Professional Readings

Reading #147

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  • Sunday, July 2, 2017

Revitalizing Wargaming is Necessary to Be Prepared for Future Wars

  • By: Mr. Bob Work and General Paul Selva
  • Published: December 8, 2015
  • Read "Who Moved My Cheese" article here.


To ensure that future U.S. Military forces are prepared to prevent conflict, shape the security environment, and win wars, leaders must think clearly about future war; learn about the demands of future armed conflict; analyze what we learn to develop integrated solutions; and implement those solutions to maintain overmatch against increasingly capable enemies. ADP 1-01 states that concepts are ideas for a significant change based on proposed new approaches to the conduct of operations or technology. Concepts propose significantly different methods the force might use in the future but change can only occur after a new concept has been assessed, tested, and matured through the use of wargames, experiments, and other learning activities. Using what is learned, Army leaders are able to analyze, prioritize, and then implement doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facility solutions (DOTMLPF-P). While learning events are not the only step in future force development, they are critical to drive change.

In this week’s professional reading, “Revitalizing Wargaming is Necessary to Be Prepared for Future Wars,” Mr. Bob Work, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and General Paul Selva, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, argue that wargaming is more important than ever to navigate today’s complex and dynamic competitive environment impacted by rapid technological change and constrained defense spending. Successfully navigating this environment will require us to push the boundaries of technology while ensuring that innovation remains rooted in operationally realistic doctrine and capabilities. Work and Selva further argue that wargames are “not in and of themselves sufficient to prompt organizational and operational change.” They highlight the need for exercises “to verify game insights using systems at hand or with surrogates that represented desired advanced capabilities identified during game play” and that exercise observations and lessons learned must be fed back into new wargames to create a cycle of creative ideas and innovation in order to generate requirements for new systems, suggested new operation concepts, and influenced force design.

Work and Selva’s article emphasizes the importance of wargaming and other learning activities to provide insights that prepare leaders for making important decisions that result in changing the Army. Wargames allow leaders to gain wisdom regarding potential future events, environments, and required future capabilities through interactive experience by igniting and using imagination to expand the realm of possibilities needed to shed light on that which is currently unpredictable, unknown, and unknowable. Lastly, wargames allow for failure and the ability to explore, reflect, and move beyond our own experiences. As the authors observe, “wargaming is important because it allows participants to fail, fail again, experience the loss, adapt, innovate, and then get it right.”

Wargames are an important part of the Army’s Campaign of Learning: Force 2025 Maneuvers. Force 2025 Maneuvers are the physical (experimentation, evaluations, exercises, modeling, simulations, and wargames) and intellectual (studies, analysis, and capabilities development) activities that help leaders integrate future capabilities and develop interim solutions to warfighting challenges. Through wargaming and other Force 2025 Maneuvers events, leaders gather insight that enables them to define capability gaps, identify opportunities to achieve overmatch, and develop solutions (DOTMLPF-P) for near, mid, and far terms. The most effective wargames are those that create an environment characterized by “fog” and “friction” where incomplete and imperfect knowledge prevails. Such environments force Army leaders to apply critical reasoning and diagnose the characteristics of competition.

Unified Quest (UQ) is the Army Chief of Staff's Title 10 future study plan designed to explore enduring strategic and operational challenges to identify issues and explore solutions critical to current and future development. UQ helps leaders understand potential future missions and how to achieve those missions in future operating environments against future enemies. UQ is designed for cumulative learning in a series of wargames, seminars, and analytical studies that help leaders identify the capabilities our Army must possess in the future by assessing the projected force mix, force design, and Total Army capacity required for future Army forces to accomplish missions as part of the Joint Force. How The Army Fights (HTAF) is another important wargame that informs concept and capability development. During HTAF leaders gather to determine requirements to deter the escalation of violence, defeat threat operations, turn denied spaces into contested spaces should violence escalate, and maneuver forces from contested strategic and operational depth. The next HTAF will occur in early August. UQ and HTAF play an important role in helping the Army think, learn, and analyze important ideas underlying the development of Multi-Domain Battle in the coming years.

Insights from wargames enable Army leaders to identify the implications to DOTMLPF solutions and determine what capabilities the Army should pursue in order to win on future battlefields. Insights from UQ will be presented to senior leaders in July when they will gather to discuss the trends, implications, and resulting recommendations. The trends, implications, and recommendations will not only help shape the development of the Multi-Domain Battle concept but also inform near-term strategic decisions, such as the prioritization of future capabilities in the Strategic Portfolio Analysis Review (SPAR).

To share your thoughts and recommendations, receive additional information, or find out how you can participate in wargame please contact Mr. Anthony garner, Chief of Future Warfare Division, at Anthony Garner or 757-501-5514. Additional information on Unified Quest can be accessed at:

This week's article may be accessed at:

Information and the latest articles on Multi-Domain Battle may be accessed at:

Continuous feedback, collaboration, and teamwork are keys to the success of the Campaign of Learning and driving innovation in the Army. Please use the Army Warfighting Challenges as the framework to contribute your ideas and recommendations with respect to this topic to improve our ability to innovate as we develop the current and future force.

The Army Warfighting Challenges (AWFC) framework may be accessed here:

For previous weekly readings go to: ARCIC Professional Readings

  1. Army Operating Concept, TRADOC Pam 525-3-1, 30 October 2014
  2. Multi-Domain Battle

All the best,