Useful wargames. War Games Experience at the US Marine Corps University


It is no secret that the military of all major armies play games. We are talking about staff games, and military simulators of tactical, operational-tactical and other levels, and desktop "wargames." Many probably know about products such as CMANO (Command: Modern Air / Naval Operations), one of the best operational-tactical wargames, or Armored Brigade, Brigade Combat Team Commander, Battle Group Commander and others. Many of them are created on the basis of real staff simulators, and something is used unchanged practically in the headquarters of our "probable partner". Unfortunately, our domestic products, created on the basis of simulators and wargames for our military, are not on the market, probably because there are not so many fans of this genre in our market, and not in the western markets.


General who could


The US Marines also use such programs, in particular, extensive practice is being conducted at the University of the Marine Corps University (Marine Corps University, MCU). And no wonder what exactly there, and here's why. At the time, this same university was headed by the unforgettable General Paul Van Rieper - the one who, at the large-scale team-head games Millenium Challenge 2002 ("Millennium Challenge 2002"), acting for conditional Iran (the "reds" under which then Iran was guessed) , smashed the blue Americans to smithereens, drowning 16 large ships, including an aircraft carrier, 10 escort ships of classes from frigate to cruiser and 5 out of 6 landing force ships with preemptive strikes. A veteran of Vietnam and a number of other campaigns, Van Rieper miserably smashed the then-emerging high-tech concept of "network-centric warfare," using, like old, world-class solutions, like broadcast and delegate communications on buggies and motorbikes, instead of transmitting orders by radio, light signals, etc. .P. For target designation of anti-ship missile batteries, he used a large fleet of small and especially small vessels, many of which were indistinguishable from fishing vessels and neutral vessels. Moreover, after all, Van Riper drowned his "blue" counterparts, proceeding from, probably, an order of magnitude lower capabilities of Iran at that time. For example, Iran did not have anti-ship high-precision ballistic missiles, or subtle, albeit subsonic, anti-ship missiles, as did a lot of drones. But that was enough for him, the general showed that it’s not technology that is fighting, but people, and those people whose heads work better and grow from where they should, win.

After the catastrophe (and this was precisely it - the “blue” Americans conditionally lost more than 20 thousand “ji-ai” in a day) the exercises were frozen. But the victory was not awarded to the “red". At that time, the then deputy chairman of the US Armed Forces General School, General Pace, opposed the already retired Lieutenant General Van Rieper (later he became chairman, 3 years later). He said: "You killed me and defeated me on the first day, I can sit the remaining 13 days, but you’d better return me to the system and I will get 13 days for training." The exercises "reloaded" without even counting the victory in the round as "red." At the same time, they changed the rules in a fraudulent manner, doing everything so that the “Reds" no longer win - such is the "training". For example, the “red” Iranians were not supposed to turn off the air defense radar, they were forbidden to arbitrarily change the deployment of anti-aircraft missile, radio-technical and anti-ship parts. It was also impossible for the “red” to shoot down BTA “blue” planes carrying troops to the landing points. Moreover, the “Reds” were obliged to disclose the points of deployment of a significant part of their forces by the “Blue”, banned the use of a number of weapons, a significant number of tactical techniques and non-radiating means of communication! In general, where gentlemen cannot win by the rules, they change the rules. Even when playing with other gentlemen.

The exercises turned into a profanity designed to show the viability of an initially vulnerable and “leaky” concept, on the basis of which the American war machine was to be built. Van Rieper, as an honest officer (in those days, there were still enough of them in the US Armed Forces, but over time, as we can see, their concentration began to decline, although not to zero), refused to participate, saying that it was a "useless waste of 250 million. dollars, "intended only to prove flawed concepts and the infallibility of military leadership. Moreover, he later stated that all this had already happened - when Secretary of Defense McNamara at the beginning of the Vietnam War did everything to prove that the US Army could not lose this war, simply because it could not. However, as we know, it could.

