Professional Wargaming: Meet A US Army Student of Wargaming

CPT Red Powell, 15 January 2019

RedPower-1-HeadShot2My name is Red Powell, an Armor Captain in the United States Army, and I have been playing wargames since 2001. I played computer games and simulators initially but grew into tabletop wargaming in high school. I primarily play Warhammer 40000 (WH40K) now, but I also play a wide range of board games and other tabletop wargames. Some of the other games systems I play are made by Games Workshop, Flames of War, Warmachine/Hordes, Team Yankee, and many others.

I am attending the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) and I am striving to earn my master’s in military art and science (MMAS) in wargame design.

 

I play WH40K in the Independent Tournament Circuit (ITC), scored across the globe. Last year I ranked 31 overall and first in my given army faction, my goal for the year! I run the Worthiest Adversary Blog, a WH40K blog that focuses on players throughout the competitive gaming community. I also am a co-host of the Alpha Strike Podcastwhere we discuss the current competitive meta of WH40k. Recently, I was grateful to be selected as the Team Captain of the WH40k U.S. Army Esports team. The U.S. Army kicked off the Esports Team initiative in 2018 and WH40k is a fledgling program that I think is an excellent outreach approach to the future generations of the U.S. Army.

As a tank company commander, I ran tactical decision games with the platoon leaders and tank crews. The points of friction identified and mistakes made were invaluable for those leaders and crews.

Wargaming is an excellent hobby and past time for me, but, unsurprisingly, I have found it to be an excellent tool in my profession. Simulations and analog wargames are instructional and informative. While nothing compares to first-hand experience, wargaming can serve as an apt substitute and another method of training. Wargames ranging from tactical decision games to military decision-making process (MDMP) iterations can contribute to training and readiness overall. As a tank company commander, I ran tactical decision games with the platoon leaders and tank crews. The points of friction identified and mistakes made were invaluable for those leaders and crews.

 

I think that competitive wargames that make leaders work through dilemmas, whether assumed or not, help refine behaviors and the value of given aspects. At CGSC, delving into the wargaming step of MDMP helped show critical areas in our planning efforts and necessary branch plans in our simulated operation. Wargames have cost-effective utility at different echelons. The continued implementation and usage of wargaming is crucial to the military at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels.

 

For my MMAS in wargame design, I am designing a wargame as the methodology to answer the question “Can a competitive wargame demonstrate the impact of leader management on tactical execution?” The concept of my wargame is a two-phase game. The first phase is where the competing players, both Battalion Commanders of armor battalions, must build their chain of command, companies and battalion staff from officers available in a given pool.

The second phase is the tactical execution, a movement to contact between the two battalions that is largely dependent upon how well you built your team in the first phase. I have at least made it through concept development in my studies and hope to share images and a sample of the game in my next write up soon.

 

I appreciate the opportunity to share some about myself and discuss my interest in wargaming and what I think is important about it. I am always interested in discussing wargaming and look forward to engaging about it.

 


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4 comments on “Professional Wargaming: Meet A US Army Student of Wargaming
  1. Ed Sherwood says:

    Enjoyed reading this.

  2. brtrain says:

    A very interesting concept, and application of “worker placement” mechanics.
    I am guessing, in populating your pool of available officers, that you will be using the Hammerstein-Equord classification scheme?

    https://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/02/28/clever-lazy/

  3. ajax98 says:

    Excellent! Things have changed a bit in the last 35+ years. I was a Army Reserve MI LT using my games and computers assisting with training my personnel back in the 80’s. Usual flak from grizzled old Warrants about “not authorized training”.
    When assisting the WA and OR National Guard during their exercises I was amused when they had positive remarks about my ability to survey maps and identify key OPFOR locations.
    Best one was at “Boarderstar 85” (Ft. Bliss, TX), where they did first real time operations with the Fast Light Brigade of Dune Buggies. I was assigned to be Army Liaison to the Air Force Operational Headquarters, tasked with assigning Air Defense Assets. That was fun. During the course of the exercise we got warning of possible Threat Air/Land Asset Insertion.
    I took my rest period, figuring that if things got tense they would wake me. I awoke at the end of my rest time finding things at HQ in a bit of a lull. I was told the lull was due to resetting the exercise. Seems my allocations had completely obliterated the Threat’s attempt to land a Mobile Operations Group (and whomever the sad AF person was that planned that was not given adequate training OR gaming experience).

    I consider myself successful at these endeavors whenever they have to pause and attenuate the initial results. Or when my team gets really bizarre adjudicated results regardless of our dispositions and assignments.
    Probably the first time some people have heard and considered the implications of the proverbial “moral” victory.

  4. Jason Patterson says:

    I have been in that room in your picture. The wargaming room on the first floor.

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