2015 7 08 /03 /mars /2015 12:35
Leadership: China Builds A Better Wargame


March 6, 2015: Strategy page


China surprised Western military professionals in 2009 when Chinese media ran stories, with photos, of Chinese developed professional wargames in action. The photos and text included enough detail for Western military wargamers to discern what was going on. The wargame shown was the TCCST (Tactical Command and Control Simulation Training System), and it was being used by members of the 6th Armored Division for a training exercise. It's a typical "blue versus red" (where "red" is the good guys and "blue" is the enemy) type game but few in the West expected China to be developing and producing stuff like this on their own. Over the next few years more Chinese wargames for media attention, if only because these were now widely used in the Chinese military and there was no point in trying to keep them secret.


The Chinese games looked comparable to simulations used by U.S. troops, and those of other Western nations. The United States has been the leader in this field, and since the late 1990s professional wargames have absorbed much of the graphics and realism commercial games (not just wargames) have developed. It's obvious that the Chinese have adopted much of the technology available in the West and stuff that commercial game companies have created. Since the late 1990s there have been a growing number of commercial wargames available that are useful for training battalion and brigade commanders, but designed mainly for a civilian gamer market. Some of these were designed by active duty and retired military personnel, and some are used by professionals, as well as civilians, interested in military affairs. The same thing was happening in China, where computers became enormously popular (and increasingly common) after 2000. China banned (until recently) game consoles so if Chinese wanted wargames they had to be written to run on PCs. The Internet spread even faster than PCs in China and young officers were soon in tough with their civilian peers discussing how to adapt civilian wargames for military use.


During all this China reinvented a lot of wargaming technology, largely because while wargames were an ancient Chinese military planning tool all that knowledge had been dismissed by the new communist government that took over in the late 1940s. During the “Cultural Revolution” from the mid-1960s t0 mid-1970s all professional military education was shut down, in part because if was considered “counter-revolutionary.” When China cast aside that revolution in the late 1970s and decided to adopt a market economy (while keeping the communist police state) all resources were devoted to economic development and the military budget was cut. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that military education for officers and planners was resumed and at this point it was realized that the West had done great things with wargaming.


China had revived military staff analysis capabilities in the early 1990s and one of the first things studied was the 1991 Gulf War. The results of that study horrified Chinese military and political leaders. It was now obvious that the West had used modern technology, new training techniques and wargaming to create armed forces of unprecedented capabilities. From this point on China decided to reform their armed forces to be able to do what the Westerners did in 1991. One of the more obvious results of that are Chinese troops wearing combat uniforms similar to those of Western troops and Chinese made weapons that were also similar. What got little attention in Western media was the rapid development of effective wargames. In part this was because the Chinese began with nothing. The communists had eliminated their own wargaming past and the easiest examples of wargames to copy were from the West. The Chinese were helped by the fact that the U.S. Army had abandoned traditional wargames from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s and also had to start from scratch, using commercial wargames (which had become a hobby in the late 1950s) to revive their professional wargames program. Although the U.S. tried to prevent the Chinese from getting these wargames by declaring them “munitions” and thus illegal to export to China, there were plenty of other ways for China to send someone into a store and just buy them and get them shipped back to China one way or another.


The officers put in charge of developing Chinese wargames were smart guys with a technology background. They had one major advantage in that traditional Chinese wargames were always heavily influenced by what the senior commanders wanted, not what the situation really was. The new Chinese wargames were developed by officers who were scientists and their games were based on reality. The senior officers respected that as did the senior political leaders. All this was kept secret because the higher level (strategic) games showed that China was weak and vulnerable. But Chinese leaders used their wargame results to more effectively rebuild Chinese military power. The main reason China has not become a military superpower by now is the long tradition of corruption in the military continues to resist efforts to eliminate these bad habits.


