War Games: Why They Don’t Work

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Mon, Nov 24 - 9:00 am EST | 4 years ago by
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Lines of Departure - War Games

And so, as we saw in the last column, in the course of 1983’s Command Post War Game, in Panama, our borderline sociopathic hero – or maybe he was just naturally difficult, a natural son of a bitch, shall we say? – Lieutenant Reilly, has knocked off the government of Panama, plus the chain of command for the Panama Defense Force, and gained permission to start a series of riots, all in the happy knowledge that, Americans being Americans, all the troops actually capable of dealing with a riot (and the 193d was probably the only unit in the Army capable of dealing with a riot1) are off in the jungle hunting guerillas.

At first, as mentioned last column, there are just five yellow pins stuck in the map, four by Reilly on the Pacific side, one by the OPFOR player for the Atlantic side. In another half hour there are ten of them. Then twenty… forty… eighty… one thousand, two hundred and eighty, representing over a hundred and twenty thousand rioters, plus women.2 And then Reilly and the player on the Atlantic side start moving them.

From Arraijan comes only about one hundred pins. But that’s ten thousand rioters with two fully armed infantry platoons concealed among them. They’re mostly civilians, not well organized, so they walk slowly. Their numbers increase as they move along. Within three hours the gate and security police of Howard Air Force Base are gone. The rioters swarm the airfield. Different groups also swarm the field at Albrook, Coco Solo-France Field, on the Atlantic side, the main airport at Tocumen, Paitilla (where, about six years later the SEALs got shot up rather badly)… you get the idea. And then the buildings start to burn. The brigade is desperately trying to move troops back by helicopter but, as predicted, they can’t… and the fuel facilities are soon lost.

There are aircraft in the air, providing support. But when their airfields are overrun by “peaceful, non-violent demonstrators,” they have no place to go. There are A7s and AC-130s in the air… with no place to go.

The Air Force major, a pilot controlling all the air power in play, comes to Reilly and asks, “What are those pins on my airfield?”

“Rioters, sir, to the tune of about fifteen thousand or so, at this point.”

“Well move them, I need to land an AC-130.”

“No, sir.”


“No, sir. They’re part of the game. You’ll have to move them. No; not that way, sir! I mean you have to get them to move as part of the game.”

So the Air Force major brings out a couple of water cannon, the fire trucks that serviced the airfield. The rioters get moved around some, but two water cannon are not going to keep the airfield cleared. “No, sir, they’re not going far. Hell, it’s hot in Panama and the water would actually be kind of pleasant.” Reilly is laughing at the flyboy’s frustration. He’s obviously never even imagined this.

The pilot tries to move the rioters by having the jets and AC-130s fly low. This moves them around, but does not move them away.

“By the way, sir, how much fuel have they got left? How much time in the air? For each?” Upon hearing the figures, Reilly consults his watch and smiles.

“I’ll use tear gas!”

Reilly answers, with a smirk, “Have authorization from the president, sir? That’s what it takes to use RCA3. And besides, did your guys draw any? No, huh? Keep any on hand in the bunker line west of the airfield? Again, no, huh? Well, then, all the RCA is at Rodman ASP4. How do you propose to get to it, with the roads blocked by thousands of rioters?”

The conversation continues in this vein, with the major getting more desperate and Reilly getting more obnoxious with each proposal he shoots down. Eventually Reilly ends up standing on a folding chair, hence towering over the Air Force guy, who was kind of short, anyway, jumping up and down, laughing hysterically, as he pointed at and ridiculed the major.

“I’ll have the gunships open fire!”

Jump, jump. Point, point. Laugh, laugh. “Still need that presidential authorization, which will never come, in the real world. And you’ll be set for court-martialed within days, as will any crew that opens fire on unarmed civilians.”

“But some of them are armed!”

Jump, point, laugh. Jump, point, laugh. “Not enough to save you from a court-martial!” Jump, point, laugh. Jump, point, laugh.

Finally, in a huff, the Air Force major stomps off. Got to tell you, I lost a lot of respect for USAF officers as a class when this one failed to lock Reilly’s heels and explain the rules of military life to him. That, and I learned that you can generally get away with whatever you act like you can get away with.

Reilly consults his watch, then tells the Observer-Controller, “That’s AC-130 is now out of fuel. Crash it, please.” An AC-130 pin is duly removed from the map. “That one over there has about eighteen minutes…”

Then Reilly went back to the map to supervise the continuing, escalating riot, and the burning of the Canal Zone to the water line, before it’s time for his shift to end. He’s made substantial progress when he briefs his relief, too.


