29 April 2011

Random Friday Wargaming: Lock 'n Load: A Day of Heroes

This one's a little personal... I actually know someone who died in Somalia. It's not like we were drinking buddies or anything; he was married to one of my ROTC classmates and I only met him once, but it's still a personal connection. I never really thought I'd see a decent wargame on the subject, but Mark Walker has done it. LNLP's excellent Lock 'n Load: A Day of Heroes, a standalone game using the fantastic Lock'n'Load rules.

Buy your own copy of A Day of Heroes at LNLP's website.

The CSW board is well-populated by experts in the game, and the designer on a frequent basis.

Master links/images from Boardgamegeek.com; message boards linked to Consimworld. Other links to the actual game pages...

By: Brant

28 April 2011

Bombing in Marrakesh

There's been a bomb in Morrocco, in a tourist-heavy part of Marrakesh.

At least 14 people were killed and 20 injured Thursday -- most of them tourists -- when an explosion tore through a cafe in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh, the state-run news agency said.

Initial clues gathered by investigators indicate that the blast is the result of an attack, according to the Maghreb Arabe Presse, citing the Interior Ministry.

Several French nationals were among the wounded, and Foreign Minister Alain Juppe issued a stiff condemnation of what he called a "barbarian terrorist attack which nothing can justify."

"Such an awful act can only bring indignation and unreserved condemnation. All light must be shed on this revolting crime, officials prosecuted, tried and punished," said Juppe, who said French authorities will provide assistance to French nationals in Marrakesh.

Witnesses told CNN the blast occurred at Cafe Argana in Place Jemaa el Fna, the popular bazaar and square that draws thousands of tourists every year.

"We were walking around the souks, right around the corner from Cafe Argana. We heard a gigantic boom, and everyone immediately starting running towards the square to see what happened," according to a German tourist who was about 50 meters from the cafe when the blast occurred.

View Larger Map

By: Brant

UK In Action: A Blur of Action!

A Tongan soldier rushes across the range during a training exercise at Hythe and Lydd ranges in Kent. Members of the Royal Air Force Regiment were training the South Pacific troops in preparation for a deployment to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Origins Master Events Grid Released

The official master events list for Origins has been released.

By: Brant

27 April 2011

Is Congress Really Killing Jobs the Alternate F35 Engine?

Hmmmm... Maybe the budget hawks are serious, and even though it will cost jobs in some districts, they're actually going to kill the GE/Rolls Royce alternate engine for the F-35 fighter.

The U.S. Defense Department ended a contract with General Electric Co and Rolls-Royce Group Plc on Monday for an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The Pentagon for five years argued the second engine was an unnecessary expense while supporters in Congress kept funding the project, maintaining that competition with an engine built by United Technologies Corp unit Pratt & Whitney would ultimately produce savings for taxpayers.
But lawmakers earlier this month omitted funds for the alternative engine in an agreement on a budget to cover U.S. government spending for the remainder of fiscal 2011 that ends September 30.
GE and Rolls-Royce vowed to press for funding to be restored in fiscal 2012, so that the engine can be completed and compete for orders. They estimate taxpayers have spent roughly $3 billion on the project so far.
"I can assure you we are not giving up," GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said in a letter to employees released on Monday.

By: Brant

Syrian Military Movements

Sort of like bowel movements - full of shit and happen regularly - but this time they're shuffling forces near the capital. Are they bringing tanks into Damascus to forestall any shenanigans?

A convoy of at least 30 Syrian army tanks was seen moving on tank carriers on the Damascus circular highway on Wednesday, a witness told Reuters.
The tanks were coming from the southwest of Damascus near the Golan Heights frontier with Israel and passed on the highway at about 0500 GMT, the witness said.
They were heading in the direction leading to the northern suburb of Douma and to the southern city of Deraa, where President Bashar al-Assad sent forces to crush a peaceful protests against his autocratic rule.
Republican Guards units are based all around Damascus. Another mechanized division is stationed 20-30 kilometers southwest of the capital, in charge of defending the occupied Golan Heights frontier with Israel, which has been quiet since a 1974 ceasefire brokered by the United States.

By: Brant

Australia In Action: SOTG in Afghanistan

Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) members enter the training compound at Multi National Base Tarin Kowt (MNBTK).

image from Australian MoD

By: Widow 6-7

GameTalk - Fog of War

There are plenty of ways to replicate the fog of war: dummy counters, blocks, untried units, question marks, etc.

What FoW mechanic do you like best, and why?

By: Brant

NEWS: Petraeus to CIA

MSNBC is just now breaking this on TV, so I don't have a link yet, but the scroll on their website says it all:
BREAKING NEWS: CIA director Panetta to take over Pentagon; Petraeus to be nominated for CIA - AP

Update: here's one article for you.

Update 2: Here's an interesting article about Ambassador Ryan Crocker taking over Afghanistan. Clearly this was written before the Petraeus announcement.

Seasoned diplomat Ryan Crocker has emerged as the top candidate to become the next U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, part of a far-reaching revamping of the nation's top leadership in the conflict there, now in its 10th year.
Crocker is the only person being considered currently to replace Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, a former Army general whose two-year tenure has been marred by cool relationships with major players in the Afghanistan war, including the White House, U.S. military leaders and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, administration and other sources said. The sources emphasized that the White House has not made a final decision.
Sending Crocker to Afghanistan would reunite him with Gen. David Petraeus, re-creating the diplomatic and military "dream team" credited with rescuing the flagging American mission in Iraq.

By: Brant

26 April 2011

Humor: I Think This Explains a Lot of Our Problems in the Third World

I think this explains a lot of our problems in the Third World. How can you reason with this?

In all fairness, though, some Westerners act like this too. Yes, British soccer hooligans, American sports fans celebrating their team's championship victory, the "no justice, no peace" crowd... I'm looking at you.

(from verydemotivational.com)

By: Guardian

BATTLES! Magazine Preview

Described by at least one person as "wargaming porn", BATTLES! Magazine has set a very, very high new standard for visual design in game magazines.
Check out this preview site for the upcoming issue of BATTLES! Magazine.
And don't drool on the keyboard.

