Pentagon Must Higher Job of Monitoring Wargames, Report Finds

The U.S. army depends on wargames to assist inform its technique, techniques, and necessities. However a brand new report from the Authorities Accountability Workplace sees some flaws, together with Division of Protection efforts which can be chronically stovepiped. 

“GAO discovered that there are obstacles to accessing wargame information, info on upcoming wargames will not be shared, and the companies haven’t developed normal schooling and {qualifications} for wargamers,” the report, launched April 24, acknowledged. 

The report drew on the interviews with DOD officers, along with the oversight physique’s analysis and evaluation. After reviewing the critique, the Pentagon agreed with the GAO’s suggestions.

The DOD started a push to extend and enhance its wargaming in 2015 below then deputy secretary of protection Robert Work, who wrote in a memo on the time that the flexibility of the U.S. army to conduct wargames had “atrophied.”

In the present day, a broad array of instructions and organizations conduct simulations internally or in collaborations with outdoors entities. The Pentagon’s Workplace of Web Evaluation, the Joint Workers, companies, combatant instructions, and different organizations all conduct wargames for their very own strategic, tactical, or instructional functions

But the Pentagon doesn’t have a full understanding of the scope of the myriad wargaming efforts, in keeping with the GAO. Compounding the issue, there are quite a few obstacles to sharing info throughout the division on what wargames are concluding and the way they’re being carried out.

“Within the absence of a department-wide information administration method, obstacles to accessing wargame studies and different info stay—outcomes are left fully unrecorded or unshared inside organizational stovepipes,” the GAO stated. “Consequently, wargame sponsors or designers don’t get pleasure from consulting a complete database of wargames previous to pursuing their very own, dropping alternatives to study from others and leverage earlier work.”

To treatment the issue, GAO stated the Pentagon wants an workplace to observe and account for the army’s wargames. The division also needs to “establish a lead group to create and preserve a typical operational image or grasp calendar for wargames,” the report states. And people conducting the wargames ought to be required to offer that info. 

Some safety consultants who’ve participated in wargames agreed there ought to be extra transparency throughout the DOD, particularly when the conclusions are used to drive vital decision-making.

“If we’re going to listen to about tidbits from video games, it might be good if the video games themselves had some rationalization,” Eric Heginbotham of MIT’s Middle for Worldwide Research instructed Air & Area Forces Journal. “So there’s a public element to this. However even inside DOD, there’s a giant downside when it comes to simply gathering and making obtainable even throughout the neighborhood the outcomes—every part from recreation construction to guidelines to outcomes and classes realized.”

One attainable answer could be to broaden the mandate of a comparatively new DOD unit, the Evaluation Working Group—the AWG was created in 2021 to information the Pentagon’s analytic capabilities, together with wargames.

One GAO advice particularly proposed the Secretary of Protection “ought to make sure the Evaluation Working Group develops and implements a department-wide method for successfully sharing wargame information that, at a minimal, establishes necessities or requirements for reporting wargame information and addresses the fragmentation of information throughout a number of methods.”

Some wargame designers additionally stated the DOD ought to perceive the bounds of what may be realized from wargames, that are in the end human endeavors topic to sensible constraints, equivalent to members’ time, assets, subject material information, and particular person biases.

Becca Wasser, the pinnacle of the Middle for a New American Safety’s Gaming Lab, stated that the Protection Division ought to be cautious in counting on wargames alone to advocate for specific operational ideas or capabilities.

“A part of that is additionally at all times pairing recreation outcomes with further analysis,” she stated. “It’s a human-centric instrument of research,” Wasser added. “What one participant may see because the takeaways and classes realized are completely different than what one other participant sees.”

Retired Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Research, welcomed further scrutiny of wargaming.

“An analysis of simply how wargaming and simulations are completed is definitely warranted as a result of many individuals place quite a lot of emphasis on their final result,” he stated.

“They need to be used to tell, information, and familiarize the members with respect to a selected scenario,” Deptula added. “However now we have to be very cautious about drawing conclusions, significantly from single wargame occasions, as a result of there are such a lot of assumptions that go into a selected wargame, even probably the most refined and complicated.”