He came back eleven hours later and it was all gone, no crashed airports and crashed airplanes. No trashed cities, no trashed bases. No rioters, no riots. No Chiva-chivas; no attack on the presidential palace. But the 79th Army Band pin was still there in the Palace of the Herons, in Panama City. It seems one of the senior colonels in the brigade (there were some twenty-eight of them, at least twenty eight important enough to have their name on the brigade wiring diagram) had come in, seen the plan was trashed, seen the impossibility of the US position for the defense of the Canal, seen the war was lost, and ordered everything reset to before that first “Viva!” was sounded. That colonel may have agreed that it was all very realistic, from the band to the buses to the booms of the mortars and the boom boxes of the riots… but it didn’t matter.

And that’s pretty much why war games don’t work – are not permitted to work – for this kind of thing. War gives vast scope for human ingenuity, innovativeness, and initiative. It’s one of war’s few appealing points for its practitioners. A war game, on the other hand, that gives that kind of scope will come up with uncomfortable answers. It happened in Panama, in 1983. It happened at the War College, at Carlisle Barracks, PA, in 2004. It may have happened aboard Yamato, in May 1942, prior to the battle of Midway. A war game that fails to give the expected answers will simply be discounted and discarded. A war game that makes of those expectations something for ridicule will be discarded with extreme prejudice.


1 I may someday explain the reasons for that, here. For now, suffice to say that a) the brigade took riot control as seriously as it took anything, and it took everything involving violence seriously, b) a typical exercise for RC would lead to as much as 20% of the troops involved needing hospitalizations, or c) at least to have some broken bones set and casted, and d) because of the seriousness of the training it basically dumped Field Manual 3-19, Civil Disturbance Operations, as mere intellectual fantasy, the product of minds either diseased, or clueless, or both.

2 The addition of women to a riot is important. As soon as the riot control force seizes a female, the overwhelmingly male portion suddenly remember why they have the protuberant reproductive organs, and more muscle, and becomes extremely aggressive and violent. One might say it becomes a matter of pride then.

3 Riot Control Agents, CS, CN, that sort of thing.

4 Ammunition Supply Point.

Don’t miss last week’s column: Why War Games Fail.

Tom Kratman is a retired infantry lieutenant colonel, recovering attorney, and science fiction and military fiction writer. His latest novel, The Rods and the Axe, is available from Amazon.com for $9.99 for the Kindle version, or $25 for the hardback. A political refugee and defector from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, he makes his home in Blacksburg, Virginia. He holds the non-exclusive military and foreign affairs portfolio for EveryJoe. Tom’s books can be ordered through baen.com.

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  • Ronald Homer

    One of the key points here is that this Panama wargame, as written, was apparently designed to play out as a guerilla warfare game over the course of several days. That means that crashing the game early with a non-standard tactic ruins the (intended) training value of that particular wargame.

    You CAN design a different flavor of wargame, where it’s not about training junior officers to make detailed troop movements, but is instead intended to raise uncomfortable what-if questions about things like popular rioters in the wrong place and time. however, that requires a very specific intent when you begin scheduling the game.

    For example, The National Security Decision Making game is a 4-6 hour game for 20-80 people, where we try to do those types of “uncomfortable what if” questions on the national political level, over the course of 4-6 years of simulated time

    When you run those sorts of games with multiple countries, and pick especially unstable countries, you get very interesting results in the long term. Like a 20% chance of military coup if anything goes wrong in a particular country, or the realization that even if you sign a treaty with the elected moderates in Iran, the Ultra-conservative military factions are likely to just ignore it and keep smuggling weapons into syria anyway.

    The senior NSDM staff has been complaining for years now that the US should really run a dozen iterations of this sort of game before doing anything adventurous, like invading Iraq or Afghanistan. Not because the game will accurately predict what will happen, but because it WILL raise very uncomfortable questions about what MIGHT go wrong, and whether or not a contingency plan exists for that..

    I’ll look up your summary of “the purposes of training”, and see if i can adapt that description for “the purposes of wargames”.