By: Brant

Sound Off! Arctic vs Equatorial Operations

You're off on a deployment...

Snow, ice, wind, and cold - send me to the poles and let me bundle up!

Heat, humidity, and stable temperatures - I'm headed to the equator!

Plan your trip in the comments with your thoughts!

By: Brant

This Can't Be Good News

I don't know what's worse, that more than 450 escaped Talibanistanis are on the loose, or that there's no way 450 of them escape from prison without someone helping them...

Taliban militants dug a lengthy tunnel underground and into the main jail in Kandahar city and whisked out more than 450 prisoners, most of whom were Taliban fighters, officials and insurgents said Monday.
The massive overnight jailbreak in Afghanistan's second-largest city underscores the Afghan government's continuing weakness in the south despite an influx of international troops, funding and advisers. Kandahar city, in particular, has been a focus of the international effort to establish a strong Afghan government presence in former Taliban strongholds.
The 1,200-inmate Sarposa Prison has been part of that plan. The facility has undergone security upgrades and tightened procedures following a brazen 2008 Taliban attack that freed 900 prisoners. Afghan government officials and their NATO backers have regularly said that the prison has vastly improved security since that attack.
But on Sunday night, about 475 prisoners streamed out of a tunnel that had been dug into the facility and disappeared into Kandahar city, prison supervisor Ghulam Dastagir Mayar said. He said the majority of the missing were Taliban militants.

By: Brant

25 April 2011

Leave No Man Behind: WWII Edition

Another downed aircrewman from WWII is coming home.

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

U.S. Army Air Forces Pfc. Mervyn E. Sims, 23, of Petaluma, Calif., will be buried Friday in his hometown. On April 24, 1943, Sims and four crew members aboard a C-87 Liberator Express departed from Yangkai, China, in support of “the Hump” resupply mission between India and China. Prior to takeoff, a ground crew determined the aircraft had sufficient fuel for the six-hour flight to the air base on other side of the Himalayas in Chabua, India. Once cleared for takeoff, there was no further communication between the aircrew and airfield operators. Army officials launched a search effort when the plane did not arrive at the destination. No evidence of the aircraft was found and the five men were presumed killed in action.

In 2003, an American citizen in Burma reported to U.S. officials at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) that he had found aircraft wreckage he believed to be an American C-87 in the mountains 112 miles east of Chabua. He was detained by Burmese officials when he attempted to leave the country with human remains and artifacts from the site. The remains and materials were handed over to officials at the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon. Attempts to excavate the site are being negotiated with the Indian government.

Meanwhile, JPAC scientists continued the forensic process, analyzing the remains and physical evidence already in hand.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA, which matched that of Sims’ sister, in the identification of his remains.

By: Brant

Is Syria Melting Down... Even Worse?

The Syrian army has now attacked the city of Deraa, where most of the protests have been starting.

Syria's army has advanced into the southern city of Deraa, with tanks being used to back troops, according to activists and unverified video footage.
One activist was quoted as saying that security forces were "firing in all directions", and at least five people were reportedly killed.
Witnesses also said security forces had opened fire in a suburb of Damascus.
A prominent human rights campaigner said President Bashar al-Assad had launched a "savage war" on protesters.
There have been numerous reports of crackdowns and arrests around Syria over recent days, despite the lifting of an emergency law last week.
On Sunday, at least 13 people were reported to have been killed in the north-western city of Jabla, while dozens of protesters died on Friday.
Deraa is the city in which protesters began calling for political reforms last month. Many are now demanding that President Assad step down.

And Syria has closed the border with Jordan.

A Jordanian security official says Syria has sealed the border with Jordan and is preventing people from leaving the country.
The Jordanian border crossing lies close to the southern Syrian town of Daraa, where government forces were launching a sharp crackdown on protesters Monday. Some of the fiercest protests against the Syrian regime have taken place in Daraa.
The official spoke on customary condition of anonymity.
The border closure may aim to prevent Syrian demonstrators and activists from feeling to nearby Jordan.
The head of Syria's Customs Department denied that Damascus has closed its land borders with Jordan.

By: Brant

UK In Action: Frogman!

A diver is pictured during a leisure dive for members of HMS Cornwall's ships company, during a break in operations in Oman.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Monday Video: Blow Me Away

Starting your week off with another BANG.

By: Brant

24 April 2011

What We All Need Around the Office

A bad-ass crossbow.

By: Brant

23 April 2011

BUB: Conflicts-A-Go-Go

Channelling his inner Iraqi Information Minister, the head of Pakistan's army says they've broken the back of the insurgency.

Pakistan's military has broken the back of militants linked to al Qaeda and Taliban, the country's powerful head of the army said in a speech on Saturday that followed criticism from the United States that it wasn't doing enough to fight militancy.
Washington, struggling to put down a 10-year insurgency in Afghanistan, said this month that Pakistan lacked a robust plan to defeat militants, and its intelligence agents were maintaining links with Afghan Taliban militants.
Without making any reference to Washington's concerns, army General Ashfaq chief Kayani said Pakistan army was fully aware of the internal and external threats faced by the country.
"In the war against terrorism, our officers and soldiers have made great sacrifices and have achieved tremendous success," he said in a speech to army cadets at Kakul military academy, north of Islamabad, broadcast by state television.
"The terrorists' backbone has been broken and Inshallah (God willing) we will soon prevail."
More after the jump (assuming the formatting worked right!)
Click the post title for the rest.

22 April 2011

ISI Playing Both Sides? ADM Mullen Thinks So

ADM Mullen has publicly admitted what everyone has "known" for a while: Pakistan's ISI spy has "militant links"

The US military's top officer, Adm Mike Mullen, has accused Pakistan's spy agency of having links with militants targeting troops in Afghanistan.

He said Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had a "long-standing relationship" with a militant group run by Afghan insurgent Jalaluddin Haqqani.