Westerners were not surprised that the Chinese obtained, and adopted, Western wargames technology, but were unclear about what reality the Chinese were simulating. Put simply, that means how effective were Chinese and Western weapons, equipment and, most importantly, the subordinate leaders whose effectiveness is built into the game, portrayed.  Some Western games allow the users to set these qualitative values at different levels. But Westerners knew that in East Asia in general free (let the chips fall where they may) play is not acceptable to most senior military commanders. There's more a tendency for the generals to want their forces to be portrayed in a positive light. So there were suspicions that the Chinese forces are portrayed, in their wargames, as more powerful than they actually are. This would be consistent with the large scale military exercises are organized, where the good (Chinese) guys are programmed to win. It was only recently that it became known that the Chinese wargame developers had managed to avoid that trap.


Winning and losing is not the main goal of professional wargames, or military exercises. The Department of Defense has always insisted that wargames are not to be used, "to validate courses of action or specific tactics and techniques." In other words, testing tactics or "fighting to win" is not allowed, or at least not encouraged. Despite the generally accepted idea that a wargame is a competitive exercise, this is not the way it works in the Pentagon. The higher level wargames tend to be driven by procedures, not a war of wits on a simulated battlefield. While this sounds absurd, it's a long used practice. There is a purpose to this approach, and that is to make sure the hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of officers involved planning and carrying out a major operation, know the many procedures required to get such a large organization functioning smoothly. In effect, this kind of "wargame" is used to see if everyone can follow the same script. Winning or losing is measured by how well everyone communicates and executes administrative drills. Or, as the military puts it, the main objective is to perfect ones "tactical decision making process" (TDMP). Thus much Department of Defense wargaming results in showing our commanders and staffs how to lose neatly, rather than how to scrape and scramble to a victory. Real world battlefields favor the latter, peacetime perfectionists favor the former. Military training for officers concentrates on learning procedures, not investigating different, and perhaps better, tactics.


Thus it would appear that the Chinese wargames showing up in Chinese media were more about training staff officers to work together effectively. Other screen shots show games similar to Western wargames that operate more at a tactical level. No doubt Chinese troops, and junior officers, like their counterparts in the West, were using commercial wargames that showed what looked like battlefield video. These began showing up in the late 1990s giving the Chinese military plenty of time to incorporate them into official tactical training wargames.


The Chinese now use their wargames in much the same way Western armies do. A lot of wargaming is just to train staffs and commanders to work together while at lower (tactical) levels officers and troops learn tactics and what to avoid in combat.

Leadership: China Builds A Better Wargame
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25 septembre 2013 3 25 /09 /septembre /2013 17:20
Futures wargame prepares Army for 2030

September 24th, 2013 By Army News Service - defencetalk.com


The Army doesn’t know for sure what the global environment will look like around 2030, but it’s likely going to have to conduct operations then when called upon to do so.


To prepare for that time, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command conducted a Unified Quest Deep Futures Wargame at Carlisle Barracks, Pa., Sept. 16-20, 2013.


The wargame takes predictions about the future strategic environment, from insights that come from the National Intelligence Council 2030 study and other sources, including the Army’s own studies, and uses that environment as the foundation for two teams to independently wargame the same fictional futures scenario.


While the future strategic environment is something nobody can be 100 percent sure of, the Army’s wargame works on a futures model predicted by using 40 geostrategic, military, science, and technology trends.


Included in futures predictions are the effects of expanding nation states, non-state actors that include groups like Hezbollah and al Qaeda, non-government agencies and even large global corporations. Also included in futures predictions are the effects of climate change, shifting demographics, urbanization, information, and technological trends, said Maj. Gen. Bill Hicks, deputy director, Army Capabilities Integration Center.


“What you see in terms of the environment — because of this interconnection, which is also reflected in the globalized nature of our society and the increasing technological dependence of global society — [are] events unfolding more quickly,” Hicks said. “You see the second- and third-order effects of those events impacting on a wider scale in terms of having a global impact. That drives us to consider how do we influence those events at speed — arrest their acceleration, control those events and try to restore to some degree of stability an area that has gone ’tilt,’ if you will.”