General Paul Van Rieper is alive and well now, although he is already over 80, and periodically gives interviews in which he recalls this history, and according to current events, "pacing" is extremely unflattering. He was also a critic of the war with Iraq, it was not about the first war in which he himself participated, but about the second, and Afghanistan did not forget. In general, those who wish can delve into the English-language segment of the Network themselves and read the speeches of this military leader.

"Sea Dragon"


For the fifth year now, the United States Marine Corps University has held its annual War Wargame Tournament, Exercise Sea Dragon, and considers it one of the best ways to test its cadets and students, and not only them, but also the concepts used by the US Armed Forces. Participants will learn much more about themselves, their erroneous assumptions, plans, biased tactical methods and operational art. The rules of the tournament changed slightly every year, adapting to the capabilities of the exercise software and the changes in the scenarios and capabilities of conditional opponents - after all, the opponents were not abstract, but concrete countries, with specific points of conflict, scenarios, sets of forces and means. The headquarters games themselves are built on the "seminar", team principle, with the parties fulfilling a number of mandatory or relatively free scenarios, built so that the trainees act as harmoniously as possible and act in the most correct way. The tournament itself is built in a circular system with the departure of "knocked out" teams. Moreover, the scenarios, which are interesting, are built in such a way that they take into account either the modern capabilities of the US Armed Forces (and the United States Naval Forces in particular) and their potential adversaries, and those that will be in the near future - by 2025. Of course, we are only talking about the United States opportunities and tactical decisions of opponents - they certainly cannot know for sure.

In this scenario, (not all) allowed the use of tactical nuclear weapons parties, that is, the US tactical B61 bombs (there is nothing more), and the arsenals of the enemy. In the case of Russia, the list was very long and varied. They included the scenarios and tasks of suppressing the enemy’s air defense, if at all it was possible to suppress it — which in the case of Russia was almost always an unrealistic task. And actions in conditions where there is neither habitual air support, nor air supremacy, and the enemy is seriously outnumbered by “iron” (heavy equipment, especially tanks, BMP, armored personnel carrier) and artillery. Characteristically, the organizers of the Sea Dragon do not make the mistakes of the organizers of the aforementioned Millennium Challenge, fettering the enemy with shackles and putting him on a short chain at a pillar so that he does not hide. This, by the way, is loved by various domestic sofa analysts, considering scenarios like "one of the districts of the RF Armed Forces or part of its forces in the region without the participation of other forces - against the armed forces of some neighboring large country or a coalition of allies." However, they are not teaching future officers, they have a different task - they are terrifying to catch up.

Do you want to live - know how to spin


And this is what became clear during the tournaments. Air support so beloved by the Americans is not a panacea or even a given inherent in the American army, nor is air supremacy - it is also not guaranteed to the Americans. US forces are accustomed to relying on various weak opponents Aviation - the adversary is either weak, or chronically stupid and krivoruk, or passive, and he can be thoughtfully and consistently defeated from the air. The experience of operations suggests the possibility of gaining dominance in the air and providing ground forces with the required number of sorties and airstrikes. But, as the experience of modeling, including the Sea Dragon, shows, this has never happened in rounds against an enemy imitating the RF Armed Forces or possessing a similar set of combat air defense systems, electronic warfare, etc., that is, an enemy possessing a modern layered integrated air defense system (Integrated Air Defense System - IADS). During such rounds, students quickly unlearned how to see the enemy simply as a set of available goals. The situation with the air component in all rounds against the “Russians” was simply disastrous. Thus, the attack helicopter fleet in all matches was either completely destroyed or lost more than half or two-thirds of the combat fleet (which, in general, is no different from the destruction from the operational point of view - aviation ceases to exist as a combat ready force). The same was true for helicopters in general. As for the aircraft fleet, there the indicators were slightly better - the drop in the combat fleet below 50% in all matches at least.