    • Ronald Homer

      here we go, found your list at http://www.baen.com/WarTraining-Part1.asp

      “Axiom One: The functions of training, the reasons we train, and all training can do for us, boil down to five things: Skill Training, Conditioning, Development, Selection, and Testing of Doctrine and Equipment.”

      wargames work the same way. it’s extremely rare that you could meet all five goals of training in one wargame, but there are different types of games that can fulfill each goal.

      Skill Training can be done with something like Close Combat Marines: it’s a decent computer game for teaching platoon-level tactics, and while it’s not a replacement for live training with a human platoon, it’s a lot easier to schedule and can be played with fewer people. it’s good for teaching junior NCO’s and officer candidates the basic of fire and manuever.

      Conditioning for long-term behavior or outlook is just as difficult in wargames as it is in real training: The best you can do there is probably a rewarding good sportsmanship and adherence to the stated goals of each game type, plus occasional Kobiyashi-maru type games, where the goal is remain sane and competent, and deal with ruinous surprises that arrive in context of the game, rather than breaking character and attacking the game itself.

      Development of leadership, in the context of wargames, is mainly about your ability to communicate clearly with your superior/subordinate teammates, and to learn how to reason within the context the game. You can do that by playing games set in different time periods, where the player has to learn the different rules of combat for that game and era, and then reason which tactics to use within that game system. You can also do it with randomized opponent games, where the player doesn’t neccessarily KNOW what the enemy’s strength or weaknesses are, and has to cautiously discover that information and react to it during the course of the game. Finally, with really open-ended seminar games, you can present a vague ‘real-world’ scenario to the player, then force him to reason out what options SHOULD be available to him in a plausible reality, then persuade the referee to allow those options to be deployed. or figure out how to improvise if those options are denied for some reaosn.

      Selection, in the context of wargames, only really makes sense if you’re testing for basic attitude and intelligence, and don’t have a better source of data available from real-life unit leadership or academics. I’m inclined to say that Selection is only relevant if you’re either screening cadets before allowing them to enter the academy, or else running highly suspect careerists through a kobayashi-maru type scenario, to see which ones simply cannot handle the reality change.

      The most interesting field where wargames really shine is Doctrine testing. This is also the area where the US army seems to have shown the least historic interest. In Doctrine wargames, the point is generate frightening questions, which may reveal weaknesses in your plans which will need to be explored after the game. Doctrine wargames need to include a fundamental level of uncertainty in terms of what or is not possible, what could or could not happen. The goal there is begin with a plausible action or scenario, and allow the opposition players to develop semi-reasonable, but relatively unexpected, responses. Then you play the game through until the consequences of the opposition action become relatively clear. once you’ve done it once, you reset the board and do it again. and again.

      At the end of a doctrine testing game, you have a long list of what might plausibly go wrong, and how well prepared you currently are for each item on the list. once the games are done, you have to start listing how likely each of the worst-case scenarios really are, and what reasonable preperations need to made for each of them. If the game participants are honest, it can also occassionally reveal that the emperor has no clothes…. for example, if a simulation of the invasion of Iraq concludes that (A), 90% of games end in some version of a plausible insurgency, and (B), the existing political warplans blatantly assume that an insurgency is impossible.

    • Tom Kratman

      I did a column a while back (hmmm…here it is: http://www.everyjoe.com/2014/09/22/politics/against-fire-wargame-that-was-never-adopted/ ) that probably ought be read in pari materia with this one. There are just some inherent limits and flaws to wargaming for most of the purposes. For example: “You want admin-log play? Fine, but that will slow the game down so much no admin-log issues will be generated, so why bother?” Then there are the human issues the military is effectively forbidden from raising for political-aesthetic reasons. Then there are the behind the scenes Lanchester Equations, of which I am not a fan, as being preposterous in their own right, typical intellectual fantasy. Then there’s the I-go, you-go mechanic, that gives an undue legitimacy to things like decision cycle theory.

      One of the better uses for wargames, actually, is when, in small group like, say, the company commanders of a battalion get together and play together regularly, the members of the group learn to understand how the others think. This can pay dividends in terms of being able to predict and support each other, without the need for extensive communication and coordination, and without the need for initiatve-strangling drill.

    • http://batman-news.com Rick Randall

      I have found that, at the small unit leader level at least, competitive social interaction with the peers one will be working with yelds good dividends in getting everyone inside each others heads. Pool, cards, darts, sports, etc. — people tend to have analogous responses.

