Home Forums Air and Sea Naval What Is a War Game?

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    Avatar photoAdmiralHawke

    While looking for something else, I stumbled upon this article from 1989: https://www.jstor.org/stable/e9149c59-9cb8-3e4f-9c24-a0b4dc205fa7?seq=5. I thought a few of you here might be interested by it. Apologies to those of you who have seen it before.

    I was particularly interested in this passage (thus the relevance to the naval board).

    During a lecture at the War College in 1960, Admiral Nimitz remarked that “the war with Japan had been reenacted in the game rooms at the War College by so many people, and in so many different ways, that nothing that happened during the war was a surprise – absolutely nothing except the Kamikaze tactics towards the end of the war; we had not visualized these.”
    In a letter to the War College president five years later, Admiral Nimitz wrote that “nothing that happened in the Pacific was strange or unexpected These statements are a heavy burden to carry, because war games are not really intended to be predictions of future events, but as the admiral pointed out, they can reduce surprise.
    War games here from 1919 to 1941 deserve some special comment. It is possible to trace the evolution in U.S. naval thought during those years by noting that during the annual war games, the naval officers that played them:
    • shifted from the view that a war between the United States and Japan would last only for 60 to 90 days to a view that such a war might last from 3 to 5 years;
    • shifted from the view that such a war would be mainly a fleet transit followed by a fleet action to the view that successive amphibious landings would be required and so would a logistics buildup that was until then unimagined; and
    • shifted from believing that such a war would be decided by a decisive fleet action to a realization that such a war would end as a result of a sea blockade of Japan combined with an aerial bombing campaign.

    Avatar photoOotKust

    Goes to show you need to be in their head space- just imagine what horrors are being contemplated… aka global warming… napalm the steppes..?

    In my period, the close minded aristocratic mentality of the Austrian ‘high command’ and leadership doomed their fates against Monsieur B.


    Avatar photokyoteblue

    What a wonderful find. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Avatar photoTony Hughes

    If they predicted everything, why did they caught with their pants around their ankles at Pearl Harbour ?


    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    I suspect that if you run a wargame often enough with enough variables tweaked, you will get all results – so nothing is  a ‘surprise’ – but picking the right result as a prediction is another flight of B5N Kates arriving on your doorstep.

    Avatar photoSane Max

    If they predicted everything, why did they caught with their pants around their ankles at Pearl Harbour ?

    ahhh but it was one of the 37 possible outcomes their wargames predicted… they just didnt prioritise it. 🙂

    I cannot imagine anyone in the US (Or British) Militaries did not have ‘sudden attack without/ immediately along with declaration of War as a Japanese approach. The Russo-Japanese war was in living memory. WHERE it would happen was a harder onE.

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