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"Communicating Uncertainty in Wargaming Outcomes" Topic

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297 hits since 30 Mar 2017
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Tango0130 Mar 2017 10:19 p.m. PST

"In late 1990, Frank Chadwick, the president of Game Designers Workshop, received a letter from an Army soldier deployed to the Middle East. The letter described how the members of his unit were huge fans of the printed, commercial wargames developed by Chadwick's company. The letter also described an exigent need for which they were seeking immediate help. They wanted to purchase another copy of a particular, hard-to-get wargame. During game play there in the desert, a sandstorm had blown away the board and all the pieces. It turned out that as tensions continued to rise in in the Persian Gulf, this unit had made tactical wargaming part of their everyday preparation for the imminent combat operations.

This is just one of many anecdotes in the upcoming book, On Wargaming, by Matt Caffrey. In it, he describes that the use of wargames varies widely, from the tactical example above to the most strategic, especially in the lead-up to Desert Storm. At each of these levels, leaders from the company commander to the President used the outcome of these wargames to support decisions, but the conclusions drawn from these wargames vary as widely as the level of their use. At the tactical level, we have detailed, quantitative information about weapons effectiveness, troop numbers, and terrain. We can analyze the outcomes of these wargames with our most powerful analytic tools.

At the strategic level, however, the outcomes are not so tidy. The Persian Gulf War illustrates this profoundly and serves as an historical example of the most comprehensive and effective use of wargames in US history. Surprisingly, some of Caffrey's most profound findings about wargaming and Desert Storm are not conclusions. Instead, they are questions…"
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