The comments came as he held talks in Islamabad on Wednesday. Pakistani officials are also in the US for talks.

Pakistan routinely rejects charges of collusion with militants.

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says that US officials have in the past spoken anonymously or in circumspect terms about associations between the Pakistani establishment and insurgents.

But that with this blunt statement Adm Mullen has for the first time claimed a clear link between the two, our correspondent says.

"It's fairly well known that the ISI has a long-standing relationship with the Haqqani network," Adm Mullen told Pakistan's Dawn newspaper.

"Haqqani is supporting, funding, training fighters that are killing Americans and killing coalition partners. And I have a sacred obligation to do all I can to make sure that doesn't happen."

He said the spy agency's support of the network remained at the "core ... and the most difficult part of the relationship" and that he would take it up with Pakistan's army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani.

By: Brant

BUB: Deploying A Drone to Libya, and UAVs, too

The US is deploying UAVs to Libya.

Armed US Predator drones are to carry out missions over Libya, Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said.

Mr Gates said their use had been authorised by President Barack Obama and would give "precision capability" to the military operation.

And we're also sending in a drone.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, one of the strongest proponents in Congress of the American military intervention in Libya, said Friday that Libyan rebels fighting Moammar Gadhafi's troops are his heroes.

-- snip --

McCain said he was in Benghazi "to get an on the ground assessment of the situation" and planned to meet with the rebel National Transition Council, the de-facto government in the eastern half of the country, and members of the rebel military.

I mean, someone has to get on-the-ground confirmation that we've "degraded" Libyan forces "by up to 40 percent"... by whatever metric they're using.

Coalition air strikes have degraded Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's main ground forces by 30 to 40 percent, but the battle appears to be heading to a stalemate, the top U.S. military officer said on Friday.
"It's certainly moving toward a stalemate," said Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military's joint chiefs of staff, addressing U.S. troops during a visit to Baghdad.
"At the same time we've attrited somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of his main ground forces, his ground force capabilities. Those will continue to go away over time."

By: Brant

Origins War College Speaker / Event Grid

Draft of OWC Speakers' Grid - this is a 90% solution. The events in the far right column are pretty well locked-down since many of the folks running them are time-constrained elsewhere by panels and other events.

This is also being pinned to the top as a stand-alone page within the blog.

TIME Lecture
Third Room
Wed 1700 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned)
Wed 1800 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) Staff Wargaming
Battles from the Bulge
Wed 1900 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) Staff Wargaming
Battles from the Bulge
Wed 2000 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) Staff Wargaming
Battles from the Bulge
Wed 2100 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) Staff Wargaming
Battles from the Bulge
Wed 2200 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned)
Wed 2300 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned)
Thu 0900 Sterrett
Training with Games: Core Concepts
(nothing yet - stay tuned)
Thu 1000 Robinson
The Lion's Share
Colonialism in the Victorian Age
(nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned)
Thu 1100 Robinson
The Lion's Share
Colonialism in the Victorian Age
(nothing yet - stay tuned) Staff Wargaming
Flashpoint Germany
Thu 1200 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) Staff Wargaming
Flashpoint Germany
Thu 1300 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) Staff Wargaming
Flashpoint Germany
Thu 1400 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) Staff Wargaming
Flashpoint Germany
Thu 1500 (nothing yet - stay tuned) Galope
Use of Strategic Gaming for Adult Education
(nothing yet - stay tuned)
Thu 1600 McDonagh & Robinson
Steam to Steel:Late 18th Century Naval Developments
Designing for Effect
Military Games and Sims for Professional Training
(nothing yet - stay tuned)
Thu 1700 McDonagh & Robinson
Steam to Steel:Late 18th Century Naval Developments
Designing for Effect
Military Games and Sims for Professional Training
(nothing yet - stay tuned)
Thu 1800 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) Staff Wargaming
Fighting a Strategic Counterinsurgency
Thu 1900 (nothing yet - stay tuned) McDonagh
Investigating the Chenonan Attack
Staff Wargaming
Fighting a Strategic Counterinsurgency
Thu 2000 Engle
The Paris Commune and the Birth of the 3rd Republic
(nothing yet - stay tuned) Staff Wargaming
Fighting a Strategic Counterinsurgency
Thu 2100 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) Staff Wargaming
Fighting a Strategic Counterinsurgency
Thu 2200 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned)
Fri 0900 Abrams
The Roman Republic After Cannae
19th Century Submarine Warfare
Staff Wargaming
Naval Warfare
Fri 1000 Abrams
The Roman Republic After Cannae
19th Century Submarine Warfare
Staff Wargaming
Naval Warfare
Fri 1100 (nothing yet - stay tuned) Desy
Revolution in the Arab World, Middle East, and Beyond.
Staff Wargaming
Naval Warfare
Fri 1200 T.Powell
The Voronezh Front Summer Offensive 1943
Revolution in the Arab World, Middle East, and Beyond.
Staff Wargaming
Naval Warfare
Fri 1300 (nothing yet - stay tuned) Galope
COIN Intelligence Collection in Iraq: Non
Military Measures
(nothing yet - stay tuned)
Fri 1400 (nothing yet - stay tuned) Panel
Games and Simulations for Military Training
(nothing yet - stay tuned)
Fri 1500 (nothing yet - stay tuned) Panel
Games and Simulations for Military Training
(nothing yet - stay tuned)
Fri 1600 (nothing yet - stay tuned) Robinson
The Legacy of Colonialism
(nothing yet - stay tuned)
Fri 1700 Caffrey
Technology as an Element of Military Strategy
(nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned)
Fri 1800 Caffrey
Changing Past
Changing Perspectives on the ACW
Is the United States in Decline? Is the Foreign Policy of the United States a Failure?
(nothing yet - stay tuned)
Fri 1900 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned)
Fri 2000 Bliss
American & British Coast Defense in the Victorian Era
(nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned)
Fri 2100 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned)
Fri 2200 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned)
Sat 0900 Mosher & Robinson
Modern Russia:Domestic and International Choices
Staff Wargaming
Decisive Action
Sat 1000 T.Powell
The Voronezh Front and 4th Panzer Army
Battle for Kiev 1943
Mosher & Robinson
Modern Russia:Domestic and International Choices
Staff Wargaming
Decisive Action
Sat 1100 (nothing yet - stay tuned) Caffrey
Impact of the First 200 Years of Modern Wargaming
Staff Wargaming
Decisive Action
Sat 1200 Mosher
Space 1889: Imperialism in that Universe (sanctioned by Frank Chadwick)
Impact of the First 200 Years of Modern Wargaming
Staff Wargaming
Decisive Action
Sat 1300 Mosher
Space 1889: Imperialism in that Universe (sanctioned by Frank Chadwick)
Guillory, K
Eyeball-to-Eyeball with the Soviets
The early days of arms control
(nothing yet - stay tuned)
Sat 1400 (nothing yet - stay tuned) Caffrey
Anticipating the Next 200 Years of Wargaming's Impact
(nothing yet - stay tuned)
Sat 1500 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) Staff Wargaming
Persian Incursion and Nuclear Containment
Sat 1600 (nothing yet - stay tuned) Desy
Is the United States in Decline? Is the Economy of the United States Failing?
Staff Wargaming
Persian Incursion and Nuclear Containment
Sat 1700 (nothing yet - stay tuned) Desy
Is the United States in Decline? Is the Economy of the United States Failing?
Staff Wargaming
Persian Incursion and Nuclear Containment
Sat 1800 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) Staff Wargaming
Persian Incursion and Nuclear Containment
Sat 1900 (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned) (nothing yet - stay tuned)
Sat 2000 (nothing yet - stay tuned) NSDM
Global Hotspots Seminar
(nothing yet - stay tuned)
Sat 2100 (nothing yet - stay tuned) NSDM
Global Hotspots Seminar
(nothing yet - stay tuned)
Sat 2200 (nothing yet - stay tuned) NSDM
Whither NSDM ?
(nothing yet - stay tuned)