One team involved in the wargame was equipped as today’s Army, as it is programmed to be in 2030. The other team is equipped with “things that are possible but not yet programmed into the Army,” Hicks said.


“One of the outcomes of the more technologically enabled force is that they can respond in the game more rapidly,” Hicks said. “They can cut the time in half, or maybe two-thirds. It allows the political leadership to respond very rapidly to something that is happening very quickly. If the event can be responded to over a longer period of time, what we are really doing is giving the president, the secretary and others more political space to maneuver.”


While the two teams worked through the challenges of a theoretical conflict more than 17 years in the future, and each used a different capability set, they were able to develop insights into how today’s Army can better prepare for an uncertain future.


This wargame, Hicks said, focuses on two operational issues; one of those is the “imperative of speed.” Key findings of the emerging operating environment is the “momentum of human interaction.” Hicks said that includes the information that can be amassed, and the ideas that can be shared by people through the use of technology, as well as the ability to organize and take action.


“That momentum is something we see accelerating into the future, which will compress the decision space of our political leadership, and will drive the imperative for Army forces to be able to respond to it and influence events at the speed at which they occur,” Hicks said. “This creates options both militarily, and, potentially, we should be able to provide more decision space back to our political leadership.”


New operational approaches are also a focus in the wargame, he said, in addition to “revisiting” old ones.


“Non-linear operations, such as what we saw when we conducted Just Cause in Panama, is something we’re looking at,” he said. “How do we do that on a more routine basis against a variety of different challenges?”


The outcome of a wargame such as the one conducted at Carlisle Barracks is the ability to help Army senior leadership of today chart a better course for the Army of tomorrow. Right now, Hicks said, the Army is spinning down from being an operational Army to one that is preparing, or getting ready for the next fight. He said being prepared means being ready for the next fight, and it also means laying the groundwork today that will help an Army in the future be ready to fight.


“There are a couple of things we can impact today that we will see the effects of in 2030 and 2040,” Hicks said. “The senior leaders of the Army in 2030-2040 are in the Army today. So we need to look at what are the implications and the things that we need to start doing today with the officers and non-commissioned officers that we have, to start educating them over time, so they are prepared to deal with that environment.”


Hicks also said the Army can start thinking now about what types of Soldiers it will need to fight in a future environment; what types of Soldiers it will need to recruit today and in the near future, in order to have a capable Army in 2030.


In addition to personnel issues, the Army must also lay the groundwork today to ensure the future Army has the tools and technology it will need. Hicks said that doesn’t necessarily mean buying new equipment today, or spelling out exactly what kinds of weapons are going to be needed. Instead, it means ensuring the Army remains committed to robust science and technology development.


“[It's] not predicting the systems the future force will need, but looking to make sure we are focusing our science and technology investments today so that in the mid-2020s, those leaders have more options to draw from as they reshape the force for that decade,” Hicks said.


While a “deep futures” wargame can’t truly predict what the strategic environment will look like, Hicks said already the Army is aware of some things it needs to focus on to be more prepared for the uncertainty that is going to come.


“It is to our advantage to be more involved in the international environment, working mil-to-mil relationships, enabling diplomatic, economic and information activities around the world, attracting partners, reassuring allies, creating deterrent structures to maintain a degree of balance strategically, and then through all those activities being postured to respond when that strategic balance is upset,” he said.


The goal of the Unified Quest Deep Futures Wargame, Hicks said, is to “inform decisions today so we can create options for tomorrow.”


The wargame will generate some “insights,” he said, that can be brought to Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, to better inform him on decisions he will make now to ensure the Army can be successful in the future.


“What we will be able to do is bring him some insights and help him think about the implications of this deep future, which really isn’t that far away; to inform his thinking on where he needs to make investments,” Hicks said.


Those investments in the future mean the right technology and the right kinds of people, Hicks said.

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