From DSTL: Stuart Lyle on the Urban Operations Planner Course

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(photo credit: CA Army National Guard Public Affairs)

https://www.gov.uk/government/case-studies/stuart-lyle-international-knowledge-exchange-on-urban-warfare

Stuart Lyle of the UK Government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) writes about his experiences teaching and learning on the 40th Infantry Division Urban Operations Planner Course in July. I was really glad to meet Stuart and the lectures he gave were fantastic! He’s the one in the middle of the group, with the beard.

I also owe him a beer or three for helping me set up the game sets the night before we played the QUICK game, and for his introductory remarks before we started that set the context for the use of games in professional military education – he was far more articulate about it than I could ever be.

Consim Game Jam #2: 19-21 August 2022

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(everything starts with a prototype)

http://consimgamejam.com/

Consim Game Jam is a so-far-annual event where small groups of people from all over the world get together to create a wargame prototype, from start to finish, in 72 hours!

The last one was in October 2021 and the given theme was “Recycle an existing COIN game”. That is, using the physical components of a published GMT COIN system game, create a new design. This event shook 15 submissions out of the Idea Tree, and they are impressive in their variety and imagination.

http://consimgamejam.com/edition-1-submissions/

Now, the next one is scheduled for the weekend of August 19-21, 2022!

Theme hasn’t been announced yet, as far as I can find.

Go to the link at the top of the post, and/or register at this link to get further details.

http://consimgamejam.com/register/

I won’t be in this one, but I cannot wait to hear the theme and see what comes of this second exercise.

Connections North 2022: videos

The videos from the Connections North 2022 conference have been posted to Youtube.

One of them is me introducing a panel discussing “influence gaming”, with some remarks on two of my primitive efforts in that direction… Ukrainian Crisis and Kashmir Crisis.

REMARKS ON INFLUENCE GAMING 2022

Urban Operations Planner Course: story in the Digital Grizzly

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https://grizzly.shorthandstories.com/40thIDhostsweeklongUrbanOperationsPlannerCourse/index.html

A profusely illustrated story on the Urban Operations Planner Course in the Digital Grizzly, the  online version of the California National Guard magazine. (photos: California National Guard Public Affairs)

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Youtube channel: 40th ID Urban Warfare Center

The videos shot of the lectures during the recent Urban Operations Planners Course have been posted to the 40th Infantry Division Urban Warfare Center’s Youtube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF2zf038pwkv6N0mQfcskMw/videos

  • Non US Approaches
  • Information Warfare
  • Civil Affairs in Urban Operations
  • Protection in Urban Operations
  • Sustainment in Urban Operations
  • Intelligence in Urban Operations
  • Movement & Maneuver
  • Fires & Electronic Warfare in Urban Operations
  • C2 in Urban Operations
  • Subterranean Equipment /Tools
  • Subterranean Doctrinal Overview
  • Identify Threat Capabilities and Urban Tactics
  • Divisional Operational Approaches
  • The Liberation of Manila 1945
  • Joint Special Operations in Urban Environment (a long, entertaining talk by the very clever “Duc” Duclos)
  • Civil Military Integration in the Urban Operations Environment
  • Civilian Harm Mitigation (CHM) Practical Tools (one of two presentations by Ms. Sahr Muhammedally, an amazing person who has been at the centre of many major urban engagements and campaigns trying to prevent undue harm to civilians. This was a constant theme during the course.)
  • IPB in Urban (LTC Higgins, NYARNG)
  • Tools to Visualize the Urban Environment (goshwow presentation by technical folks from ESRI)
  • Urban Science: Trends in Urbanization Now and Into the Future (presented by the very smart Stuart Lyle of the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory)
  • Urban 101 (another introductory lecture by COL John Spencer)
  • Historical Trends (presented by MAJ Jayson Geroux of 1 RCR)
  • Why is Urban So Hard (presented by BG Wooldridge and COL Spencer, this was really the keynote of the course)
  • Law of War & Rules of Engagement (also by Ms. Sahr Muhammedally)

2022-02 Urban Operations Planner Course

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(photo: Jayson Geroux)

I’ve spent the last week attending the second serial of the Urban Operations Planners Course, run by the 40th Infantry Division (California Army National Guard) and held at Joint Force Training Base Los Alamitos. And what an interesting week it was!