By: Brant

Random Wargame Design Thoughts

Feel free to ramble about in the comments on this, but I've got a couple of questions I've been mulling over, and not enough cranial capacity to muddle through good answers right now...

1. I'm wondering how to properly account for out-sized effects in games. For instance, the Koran-shooting incident in the Iraq War caused a shitstorm of trouble for our guys in the street that resulted in a surge of troops onto patrols to beef up our security, as well as a definable increase in enemy capabilities and morale.
- While these are injectable into a game w/ "random" event cards* how are the actual effects of said card applied to the game?
- What are the metrics by which you apply the effects?
- At what point do you "punt" on some genuinely important events b/c accounting for them would create an entirely new sub-system of rules just to deal with them? Is the chrome worth it?

* the appearance of the events is certainly randomizable, but given that it's a stack of pre-printed cards, I don't think the events themselves are truly random with a pre-defined universe of possibilities...

2. Similar to the first one, at least with regard to chrome/subsystems - why don't we see more 'irrelevant' distractors in games? An example would be *any* game that features armed mobs of irregulars, or randomly-spawning mobs, such as LNLP's Day of Heroes. Any time a mob appears, it's a target. The game is designed around combat, and understandably backs out anything not related to that. But how often has a spontaneous mob appeared that was throwing rocks and burning cars because an incompetent ref awarded a questionable PK in soccer game between major rivals? Why not have a spontaneous mob form that has absolutely nothing to do with shooting at the opponent? Yes, it means adding rules to deal with distractors, but is that such a bad thing?

3. Aside from the issues I have with "random" cards (above), how can we put into play the effects that home-front politics, punditry, and media have on front-line engagements, if any?
- Do the headlines of the day effect that day's patrols through the local villages?
- If not, how high in the echelons do you have to go before you start to discern noticeable effects? And what are those effects?
--- Changes in ROE?
--- Changes in morale factors?
--- Some form of resource allocation that allows for the number of actions to be executed?

3 1/2. If you're going to allow the homefront to affect what happens in the field, then can you put in a system to make the reverse true, too? Can an embedded reporter's dispatches from the front change public opinion on the war enough to make for a discernable effect in the loop back? And if so, how do you account for such a presence in the orbat?
A real-world example I can think of is David Blume and the "Blume-mobile" back in '03 in the invasion of Iraq. He was traveling w/ 3-15 MECH and riding on an M88 in the combat trains. People in the military knew from his descriptions exactly where he was; people not in the military have no idea what "combat trains" and "field trains" are or where to find them in march. Blume's broadcasts arguably had an effect on the morale of the populace in the US. But to account for him in a boardgame (or hell, in a computer game, Guardian!) you now need to introduce a journalist into the orbat, and the unit with which he's traveling(!) - in this case, the combat trains, which are never accounted for in a wargame.

I'm sure I'm making this all a lot harder than it needs to be, but I wanted to ask the questions and see what sorts of responses people might have. Or not. :)

By: Brant

Random Friday Wargaming: Modern Naval Battles: Global Warfare

Look, I ain't a huge naval warfare guy. That said, there's still some great ocean gaming out there, and among the best is the Modern Naval Battles: Global Warfare game.

The ConSimWorld board is subsumed into the ConsimWorld forum for Dan Verssen Games.

Pick up your own copy of Modern Naval Battles - Global Warfare from dvg.com.

Master links/images from Boardgamegeek.com; message boards linked to Consimworld. Other links to the actual game pages...

By: Brant

Trying to Create an Army of Developers

Literally. The Army is planning to issue the Droid dev kit to soldiers this summer.

The US Army has announced that it will soon throw open an Android dev kit allowing apps to be written for use by soldiers on a variety of combat handsets and devices.

The military Droid framework is known as Mobile/Handheld Computing Environment (CE).

"Using the Mobile /Handheld CE Product Developers Kit, we're going to allow the third-party developers to actually develop capabilities that aren't stovepiped," says Lt-Col Mark Daniels. Daniels is in charge of the Joint Battle Command-Platform (JBC-P) handheld device, which is essentially a military Droid phone: it is expected to be issued to US Army and Marine ground units from 2013.