Left without aviation, the “blue” in all cases were forced to use only the weapons available to the ground forces, that is, primarily artillery. At the same time, they found themselves under the strong air pressure of the "red" participants and the influence of their artillery and "means of destroying the command and control of troops" (apparently, this is about EW). They were forced to maneuver by forces and means, trying to get away from the blows, and very actively, but this did not always help. But on the whole, I had to turn around to save myself. And choose the right position. The one who chose them incorrectly had disastrous results as a result of the match. It also turned out that the headquarters of brigade combat groups (brigades) were destroyed at the “blue” in almost 80% of the rounds, and the headquarters of battalions and companies were destroyed or lost their combat effectiveness and ability to control even more often. Similar results were obtained during the tournament for two years! At the same time, the beaten participating teams were forced to look for solutions to decentralize control and ensure autonomous combat operations in the conditions of disrupted communication and control - in general, they came to decisions that Van Ripper partially used at one time.

Light at the end of the tunnel or light from the oncoming train?


Participants of tournaments see a way out of the situation in the future because once an adversary is strong, technically advanced, tactically trained, smart and does not allow him to achieve numerical superiority in technology and people, it should be compensated in the future by massing unmanned and minimally manned combat assets. Including land and disposable. In several "promising" rounds, the "blue" tried the so-called. Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUMT) - a manned unmanned military unit, and quite successfully - managed to survive under the rampart of rocket-artillery destruction or mislead the enemy. In general, it’s something like the forms of promising divisions, regiments and brigades being worked out in our country, with battalions and companies of combat robotic complexes (BRTK). But for now, the results of the first combat use of the BRTK in a real war show that it’s too early to form companies and battalions - for some types of operations in the war, tracked and wheeled “terminators” are suitable, but for the rest there aren’t. But work is going on and going actively, up to the level of, as you know, tanks-BRTK and other things. The Americans, too, as we see, came to similar conclusions, including in modeling for staff games. The future will show whether the proposed solution is suitable or whether it will become another chimera, like a number of previous concepts of the US Armed Forces, such as the “Airborne Ground Operation” and “Fighting the Second Echelons”, or the current “network-centric” concepts.

There is, however, another plus of tournaments like the one described above: cadets and students will someday become officers and generals. And to imagine that “these Russians” are in fact the last adversary to be contacted with, they do not just have to — they are obliged from young nails. The military in our nuclear age needs a sober view of the world and its capabilities. They must convey their opinions to politicians, and do not do stupid things for themselves, for which millions and hundreds of millions will be paid under the worst-case scenarios. True, the American military, unfortunately, does not listen well to American politicians. Apparently, they also need to "play toys"? And then still play out ...
Author:
Photos used:
marines.mil, commons.wikimedia.org
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  1. Keyser soze 4 February 2020 15: 22 New
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    Interesting article, thanks to the author.
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  2. Operator 4 February 2020 15: 33 New
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    The network centric is based on communication and therefore the latter is the goal for the adversary. But the installation of repeaters on board numerous small UAVs solves all the problems of network-centric in the link from the battalion and above.

    So, more advanced EW tools will not solve the tasks of the RF Armed Forces to destroy the network-centric control system of the US Armed Forces (in a conventional conflict, of course). Therefore, the Pentagon can so far relax.
    1. Bobrick 5 February 2020 18: 40 New
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      Hanging time of small drones in the air no more than a few hours. And the communication range will be limited by the small payload of the UAV.
      How should the replacement of repeaters in the air be organized? Have twice as many UAVs to ensure replacement? Isn’t it easier to hang balloons (they’re at least cheap)?
      1. Operator 5 February 2020 19: 10 New
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        Balloons are dependent on the vagaries of the wind and are a convenient target. So only an enlarged set of small UAV repeaters - analogues of base stations of mobile communications.
        1. Bobrick 5 February 2020 19: 22 New
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          small drones don’t fly in bad weather either (both storms, air holes, etc.), and balloons are visible only, the shell is radiolucent, and in the IR range it also doesn’t show anything.