A solid week of really great lectures and exercises on urban warfare, featuring people like COL John Spencer of the Modern War Institute’s Urban Warfare Project, Stuart Lyle of the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Dr. Jacob Stoil of the School of Advanced Military Studies, and MAJ Jayson Geroux of the Royal Canadian Regiment. I met a lot of really interesting students as well – most were Americans but there were also  students from the Australian, British, Chilean, Dutch, and German armies.

Unfortunately soon after I arrived at the Base I developed a bad summer cold that also turned into laryngitis… fortunately my voice recovered just in time, for the last day was a “learn by doing” exercise featuring group play of the Quick Urban Integrated Combat Kriegsspiel or QUICK, designed by yours truly… I’ve been working on it since last December.

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It landed very very well; the 40 students seemed really engaged by it. Also, about 20 remote students played online at the same time, using a VASSAL module produced by Curt Pangracs at the Command General and Staff College.

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(Of course people got to use their Military Pointing Skills!)

This was the first time I had the opportunity to teach a game, any game, to a large group of people, many of whom were non-gamers. Fortunately I had a set of great facilitators including faculty from the Joint Special Operations University, Stuart Lyle and students and instructors of the course. It never would have worked without them!

The QUICK now joins the range of free print-and-play games I offer on this website; it’s available to everyone – files are on this separate page: The QUICK Page

However, be aware that I will soon be making some small changes and revisions to the game rules and charts due to feedback and comments from the students.

Me and BG

Me and BGEN Robert Wooldridge, Deputy Commander of 40ID, sponsor of the course and avid wargamer himself.

Coming up: Connections Online 2022

https://www.armchairdragoons.com/acdcons/connections/

Hey all!

Next week will see the 2022 edition of Connections Online, the second iteration of the purposely online version of the long-standing Connections franchise of conferences. As such it joins Connections-US, Connections-UK, Connections North, Connections Oz, and so forth in trying to create lasting, uh, connections between the hobby and professional wargaming worlds.

Core events are 19-21 April, with a series of extended events to either side 18-24 April.

The theme this year is “Developing Wargame Practitioners.” Panels on this topic include:

  • Recent Innovations in Wargaming
  • Hiring new Wargamers
  • Designing a Professional Wargame
  • Resources for Professional Development of Wargamers
  • Wargamer Professional Certification: Necessary or Not? (a perennial favourite!)
  • Wargaming outside the National Security Space

Lots of other things to see and do as well! I plan to attend events on Innovations in Hobby Wargaming, Wargaming Other than War, and Wargaming Politics.

Cost is $5.00 to attend the whole thing, everything else is free but you have to get a ticket to attend an event. Core events such as I have listed above will be posted on Youtube later, but the extended events will likely not.

Please plan to attend!

Urban warfare: 40ID’s new webpage

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https://calguard.ca.gov/40id-urban-warfare

The US 40th Infantry Division (headquartered in California but responsible for National Guard units from Nebraska to Guam) is becoming the centre for development of training and doctrine in urban operations. Last summer they ran the first serial of the Urban Warfare Planners course (More on the Urban Warfare Planners Course) and will do it again in July 2022.

This new webpage is a great resource for manuals, case studies, links to other resources, and yes even a page for civilian market wargames on urban combat (District Commander: Maracas gets a look in, and there’s more to come).

Check it out!

Podcast: Armchair Dragoons

https://www.armchairdragoons.com/podcast/mentioned-in-dispatches-season-8-ep-6-looking-back-at-wargames-on-ukraine

Brant Guillory invited me on his regular podcast Mentioned in Dispatches recently.

Together with his regular partner in broadcasting Mike, we talk about games postulating war in Ukraine and how they seem to be largely inapplicable, or got it wrong.

I did Ukrainian Crisis in 2014 of course; and Brant designed Orange Crush, an operational level kinetic combat game about action around Lviv, in 2007.

But we talk about other things too….

Ukrainian Crisis: tableflip

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Why I am not writing a 2022 scenario for Ukrainian Crisis

Well, I admit I was wrong.
After all, I’m not a freakin’ wizard.