The colonel says that the mobile/handheld CE dev kit will be released in July. Before that point the Army will develop certain core apps that will come with every handset, to include mapping, so-called Blue Force Tracking (displaying where friendly units are in order to avoid "friendly fire" incidents), TIGR map-marking and messaging. According to Daniels there will also be an address book and OpenOffice for document viewing.

Yet unknown is how they plan to teach people to use it.

By: Brant

DoD's New Unified Command Plan

DoD's Unified Command Plan catches up with reality...

The Department of Defense released today the updated the Unified Command Plan (UCP), a key strategic document that establishes the missions, responsibilities, and geographic areas of responsibility for commanders of combatant commands. Unified Command Plan 2011, signed by the President on April 6, assigns several new missions to the combatant commanders.

Every two years, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is required to review the missions, responsibilities, and geographical boundaries of each combatant command and recommend to the President, through the Secretary of Defense, any changes that may be necessary. As in past years, the 2011 review process included the combatant commanders, service chiefs and DoD leadership.

A revised map of the combatant commanders' areas of responsibilities can be found at http://go.usa.gov/Tp7 . Significant changes made by UCP 2011 include:

- Shifting areas of responsibilities boundaries in the Arctic region to leverage long-standing relationships and improve unity of effort. As a result of this realignment, responsibility for the Arctic region is now shared between USEUCOM and USNORTHCOM rather than USEUCOM, USNORTHCOM and USPACOM as directed in previous UCPs.

- Giving USNORTHCOM responsibility to advocate for Arctic capabilities.

- Codifying the President's approval to disestablish U.S. Joint Forces Command.

- Expanding U.S. Strategic Command’s responsibility for combating weapons of mass destruction and developing Global Missile Defense Concept of Operations.

- Giving U.S. Transportation Command responsibility for synchronizing planning of global distribution operations.

UCP 2011 continues to support U.S. defense security commitments around the world while improving military responsiveness to emerging crises.

Nice to see the DoD finally put pen to paper on a decision made over a year ago (the disbanding of JFCOM)...

By: Brant

Next Iraq Units Announced

The DoD has announced that 2/82 is headed out for the next Iraq Rotation.

The Department of Defense announced today the deployment of a unit as part of an upcoming rotation of forces supporting Operation New Dawn in Iraq. The scheduled rotation for these replacement forces will begin in late Spring 2011.

The deploying unit is 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade (AAB), 82nd Airborne Division, based in Fort Bragg, N.C., totaling 3,500 personnel.

As part of Operation New Dawn, the 2nd AAB will have three primary missions: advise, assist, train and equip Iraqi Security Forces; conduct partnered counter-terrorism operations; and support and protect civilian and military efforts focused on developing Iraqi civil and institutional capacity.

Image from 2/82 website...

By: Brant

The "Other" Journalist Killed in Libya

Apparently acclaimed war photographer Chris Hondros and I were at the same school at the same time for several years.

The New York Times is reporting that acclaimed war photographer Chris Hondros, a 1993 graduate of NC State, has died after being injured Wednesday in Libya.
The Times reported that Tim Hetherington, the director and producer of the film “Restrepo” was also killed when he, Hondros and a group of photojournalists came under attack in Misurata. The Times said Hondros spent several hours in a coma before he died.
Hondros, a senior correspondent for Getty Images, has covered conflicts in Irag, Afghanistan, Liberia, Kosovo and elsewhere. He was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in spot news photography and a finalist for a 2008 National Magazine Award. His photos have appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek and The Economist.

Photo gallery here.

By: Brant

21 April 2011

UK In Action: Gun Shell In Flight

A 4.5 inch shell is captured in flight as Type 23 frigate HMS Northumberland conducts a gunnery exercise. HMS Northumberland took the opportunity to test out her 4.5 inch gun recently. The ship's mission was part of a multi-national effort to disrupt terrorist and organised crime smuggling routes that provide both supplies and finances to terrorist organisations. This involves the vessel operating for extended periods in the harsh and uncomfortable environment of the Middle East. The tasking is all a part of the multi-national effort to disrupt terrorist and organised crime smuggling routes that provide both supplies and finances to terrorist organisations.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Leave No Man Behind: WWII Edition

Another US airman is coming home from WWII as remains have been found in the Philippines.

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

U.S. Army Air Forces Tech. Sgt. James G. Maynard, of Ellenwood, Ga., will be buried on April 22 at Arlington National Cemetery. On March 12, 1945, Maynard and five crew members aboard a C-47A Skytrain departed Tanauan Airfield on Leyte, Philippines, on a resupply mission to guerilla troops. Once cleared for takeoff, there was no further communication between the aircrew and airfield operators. When the aircraft failed to return, a thorough search of an area ten miles on either side of the intended route was initiated. No evidence of the aircraft was found and the six men were presumed killed in action. Their remains were determined to be non-recoverable in 1949.

In 1989, a Philippine National Police officer contacted U.S. officials regarding a possible World War II-era aircraft crash near Leyte. Human remains, aircraft parts and artifacts were turned over to the local police, then to U.S. officials at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC).

From 1989 to 2009, JPAC sought permission to send teams to the crash site but unrest in the Burauen region precluded on-scene investigations or recovery operations. Meanwhile, JPAC scientists continued the forensic process, analyzing the remains and physical evidence already in hand.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA—which matched that of Maynard’s cousin—in the identification of his remains.

At the end of the war, the U.S. government was unable to recover and identify approximately 79,000 Americans. Today, more than 72,000 are unaccounted-for from the conflict.

By: Brant

Citizenship Boot Camp for Immigrants? Sort Of...

The Army and Navy are adding a new curriculum to initial entry training, allowing immigrant recruits to earn their citizenship while in training.