      Which is how I got my head handed to me by older, wiser, NCOs my first field exercise as a squad leader where they led the OPFOR I was attacking. Knowing I was a hyper aggressive prick who wants to donkey punch the opposition, they were able to suck me in by showing me what I thought was a perfect weakness. Meanwhile, they managed to sandbag one of my compadres who preferred a more nuanced approach by showing him a “textbook” situation, while they snuck around and prison raped him in his ORP right as he moved out for the final approach. Both setups were calculated on our personalities, based on what they had observed in us at beer-thirty.

      And both of us learned to moderate our basic instincts.

      Last time I spoke with JRTC cadre members, the 82nd & 101st *still* have (apparently institutional) flaws that allow the cadre to sucker them in much the same way each time.

    • Tom Kratman

      The problem with sports is that they tend to become political competitions between and among CSMs and colonels, and lose their value – indeed, become of negative value – as winning gets elevated over team building and the things become semi-professional in the interests of winning. NB, Eton had no playing fields till a couple of decades, IIRC, _after_ Waterloo, so the battle wasn’t won on them.

      Actually, for all the virtues of the old 193rd in Panama – and they were many – it had two _huge_ vices. One was that it was preposterously overofficered at brigade level. There were reasons for that – it was in some ways a mini corps, and structured to expand quickly from a huge brigade (7200 men or so) to a huge division, by the addition of the Florida and Puerto Rico National Guards, plus whatever was TPFDLed in from the Regular Army in the States. Also, when dealing with overofficered Latin armies, poltically one had to present them with “peers.” Still, 28 full bulls and a like number of LTCs important enough to have a telephone was just too damned much.

      Reading the wiring diagram and counting colonels was, as an XO, my little trick for putting myself in a really bad move to administer an ass chewing

      The other flaw was semi-professional sports, almost as bad as in Hawaii. It was, I think, a relic of the depression era Army that just never went away. I used to say that if you ever wondered wnat happened to the old, brown shoe, colonial Army, that, for good or ill, it packed its bags and moved to the Canal Zone. Forex, when’s the last time you saw a soldier wearing and old fashioned, tropical pith helmet? You could find them in some odd places in Panama, into the late 70s.

      Wargames, however, especially when conducted informally, with banter and fun and free flowing booze, didn’t have those flaws.

    • http://batman-news.com Rick Randall

      Not organized, official unit sports.

      Informal, off duty stuff.

      “Mandatory fun time” sucks. I’d rather be training.

    • Tom Kratman

      Oh, you would have loved my first speech to my rifle company. The pertinent section of it went, “No enemy soldier has ever been killed by a baseball, football, volleyball, tennis ball or racket, hockey puck or stick…”

    • Tom Kratman

      It really wasn’t scripted, though, as I think you mean it, nor intended to be scripted. Among the things it was intended to do was test our plans for defense of the Canal, and the game was flexible enough, as shown (at least given an imaginative OPFOR) to do that. If memory served, too, it did cover things like riot control, if not how to create riots in the first place. But the control couldn’t be just assumed, troops were needed. And those, as mentioned, were elsewhere.

    • Ronald Homer

      if the game was supposed to test for things like vulnerability to riots or prepardness for dealing with riots, and the senior officer refused to allow that particular lesson to be learned, then yes, that’s a pretty major problem. I was mistakenly assuming that riots were not originally part of the game’s intended scope.

    • Tom Kratman

      _Those_ riots were not. The game envisioned (and it’s been over 30 years so it’s pretty fuzzy now) that there might be demonstrations and riots (and those might have been scripted in, at least I can’t recall any set rules for creating them or for when they would spontaneously erupt) and had rules for dealing with them. This, though, was several orders of magnitude greater riots than i think anyone imagined, the size and virulence being driven by the destruction of the civil government there and the chain of command of the military there. I don’t think Reilly would have tried to start that huge a set of riots but for those things, nor that his battalion commander would have let him but for those things.

    • Ronald Homer

      which raises the question of what the game’s end-conditions were.

      In a perfect world, those mega riots would be ruled an unlikely but not impossible outcome, the referee would announce the the game had now gone so far beyond the intended scope that it was no longer playable, and the opforce would declare victory before restarting the game at the beginning, with a new semi-random starting position.

      but that assumes the game was intended to be replayable several times during the course of the event. if the game’s end-condition was that it would be played straight through over the course of a week or so, and then a new game held in six months time… that becomes very difficult to restart the game halfway, and you lose most the planned training value if the second half of the game is derailed by a highly unusual event. then you have to come up with a semi-plausible excuse to correct the de-railment.

      although really, if a board game is so tightly limited that you CAN’T AFFORD to vary from the intended script, and the game can’t be replayed to explore alternate tactics, you’ve lost most of the point of HAVING such a game. You’re just playing through a real-life rigid drill, without the sole benefit of rigid drill, which is the chance to physically practice real-life actions.

