A Force More Powerful

b4s93

Akito and I made a large version of Battle of Seattle with dollar-store miniatures… the cops came ready-made, we repurposed some of them as protestors.

https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Journals/Military-Review/English-Edition-Archives/May-June-2020/Chambers-Beehner-Competing-Below

Quite fresh from the pages of Military Review, an interesting article on nonviolent action and how it has been and can be harnessed to drive opposition to foreign regimes.

A good quick introduction to techniques, advantages and examples of its use. Written from the perspective of “hey, this is a great force multiplier for the USA”, but the point is taken… and still effective. The concluding paragraph:

The U.S. military must look past its institutional biases toward large-scale combat operations, and in line with MDO [Multi-Domain Operations], truly look toward converging political and military capabilities across multiple domains to create windows of advantage.54 If we look at future conflict through the lens of most likely and most dangerous, the most likely form is low-intensity, gray-zone type conflict. In these types of conflicts, third-party nonviolent intervention is a viable course—within its constraints—which allows nations to achieve strategic objectives without resorting to large-scale troop deployments, and in some cases, maintaining plausible deniability. As the ubiquitous “small wars” continue and the U.S. military prioritizes preparation for large-scale, decisive-action type conflict, policy makers need a capability to limit U.S. entanglement while still achieving strategic objectives. Support for nonviolent action fills this niche, and consequently, deserves recognition and resources.

PDF of the article is available at the link above, Military Review also has a collection of interesting past articles on civil disobedience, Colour Revolutions and “democratic coups”:

https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Special-Topics/Hot-Topics/Coups-CR/

And just to tie this back into gaming, there are a couple of computer games on the topic.

Image: ICNC.

People Power: the game of civil resistance, a free game for Windows or Mac from the International Centre on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC).

http://peoplepowergame.com

Rex Brynen on on Paxsims reviewed it in 2011, the game was revised in 2015.

https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2011/08/07/people-power/

People Power is the sequel to A Force More Powerful, an older game on the topic of colour revolutions that uses Gene Sharp’s writings as a basis and came out some time ago as a companion to the 1999 documentary of the same name (available on Youtube). The latter game is abandonware and Windows only; I snagged a copy in a local thrift store years ago.  Rex and colleague Gary Milante were less than impressed by its sedate pace.

https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2009/02/03/a-force-more-powerful/

https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2009/03/16/a-force-more-tedious/

 

Chile ’73: review at Paxsims

c73 tbp cover

Over at the redoubtable Paxsims blog, Rex Brynen and students try Chile ’73 and find they like it!

I’m not sure I would ever use it to teach about Latin American history. It is, however, a terrific design with very different pre- and post-phase phases, and it does get at the uncertainties and strategic considerations characteristics of successful and unsuccessful military takeovers.

https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2018/05/01/review-chile-73

“As you know, Bob,” Chile 73 is a historically-themed version of my multi-player, hidden-agenda and -information game Palace Coup, which is itself an extensive re-do of Power Play, one of the very first games I designed… back in 1991. But the basic concept of very different pre-coup and coup phases was there from the beginning. And it joins the very small group of games that deal with the coup d’etat:

https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/gaming-military-coups/

Rex is certainly right, I would not ever use this to teach about Latin American history either. Almost all coups are very unbalanced affairs, by design, and succeed or fail in a matter of hours.

In Chile 73 game terms the actual coup of 9/11/73 in Santiago would see about a dozen Army units including at least one Tactical air unit,  plus one or two Paramilitary units, sitting in different objective areas while Allende and the GAP (his personal bodyguard) are in the Palace. Whoosh, one big attack backed up by the Tac air and the defenders are eliminated.  This  doesn’t make much of a game, which is why we try to make something interesting of the pre-coup phase.

RB @ DSTL

20160701_ukranian-crisis-01_web_o

(photo of Ukrainian Crisis in play, from Paxsims website)

Over at the Paxsims blog, Rex Brynen tells about a recent and very busy week spent at the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL):

https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2016/08/02/dstl-wargaming-trip-report-or-i-visited-portsdown-west-and-all-i-got-was-this-lousy-mug/

Among many other things, people played a series of games to explore “hybrid warfare”, including LCOL Dave Barsness’ Kaliningrad 2017, Volko Ruhnke’s Labyrinth, and my own Ukrainian Crisis.

Rex concludes matrix games FTW for analyzing this form of warfare, at least for the broad strokes, and I would tend to agree. But here’s the typical Brynen wit:

Ironically, one of the problems of a matrix game approach is that it does not require a great deal of preparation, nor need it involve a great deal of materials and complexity. This makes it an unattractive proposition for defence contractors and consultants since product creation and delivery generates relatively few billable hours. Similarly, a sponsor may feel that it does not seem enough of a tangible product compared with a more complex, traditional wargame.

Hm! Words to live by, I guess… though a poorly prepared and executed matrix game is just as much a failure as a poorly done game of another type.

MORS Workshop on Professional Gaming, 28 September – 1 October

Hopefully not as illustrated.

Week after next I am heading out for a few days in Fairfax, Virginia, to co-facilitate a working group at the Military Operations Research Society’s (MORS) Workshop on Professional Gaming.

http://www.mors.org/Events/Special-Meetings/Professional-Gaming-Workshop

Wargames used for analytic purposes have been around almost as long as operations research, maybe even longer if you are flexible about the word “analysis”. Many of the members of MORS are military, or civilians working for the military, with backgrounds in math, computer science or engineering so the games they produce and use tend to be quite technical and numbers-based, with results to a specific question validated by data. But there are also others in the organization, often with social science backgrounds, who struggle with the more qualitative side of contemporary problems and questions. More and different methods of looking at these problems through games are being used, and I think that’s where my contribution to this workshop will lie… games for analysis are a bit out of my line of country, but they still have to work as games, which in this case are a particular kind of model I have some experience building. It’s all in how you frame the problem, right….

The workshop will have eight working groups, and I will be working in the “Quick-Turnaround Game Development” one – plan is to take the participants from idea to (at least partially) playtested design, on a topic of their choice, within 36 hours. The inestimable Rex Brynen of Paxsims will be there too!

We’ll also have a chance to show and demonstrate some new game designs. I will be bringing demo copies of

  • Algeria (140-counter rework of first design on Algeria, for OSS Games’ Folio line)
  • Binh Dinh 69 (Vietnam 1969, for OSS Games as well)
  • Caudillo
  • Colonial Twilight
  • District Commander Kandahar
  • Guerrilla Checkers (free copies to give away)
  • Third Lebanon War
  • Ukrainian Crisis (have made some changes to the design recently, will post later)

I hope there’ll be room for all that lot, and clothes too… otherwise I’ll have to bring some binder clips, and use the hotel sheets and blankets instead.

Also, Rex will be demonstrating his very clever humanitarian aid/ disaster relief game Aftershock, and possibly ISIS Crisis as well, to introduce people to the idea of matrix games.

Will be a busy but fun week!