          And the problem is the UAV repeaters in gigantic quantities needed, especially if the front is 200-300 km and the depth is more than a hundred kilometers, and there are only two options: either a lot of UAV repeaters with good throughput and a communication range of 20 km (about 40 drones will be required minimum, taking into account the replacement, with the specified front); or very heavy equipment (easiest in a helicopter). In this case, both options will not work in storms, rain, snow, fog, etc.
          1. Operator 5 February 2020 20: 02 New
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            And what is the problem of covering with one UAV unmanned aerial vehicle, barraging at an altitude of 9 km, a radio communication zone with a diameter of 800 km or, taking into account multiple reservations, 100 km. As a result, a 2000 km long front (European theater of operations) can be provided with communications using 20 UAV transponders (+ 20 swing), which barrage 400 km from the front line.
            1. Bobrick 5 February 2020 21: 47 New
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              Low bandwidth of the resulting channel due to the required low transmission frequency (for long-distance communications) and automatic rejection of the network-centric system (where the brigade commander can know the location of each soldier, and the infantry platoon calls up any free gun, and not given before the operation), or an incredible amount of UAVs for channel bandwidth comparable to the speed of mobile Internet.

              UAVs lodging at an altitude of 9 km already require at least unpaved airfields of 200 meters or the use of roads, which automatically makes them vulnerable to the Iskander RK.

              And actually the question: isn’t it easier to use a ready-made civilian network?
              1. Operator 5 February 2020 21: 53 New
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                As far as I remember, the mobile communications version of the late 1990s at a frequency of 450 MHz had a range of 100 km on flat ground. The size of one cell, if necessary, can vary from 100 to 10 km.

                The civilian network is stationary, and the military must be mobile.
                1. Bobrick 5 February 2020 22: 26 New
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                  The platoon level R-187P1 "Gambling" has approximately the same maximum operating frequency and throughput, the maximum achievable at it is 512 kbit / s (and only a small card the size of a St. Petersburg weighs about 0,5 GB), without encryption, of course , and with a lousy range (2-3 km in urban areas). It just can be used as a repeater, and the UAVs of the Russian Federation have mounts under it, but it can give out 100 km only in the trunked communication mode (in the relay mode if it will be on the radio station after 10-20 kilometers).
                  The Americans with radio stations of this level are even worse, but they support the "battle Internet".

                  The civilian network has incredibly huge bandwidth, and no one bothers just connecting 1-2 hardware to it, and then distributing the connection from the hardware to where it is needed.

                  In general, modern communications troops use more than 5 different types of communications (from satellite to messengers) and changing all of this to one is very stupid, yet the communications troops are the troops of the big war (the one to keep the world in ruin) and it’s unlikely that UAVs work in conditions of strong ionization of the atmosphere.
                  1. Operator 5 February 2020 22: 36 New
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                    In conditions of air ionization, nothing wireless works at all - with the exception of optics and a flag semaphore.
                    1. Bobrick 6 February 2020 09: 27 New
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                      And also ordinary landline phones, tube radio stations, with a decrease in all characteristics, messengers on special cars, etc.
  3. iouris 4 February 2020 15: 53 New
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    Wargame is a simulator. The simulator is useful in that it is able to form skills and train skills in conditions that cannot be formed without a small victorious war. Those who are not going to fight do not need a simulator.
    1. Sanichsan 5 February 2020 16: 35 New
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      Quote: iouris
      Those who are not going to fight do not need a simulator.

      do you mean those who are going to give up?
  4. Blue fox 4 February 2020 15: 55 New
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    Thanks to the author for the work done! The article is really very interesting. Personally, I was somewhat surprised by the fact that the USMC ceased to take into account the experience of Vietnam, namely those operations that cost the corps of serious losses just because the role of aviation support was overestimated. Indeed, for example, almost everywhere for large-scale operations, the army of North Vietnam (DIA) used the rainy seasons just to deprive or limit the use of aircraft by the Americans, especially in the foothills and mountainous regions with their fogs and low clouds. And then the transfer of reinforcements, supplies and fire support from the USMC aviation came to naught, and given the difficulties of interacting with the army and the air force, things sometimes turned out quite badly. Moreover, in conditions where there was inclement weather for several days or even weeks, not only was it impossible to conduct tactical operations with leaving the base camps, fire support bases, etc., and the very existence of these camps and the bases were in great danger in view of the impossibility of replenishing supplies, replenishing, evacuating the wounded and providing fire support from outside while the enemy, taking the initiative with impunity, could build up strength and seep into the operational space. In such conditions, the use of B-52s operating without special attention to the weather above the edge of the clouds when bombing was ineffective and unsafe for their troops.
    1. dauria 4 February 2020 22: 41 New
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      Personally, I was somewhat surprised by the fact that the USMC no longer took into account the experience of Vietnam,