I maintain though, that a 2022 scenario for this game would have been out of place anyway, for an overt invasion of Ukraine on this scale and extent is an admission that the other two sub-games have been lost, and in this case perhaps not even seriously played.

In that sense it’s a tableflip, and I still don’t see a point in constructing a scenario for that; find a different game.

And as I have said in the previous post, if somebody wants a war, they will get it… and now there is one, and it will be a disaster for all concerned.

There were many ways to accomplish Russian objectives; this is a poor one, possibly the worst course they could try.

And now that the table has been flipped and the pieces are headed for the floor, at this point I would not even try to guess the ultimate outcome.

One Facebook group I read is “Radio War Nerd”, a follow-on from the very entertaining and insightful War Nerd columns written over the years by “Gary Brecher”. One of the administrators is Mark Ames, who has posted the following today: 

When you’re wrong, you’re wrong.

 

I was wrong about Putin’s strategic intentions, wrong with a good crowd that’s been very useful to me over many years, and continue to be — people like exiled dissident journalists Leonid Bershidsky and Leonid Ragozin, along with a lot of other Russians and gone-native Russia-watchers who got this wrong. We — I — held to assumptions based on watching, reporting, researching, living in & thinking about Russia over the past few decades. (I should say that we all disagree on a lot of stuff, the Leonids for example are far more viscerally anti-Kremlin than I, and more sympathetic to the Maidan revolution, but none of us believed this is the sort of thing that fits Putin’s profile). Anyway, those assumptions no longer work, and I’m not going to pretend I’ve already got it figured out which assumptions will work from here on out.

 

 
This time it’s the very worst ghouls who got it right for once in their sleazy careers, after getting everything wrong without fail since the start of the century. There’s Robert Kagan, Vicky Nuland’s husband, who just published a big piece a couple of days ago in the WaPo about the impending mass invasion. Normally I’d take that as the final proof that Putin was about to do the very opposite of what Kagan predicted—if Kagan predicts invasion, experience says it really means Putin is about to quit the Kremlin to join Code Pink. The Kagan Clan and the Atlantic Council get paid for being wrong, but I suspect they’ll get extra bonuses from their sponsors for getting something right for once (and for helping catalyze the current shitshow by designing Biden’s hawkish Ukraine policy a year ago, which we’ve gone over).

 

God knows I don’t want to absolve Putin in any way here. It’s true that the US and NATO are big partners in this nightmare; they’ve done all they could to provoke a crisis assuming they could slowly creep and bleed it out, and when the Kremlin gave extra- serious signals last year that something big would happen, Biden responded with the same feckless diplomacy and distracted attention that’s characterized his Admin’s zombified domestic political program, whatever’s left of it anyway. I think Putin, who has clearly built up a volcano’s worth of grievances, understood Biden’s feckless inertia as an active fuck you, and Putin was clearly waiting for just that. He wants to bomb big, and Ukraine is the live demonstration board. Putin has all the “agency” imaginable here. He could have chosen a whole range of responses, none of them pretty, but none of them anywhere near as violent and dangerous and widespread as this one. This is what he wants; the US provoked, but it’s Putin, and very much not-metonymy Putin but Putin with his supporters, who is bombing the shit out of Ukraine. My family has good friends in Kiev; one of my wife’s best friends is huddling with her 3 children in their apartment as I’m writing this, too afraid to go out to the nearest bomb shelter, and her ex-husband is too afraid to come help with the children, he’s huddling in his apartment building. Most of my wife’s close friends from Moscow came from Ukraine, so it’s just hard to fathom. Полный пиздец.

The world is going to be a much much worse place for everyone. No lessons will be learned. Or rather, only the worst lessons will be learned, by and for the worst people. US intelligence credibility restored; neocon credibility restored; progressive agendas, such as they were still possible, gone; the GOP is going to pillory Biden and the Dems as weak, as taken advantage of by Putin, turning Russiagate on its ugly head. NATO’s gonna get very extra NATO. Ukraine is fucked. The worse, the worse-er, all around.

 

 

This invasion didn’t come from nothing, but I thought there would be more of something else before this. Mea culpa.