Military service has long been one route to U.S. citizenship. Now the Army and Navy, in need of specialists and language skills in wartime, are speeding things up by allowing recruits to wrap up the process while they're still in basic training.
It means a change in a no-visitors policy during boot camp, to allow federal immigration officers access to the recruits. But military officials say it's a well-deserved break for volunteers who otherwise would have to slog through the bureaucratic ordeal during deployments around the world, often far from U.S. embassies.
The military route is not a short-cut for foreigners abroad to get into the U.S. Only legal immigrants can apply, officials stress, and they must complete five years of honorable service or chance having their citizenship revoked.
"The moment the Soviet Union broke up, I decided America was the place for me to be," said Spec. Rima Rusnac, 33, of the former Soviet republic of Moldova, just after taking her oath of citizenship recently. "In America, I can exercise my full potential and be free."
Rusnac, who holds a college degree in English and German, was finishing boot camp at Fort Jackson, the Army's largest training installation. She was headed for further training as a combat medic at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, a skill that is at a premium because of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As she spoke, eight other soldiers from countries including Iran, Haiti, Australia and Bangladesh celebrated and showed friends and family their new citizenship papers, just a day before they were all due to graduate from their 10 weeks of Army basic training.

By: Brant

Army Rearranging Part of the Admin Org Chart

The Army is shuttering Accessions Command and realigning folks with TRADOC, where they always should've been.

The Army Accessions Command will inactivate by the end of fiscal 2012 as part of the Department of Defense and Army efficiency reviews.

The decision is a result of a comprehensive study to develop appropriate options for the alignment of Accessions Command and other commands that fulfill human resource functions. The decision will streamline the Army’s accessioning process and produce savings by de-layering the command structure without increasing the risk to the Army.

In his memorandum to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of the Army John McHugh outlined five decisions which include inactivating Army Accessions Command, realigning Army Recruiting Command and Cadet Command under the Army Training and Doctrine Command, and continuing to align Human Resources Command under the deputy chief of staff, G-1.

Over the next year to 18 months this inactivation is expected to create economic savings through manpower reductions, including the elimination of two general officer and 65 other military positions, approximately 130 civilian positions, and 290 contractor man-years.

This action is not related to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure reduction-in-force notices being given to the residual U.S. Army Armor Center and School civilian employees at Fort Knox, Ky.

Within 60 days of the April 19, 2011, directive, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower & Reserve Affairs (ASA M&RA), Thomas Lamont, will present McHugh a phased implementation plan addressing issues associated with the inactivation of Accessions Command. The realignment calls for the establishment of an Army Marketing and Research Group (for national and corporate marketing and research) as a field operating agency to ASA M&RA in the Military District of Washington.

Additionally, the Accessions Support Brigade will be retained and aligned to the Army Marketing and Research Group as a direct reporting unit. It will remain at Fort Knox.

By: Brant

20 April 2011

Co-Director of Restrepo Killed in Libya

The LA Times is reporting that the award-winning co-director of the documentary Restrepo was killed while reporting on the war in Libya.

Reporting from Misurata, Libya— Tim Hetherington, an award-winning news photographer and Oscar-nominated co-director of the documentary "Restrepo," was killed Wednesday in an explosion in the Libyan city of Misurata, doctors and colleagues reported.

At least three other photojournalists were injured in the blast, which was believed to have been caused by a mortar round. The rebel-held city in western Libya has been under attack for several weeks by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi.

By: Brant

Australia In Action: F/A-18 Refueling

FA-18 Hornets during a refuelling mission with an Omega 707 Tanker.

image from Australian MoD

By: Widow 6-7

GameTalk - Maps

Redmond Simonsen once said
The designer should never lose sight of the fact that most gamers are deeply influenced by the game map: a good map goes a long way towards creating a positive impression of the game. Since the map is the most constantly used component, it should be the most effective in doing its job of providing the basic environment for the game.

What do you like in a map? What do you dislike? What can't you live without? What will immediately make you hate it? Give some examples of game maps you like/dislike. And if you include a link to an image in your comments, we'll come back and edit this post to present a few of them.

By: Brant

Leave No Man Behind: Multiple Conflict Edition

Another POW is coming home from the Korean conflict.

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Cpl. John W. Lutz, 21, of Kearny, N.J., will be buried tomorrow at Arlington National Cemetery. From May 16-20, 1951, Task Force Zebra, a multinational force made up of Dutch, French, and U.S. forces, was attacked and isolated into smaller units. Lutz, of the 1st Ranger Infantry Company, part of Task Force Zebra, went missing while his unit was attempting to infiltrate enemy lines near Chaun-ni, South Korea, along the Hongcheon River Valley.

After the 1953 armistice, surviving POWs said Lutz had been captured by enemy forces on May 19, marched north to a POW camp in Suan County, North Korea, and died of malnutrition in July 1951.

Between 1991-94, North Korea gave the United States 208 boxes of remains believed to contain the remains of 200-400 servicemen. North Korean documents turned over with one of the boxes indicated the remains inside were exhumed near Suan County. This location correlates with the corporal’s last known location.

Analysts from DPMO developed case leads with information spanning more than 58 years. Through interviews with surviving POW eyewitnesses, experts validated circumstances surrounding the soldier’s captivity and death, confirming wartime documentation of his loss.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used dental comparisons and mitochondrial DNA – which matched that of his niece—in the identification of the remains.

Another servicemember is coming back from WWII.

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Martin P. Murray, 21, of Lowell, Mass., will be buried on April 16 in Marshfield, Mass. Murray, along with 11 other crew members, took off on Oct. 27, 1943, in their B-24D Liberator from an airfield near Port Moresby, New Guinea. Allied plans were being formulated to mount an attack on the Japanese redoubt at Rabaul, New Britain. The crew’s assigned area of reconnaissance was the nearby shipping lanes in the Bismarck Sea. But during their mission, they were radioed to land at a friendly air strip nearby due to poor weather conditions. The last radio transmission from the crew did not indicate their location. Multiple search missions in the following weeks did not locate the aircraft.