    • Tom Kratman

      I don’t believe the game had any planned end conditions, though I am quite sure nobody planned on losing that fast. Because of the demand for log and admin play, plus the demand for it being played in real time (another common flaw to military wargaming), not enough was going to happen – or, at least, could normally be expected to happen – in the amount of time that could be given to it, a week or so, twice a year.

    • http://blog.timp.com.au TimP

      In that scenario I would have been tempted to do the same thing on the board as the controller/ref had done. The difference would be that I would say something like: “It’s obvious that in the unlikely* event of the decapitation of the Panamanian Government and Military joined with the unlikely* event of large scale riots the military situation in the Canal Zone becomes untenable.”

      And then I’d schedule a meeting for next week with various officers, including at least Lt. Reilly and some of the other involved officers, to discuss what can be done to make this less likely, or counter-act it if it does occur. An easy idea from your description would be making sure that RCA is available to the airbase security teams for example.

      * With a security plan that’s based on bluff it’s probably a good idea to emphasis that any failure requires a fair bit of bad luck; whether that’s strictly true or not.

  • leaperman621@yahoo.com

    I have never believe most GAMES could approximate..and when they come close the peter principle kicks in.

    • Tom Kratman

      They ran a series of games for students at the infantry school that were really superb. However, those games were _extremely_ personnel intensive, and, while new for each class using them, routine enough for the cadre that they didn’t need a lot of set up time. They were not, therefore, broadly replicable in the field.

  • James

    Sorta like the war game where a marine sank a Nimitz and roughed up its fleet with FAC’s, and such easily available to most of our enemies but the Navy just said NO and showed how much their training was worth.

  • Neil

    There’s something that’s been bugging me about these stories, and I finally figured it out.

    War games, of the sort featured in this story, are somewhat analogous to a design review in the engineering field. You could argue that they’re more analogous to validation by simulation, but wargames are so low-fidelity that they’re not so much a simulation as they are like presenting a design (or OPLAN) and allowing the whole team to poke holes in it. Anyway, bear with me here.

    I’ve been in design reviews where folks like your Lt. Reilly ran rampant. They’ve got a captive audience, a creative mind, and a loud mouth, and off they go. Heck, if you polled my colleagues, they might tell you that I’ve been to a few design review where I WAS the proverbial Lt. Reilly.

    But here’s the thing: I’ve never seen anyone ignore Lt. Reilly at one of these things. I’ve never seen his questions or objections go unanswered. For the most part, they’re disposed of quickly by someone with more experience, but when they remain unanswered they get converted into action items and are resolved. I’ve seen some bad management, too, seen some high-stakes developments go bad, and even participated in a death march project, but I’ve never seen Reilly’s objections to a design simply overruled and ignored.

    So what are the institutional differences between an R&D environment and the military environment, that causes wargames with adverse results to be ignored, rather than elevated to an institutional imperative?

    • Tom Kratman

      They can be analogous or they can be merely exercising the communication system or they can be amazingly accurate renditions of running a battle from a TOC or helicopter where you usually can’t see what’s going on and have to see through the eyes of others.

      Try this one: “Peace is our profession.” For people who believe that wouldn’t a bluff work better than reality, presupposing you believe the bluff will keep the peace better, and especially if it will do so on the cheap? If that doesn’t help, contemplate that the military is neither a dictatorship nor a series of dicatorial layers. What it is is a carefully hidden democracy, where every decision has crushing moral implications and everything must be ratified by superiors and subordinates. Yes, subordinates, too.

    • Neil

      That doesn’t quite satisfy my curiosity. Please indulge me while I elaborate just a bit.

      I think the reason Lt. Reilly (or whatever colonel it was who sank Nagumo’s fleet during the IJN’s pre-Midway wargames) is taken seriously in the engineering world is because physics is uncaring. If Reilly is right, then he’s right, and everyone at the table is going to be stepping on their own male appendage if they ignore his concerns.