      On the contrary, take into account. And how. They do not get involved in wars without finding cannon fodder that wins the war. And whose losses do not concern US citizens. Sami fly from above, swim nearby. And then they come as winners. It worked great in both the first and second. But with Vietnam and Korea their "allied meat" turned out to be a sweetheart - that’s the result. Their diplomats contribute 90% of the work to the victory.
      So in the simulator you need to make an option - "whom to hide instead of yourself on the ground."
  5. Shuttle 4 February 2020 16: 03 New
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    One should read with the attention of this Van Rieper.
  6. Dmitry Zverev 4 February 2020 16: 04 New
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    Very interesting, I never heard of such games, I play a simpler multiplayer strategy conflict of nations
    1. NEXUS 4 February 2020 19: 27 New
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      Quote: Dmitry Zverev
      Very interesting, I never heard of such games, I play a simpler multiplayer strategy conflict of nations

      I won’t be surprised if our world champions in
      World of Tanks will really attract to this business.
      1. Machito 4 February 2020 22: 09 New
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        Rather, from War Thunder.
  7. Invoce 4 February 2020 16: 26 New
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    An interesting article with an unexpected conclusion.
    1. SHURUM -BURUM 4 February 2020 19: 36 New
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      And one more, confounding the enemy, the conclusion that Van Rieper pointed out, and which was not paid attention to. is a sequence of custom solutions.
  8. maxim. 4 February 2020 16: 49 New
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    And where to look in the original results and analysis of Exercise Sea Dragon games?
  9. maxim. 4 February 2020 17: 40 New
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    Armored Brigade - a wonderful stray company-level battalion and may even be a little higher - to the regiment. But, alas, there is no way to play against a person - only with a computer, which greatly depreciates the toy.

    Brigade Combat Team Commander, Battle Group Commander - from the same series Armored Task Force. Judging by the latter, this is a battalion-regiment-division level simulator, did not look in detail.

    There are also games of a tactical level (reinforced company): Point Of Attack, Steel Beasts PRO and Combat Mission.
    The first is buggy - you need to select a version from the old ones. The second strong thing, but paid and the price bites, but there is no broken version and will not be visible. Combat Mission is the most affordable with a low entry threshold (the manual for the Armored Task Force or Point Of Attack is several hundred pages in English).

    Combat Mission and Point Of Attack - turn-based battles of two players by email, Steel Beasts PRO - network game of two teams as a rule. Combat Mission and Steel Beasts PRO have developed communities, including Russian-speaking. Point Of Attack did not grow together with this in view of its glitchiness, although in terms of its ability to simulate a modern battle, it is definitely higher than Combat Mission. For example, in SM, for the sake of playability, artillery capabilities are underestimated and there are no normal means of overcoming minefields, but in PoA there are. Well, each toy has its own very significant shortcomings, which make each of them very conditionally close to reality.
  10. Lamata 4 February 2020 19: 41 New
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    Thanks, author. Bend my hat. Morpehov General Van Rieper handsome.
  11. Anton Capucin 4 February 2020 20: 00 New
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    It’s a pity you can’t play with modern weapons. Steel division is good, but this is the second world, although it is quite possible to understand what and how))
  12. Dima_Anlim 5 February 2020 18: 37 New
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    "Leave the enemy unconnected, and I will smash him in three days."
  13. Operator 6 February 2020 13: 31 New
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    Quote: Bobrick
    tube radio stations [in conditions of air ionization]

    "But how, Holmes?" laughing