Following World War II, the Army Graves Registration Service conducted searches for 43 missing airmen, including Murray, in the area but concluded in June 1949 that all were unrecoverable.

In August 2003, a team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) received information on a crash site from a citizen in Papua New Guinea while it was investigating another case. The citizen also turned over an identification card from one of the crew members and reported that there were possible human remains at the site of the crash. Twice in 2004 other JPAC teams attempted to visit the site but were unable to do so due to poor weather and hazardous conditions at the helicopter landing site. Another team was able to successfully excavate the site from January to March 2007 where they found several identification tags from the B-24D crew as well as human remains.

By: Brant

19 April 2011


Today's a fairly busy day in the recent history...

1985 – FBI siege on the compound of The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSAL) in Arkansas

1989 – A gun turret explodes on the USS Iowa, killing 47 sailors.

1993 – The 51-day siege of the Branch Davidian building outside Waco, Texas, USA, ends when a fire breaks out. Eighty-one people die.

1995 – Oklahoma City bombing: The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA, is bombed, killing 168. That same day convicted murderer Richard Wayne Snell, who had ties to one of the bombers, Timothy McVeigh, is executed in Arkansas.

(from Wikipedia...)

By: Brant

(Another) Major Force Reduction in Europe

The DOD has announced that they're bringing home another 2 brigades from Germany.

The Department of Defense announced today that it is revising its 2004 plan to withdraw two of its four brigade combat teams (BCTs) from Europe. Based on the administration's review, consultations with allies and the findings of NATO's new Strategic Concept, the department will retain three BCTs in Europe to maintain a flexible and rapidly deployable ground force to fulfill the United States' commitments to NATO, to engage effectively with allies and partners, and to meet the broad range of 21st century challenges. This decision will be implemented in 2015, when we project a reduced demand on our ground forces.

The three BCTs remaining in Europe after 2015 -- the Heavy, Stryker and Airborne BCTs -- offer capabilities that enable U.S. European Command to build partner capacity and to meet interoperability objectives while supporting the full range of military operations, including collective defense of our NATO allies under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.

This BCT mix will be complemented by other capability enhancements, including the forward deployment of Aegis ships, land-based missile defense systems in Poland and Romania as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, forward-stationing of special operations aircraft, and a permanent aviation detachment in Poland. Taken together, these measures will enhance and rebalance the U.S. force posture in Europe to make it more capable, more effective, and better aligned with current and future security challenges.

By: Brant

Sound Off! Terrorists vs Criminals

Would you rather spend your counterinsurgency time hunting...

Terrorists who kill innocents for the hell of it?

Criminals with a profit/power motive?

Create your target profiles in the comments with your thoughts!

By: Brant

Brits to Send Military Advisors to Libya

The BBC is reporting that the British MoD is sending military officers to Libya to advise the rebels there.

British military officers will be sent to Libya to advise rebels fighting Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's forces, the UK government has said.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said the group would be deployed to the opposition stronghold of Benghazi.

The BBC understands 10 officers will provide logistics and intelligence training in a UK and French operation.

Mr Hague said it was compatible with the UN resolution on Libya, which ruled out foreign military ground action.

He stressed that the officers would not be involved in any fighting and the move was needed to help protect civilians.

The UN Security Council resolution, passed in March, authorised a no-fly zone over Libya.

Mr Hague said: "The [UK] National Security Council has decided that we will now move quickly to expand the team already in Benghazi to include an additional military liaison advisory team.

"This contingent will be drawn from experienced British military officers."

By: Brant

Next to Be Outlawed: Walking Upright

Wow. Just wow. Is Iran really going to outlaw dog ownership?

For much of the past decade, the Iranian government has tolerated what it considers a particularly depraved and un-Islamic vice: the keeping of pet dogs.
During periodic crackdowns, police have confiscated dogs from their owners right off the street; and state media has lectured Iranians on the diseases spread by canines. The cleric Gholamreza Hassani, from the city of Urmia, has been satirized for his sermons railing against "short-legged" and "holdable" dogs. But as with the policing of many other practices (like imbibing alcoholic drinks) that are deemed impure by the mullahs but perfectly fine to many Iranians, the state has eventually relaxed and let dog lovers be.
Those days of tacit acceptance may soon be over, however. Lawmakers in Tehran have recently proposed a bill in parliament that would criminalize dog ownership, formally enshrining its punishment within the country's Islamic penal code. The bill warns that that in addition to posing public health hazards, the popularity of dog ownership "also poses a cultural problem, a blind imitation of the vulgar culture of the West."
my emphasis

So what else is "a blind imitation of the vulgar culture of the West"? Lunch? Alarm clocks? Walking upright? Soccer? Cars?

By: Brant

Commander in Chief?

Yes, we inject politics into GrogNews on a regular basis, but we not to let it dominate what we do, unlike some other mil-blogs. That said, I've been watching a lot of news lately and a lot of it is talking up the 2012 election and Donald Trump; even Doonesbury has an arc running on Donald right now. People want to talk about how he talks to people, how he 'fights back at people,' how he has a (supposed) understanding of solid business numbers, etc.

That said, we've got a particular frame of reference here in mil-blog land, and I can't help but watch Trump in all his speeches and think "Oy! I cannot possibly imagine him as the commander-in-chief of our nation's military." Am I the only one thinking this? I hope not...

By: Brant

18 April 2011

UK In Action: Dust Patrol

Soldiers from 9 Parachute Squadron 23 Engineer Regiment are pictured patrolling in a Jackal vehicle during construction of the next phase of Route Trident in Helmand, Afghanistan. This particular phase of the major road building project has seen the engineers tackle a challenging piece of terrain known as the “Culvert of Doom” close to the Patrol base at Nahidullah. The road is being solidly constructed using carpet-like membranes, tough plastic neo cells and high quality aggregates and stone, which should hold together well despite heavy vehicles and harsh weather conditions. Local people themselves are being employed to carry out some of the work which brings welcome cash into the area's economy. The route itself will enable trade and commerce for many years to come. The engineers have heavily committed to an operation to build across the Loy Mandeh. In the clear phase, the combat engineers provided explosive breaching to enable 2 Scots to break into insurgent strongholds. Holding work included the reinforcing of compounds, and the construction of Sangers. Route Trident is now being extended across the Mandeh. The terrain is harsh and challenging; requiring plenty of airborne initiative.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Monday Video: If I Die Tomorrow

With a soundtrack by Mötley Crüe, this Monday video is musical and video BANG.

