Not for the fainthearted or casual reader, the Fϋhrungsakademie guide to the preparation and execution of Wargames is a very detailed and useful guide to COA Wargaming. Note that the document title should read ‘Course of Action’ Wargaming rather than just ‘Wargaming’.
It is recommended reading for anyone who will be running COA Wargames. (Download here)
The industry-wide lack of understanding of the different types of wargame and their uses is concerning. There is a recent trend within the British military to equate the term ‘wargame’ solely with a Course of Action Wargame. Worse yet, many people assume that there is a one size fits all solution, which is fundamentally wrong. No-one would countenance the idea that the single term ‘exercise’ could describe all the various activities that fall under that heading, so it is with ‘wargame’.
No-one would describe a military activity just using the term ‘exercise’. These can be as diverse as an adventure training exercise, a pairs live-firing exercise, a unit’s Mission Rehearsal Exercise and a formation-level Command Post Exercise – to name just a few. This is not just a matter of semantics; the type of exercise fundamentally affects how that event is planned and executed. Obviously.
The same applies to the many different types and uses of wargame. Remembering, always, that the wargame is not just the supporting simulation (if there is one).
Course of Action wargames, seminar wargames and Theatre wargames are just as diverse as any of the types of exercise mentioned above. So, to, are wargames that support the activities in the lowest tier of boxes in the diagram below (discussed on the What is wargaming page).
As mentioned, this is not just semantics. The approach to designing, developing and executing the various types of wargame to support diverse activities is fundamentally different in each case. See, for example, just the design steps for a wargame in the training domain as opposed to one in the analytical domain outlined on the How we do it page.
We must do better at differentiating and then defining these different types of wargame. Until we clarify our thinking the notion of a ‘one size fits all’ will continue to prevail – to the detriment of those we purport to support; troops on operations.