On Simulation-based Wargaming: Comparison of Two Different Methodological Approaches

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Information & Security: An International Journal, Volume 22, p.64-72 (2007)


Assumption-based Planning, Intuition-based Decision-making, Operational Wargaming, simulation, Tactical Wargaming, Wargaming


<p>Wargaming has been neglected within the German Forces for almost fifty years. Only within the last two years, two so-called &ldquo;Leitfaden&rdquo; (codes of best practice) have been developed. The first one, elaborated by members of the General Staff Academy, is intended for operational wargaming and fully rests on the tradi&shy;tional analytical comparison of different Courses of Action (CoA). Own and enemy CoAs are played against each other on the foundation of a game between two staff groups. Within this paradigm, simulations are used as evaluation tools. The rea&shy;soning is based on the premise that simulation systems are valid representations of reality. A successful simulation run is considered a corroboration of a particular course of action. The second &ldquo;Leitfaden,&rdquo; developed at the University of the Fed&shy;eral Armed Forces, is intended for so-called &ldquo;tactical wargaming.&rdquo; The two central concepts of this approach are intuition-based decision-making and assumption-based planning. The core rationale of this method is that all military planning and decision making is liable to what is called the &ldquo;fog of war.&rdquo; The irresolvable unpre&shy;dictability of future developments in all military operations is considered an insur&shy;mountable obstacle to all analytical approaches. This approach rests on the claim that pattern recognition and mental simulation of these patterns are the most valu&shy;able cognitive functions of expert decision makers. Within this paradigm, simula&shy;tions are used to support creativity, enhance imagination and trigger self-critical thinking. Simulation systems of complex systems are not necessarily regarded to be valid. This article discusses the pros and cons of the two approaches (&ldquo;Leitfaden&rdquo;) from both theoretical and practical perspective.</p>