      But I’ve always thought of “war” as being the field of human endeavor in which political decisions are made based on physics. The only real question is whether I can kill you and take your stuff, or you can kill me and take my stuff. That’s pretty unforgiving, too.

      The IJN wargaming of the Midway offensive is, perhaps, the most egregious well-known example. They didn’t even have the excuse of examining a purely hypothetical battle that your 193rd wargames had. Those guys (right up to Yamamoto himself) were putting their own necks on the line in the near future, based on the plan they were wargaming. And I don’t think you can blame it on a cultural imperative unique to Japan, at least not entirely. There were probably people in your Panama wargame, too, that would have been in personal physical danger if an aggressor managed to reinvent Reilly’s tactical solution.

      So what gives?

    • Tom Kratman

      Ah. No, war is infinitely fuzzier than that. Decisions are made based in unreason, emotion rules, and character counts for far more than intellect. In addition, and hardest perhaps for bright civilians to comprehend, because war is the matching of intelligent and self willed opponents, the logic of war is about the reverse of normal logic; nothing fails like success, the easy way is always mined, the unpreditcable is predicted…etc.

      You may be looking for the answer I gave last week, to Ori:

      “The other problem, I think, is that generations of flag officers had briefed generations of politicos, to include presidents, that the canal could be secured and how, without ever really thinking about how…and how not. So the quasi-syllogism was more like:

      Our thinking has been flawed.
      We think as we do because of the system in which we were trained
      Therefore the system is flawed and…
      Oh, crap, don’t say that!”

    • Neil

      Actually, I do get that. Engineers are human, too, and a complex product is filled with decisions made for cultural reasons more than physical reasons. Look at the differences between an iPad and a Microsoft Surface, for one highly-public example. Or the series of decisions during the IBM PC development process that lost IBM the primacy of place in the computer world, in favor of Microsoft.

      I suppose the answer is that in the armed forces, threats to the entire system are felt at a much lower rank than in the business world. Perhaps, too, there is less flexibility in the system as a whole due to cultural/political constraints in the civilian sphere–which would tend to prevent effective action against newly-identified threats without destroying the whole carefully-evolved system in one go.

    • Ori Pomerantz

      Part of the issue is that as you wrote for Cruz, the military is engineering with people. The chances of people being able to do something is a lot higher if they believe they can do it. So arguably a certain amount of bluffing is called for. This is different from normal engineering, where iron bars and chips don’t really have beliefs.

    • Gary Wolfman

      If you want an analogue from the engineering world,look at large/massive software engineering projects that went wrong. The baggage handling system at Denver International Airport; or the London Ambulance Service dispatch system. Or, hell, look at the “minority report” Richard Feynman produced on the Challenger shuttle disaster.

      There are plenty or examples of very similar human factors in non-military endeavours, including ones where you would think that physics would rule absolutely.

    • http://batman-news.com Rick Randall

      Neil, I’ve been in plenty of design reviews where the “Reilly Questions” get kicked under the bed and ignored.

      Everyone of those situations involved either a Program of Record (POR) or a system (usually OTS) that people outside the actual design team selected.

      This is more analogous to these types of wargames than a clean sheet of paper design going through review.

  • Iron Spartan

    Things I learned over the years about wargaming and training exercises:

    Private’s are not to kill the Sergeant Major
    Private First Clases are not to ambush the LT who is supposed to be ambushing you.
    Private First Classes are not to kill the Major who is showing the LT how to conduct an ambush.

    Specialists are not supposed to move their position to one that makes more sense when a PL is being evaluated, causing him to get his entire platoon wiped out.
    Sergeants are not allowed to call for fire on the the enemy battalion command post, killing the CO, XO, and most of the company commanders, even if it has been pre-coordinated for.
    Sergeants are not allowed to leave improvised paintball munitions on his back trail when a Sergeant Major is trying to show off.
    Sergeants are not to poke holes in the Majors COAs that follow the MDMP to the letter.
    Sergeants are not to come up with better COAs than the officers.

  • Ori Pomerantz

    “Finally, in a huff, the Air Force major stomps off. Got to tell you, I lost a lot of respect for USAF officers as a class when this one failed to lock Reilly’s heels and explain the rules of military life to him. ”
    Why is that a bad thing? The AF major could have ordered Lt. Reilly to pretend that there is a solution, but while that would have been good for military discipline, it would have been stupid in terms of the wargame.

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