By: Brant

17 April 2011

Thoughts on Recon in Wargaming

Originally written by moi in response to a discussion of recon in the Battles Magazine folder at CSW...

There are a lot of games with good spotting rules (I happen to like LnL), but once you spot, you have perfect intel. There's no spotting with "a squad in the woods" and no idea of the capabilities. You see it perfectly or you don't see it at all. It's rare in a boardgame to have the reaction of "Holy crap! I knew there was something over there, but I thought it was just a couple of lost guys, not 3 machine guns!"

It's also rare that you even have a maintenance collection point on the map, much less some overeager scout call back on the radio in a panic hollering "there's 11 tanks over this hill!" when only 3 of them will actually move under their own power.

And that's just the tactical level. At the operational level, as soon as anyone in your force sees the enemy, everyone sees the enemy. There's no time lag in reporting, or any radio retrans issues that might keep someone from accurately reporting the location of an enemy unit from 50km away.

Finally, and really most importantly, because so many of the real-world "unknowns" are "known" on the tabletop, it's hard to even develop a solid recon plan that would be designed to inform you of things you need at decision points. With hindsight, everyone charges into Gettysburg like it's Ragnarok. Was that was really happened on the ground? Wasn't there a lot more bumbling and misinformation floating around than we allow for in the game?

Recon is designed to not just find bad guys, but find the right kind of information about the bad guy in a timely fashion for you to make key decisions as you execute your plan. For those specific purposes, recon units are designed, organized, equipped, and employed.

Given that so many of their objectives are completed as soon as you cut the shrinkwrap, it's a challenge to find an appropriate use of them in battle, without simultaneously putting them into play where they could sway some other part of the battle where they never would've been present (this is especially true when light cav isn't used for recon in games between 1740-1870 or so). If you take them out of their recon role, but instead use them elsewhere as just another fighting force (many WW3/Germany games are bad about this) then you've dramatically altered the shape of the battle in a way that would never happen.

What we tried to do with the Warfighter games was to give recon units something to do other than just be another set of guns on the battlefield. They are given specific tasks that emulate - but can't ever truly replicate - their actual employment on the battlefield. This keeps you from just adding extra guns to the fight while still keeping them in the battle. It also makes the counter-recon fight more important because you deny the opponent victory points if you can defeat the recon.

By: Brant

16 April 2011

Digging Up Old Articles for the Humor

Wow. StrategyPage really whiffed on their predictions of the worst things that can happen if Iraq is invaded. Read the last one for the best rueful laugh.

  1. Iraq successfully uses chemical, biological or nuclear weapons against U.S. troops, Israel or even Turkey, Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. Kill at several hundred Americans and the U.S. has said it would retaliate with nukes. Unlikely, but depending on which way the media runs, America could be seen as heroic or foolish for being on the receiving end of this. Any Iraqi use of "weapons of mass destruction" would not change the outcome of the war. The U.S. is trying to avoid this situation by pointing out that all Iraqis who have anything to do with the use of these weapons against Americans would be hunted down and prosecuted. In the Arab world, it is recognized that the Americans can be very relentless, and successful, in this department. Iraq still loses the war.

  2. Terrorists, either Iraqi sponsored or doing it in the name of "the Iraqi people" pull off another massive terrorist attack and kill several hundred, or more, Americans. Again, won't change the outcome of the war. Iraq still loses the war.

  3. Saddam convinces thousands of hard core supporters to fight to the death. This causes all of them to die in particularly messy ways, along with thousands of civilians who could not get out of the way fast enough. Several hundred Americans also die and large chunks of Baghdad get smashed. Iraq still loses the war.

  4. After the fighting begins, Saudi Arabia changes its mind and closes it's airbases to American aircraft and stops shipping oil. The latter is very unlikely, as Saudi Arabia is broke, in debt and needs to sell lots of oil just to prevent a popular uprising. Iraq still loses the war.

  5. Civil war breaks out in Iraq between die hard Sunnis (Saddam's power base), Shia militias (that have been maintaining training camps in Iran) and Kurds. None of this would last long. The invasion is largely to stomp on Saddam's Sunni backers and that will happen no matter what. The Turks will take care of any violent Kurds, something the Turks have been doing quite handily for over a thousand years. The Shia militias couldn't defeat the Republican Guard, and they certainly can't defeat the U.S. Army. Iraq still loses the war.

  6. After the fighting is over, the Iraqi people become angry at the United States (for liberating them from Saddam?). Anyway, widespread unrest attracts the international media which proceeds to say unkind things about America. Saddam is not returned to power.

  7. The Palestinians redouble their terrorism efforts, and the unrest spreads to Jordan (where Palestinians make up a majority of the population.) Palestinians in Jordan attempt to over throw the monarchy. Whether they succeed or not, Iraq still loses the war.

  8. Saddam's flunkies follow orders and set fire to many of Iraq's oil fields and facilities. When this was done in Kuwait, the fires were put out and the damage repaired within a year. It cost nearly $6 billion, which was a lot less than many expected. If the Iraqi oil fields burn, Iraq still loses, and has plenty of oil revenue to pay for the repairs.

  9. The Kurds try to advance south and take the Kirkuk and Mosul oil fields. Turkey says no, and sends in troops. Kurds don't stand a chance against Turks (never have.) Maybe the Turks decide to keep northern Iraq. In any event, Iraq still loses the war.

  10. An Iraqi underground resistance develops after Saddam is defeated. Iraqi guerillas fight on against American occupiers and their Iraqi lackeys. America finds itself in another Vietnam. While Iraqis have never, in their several thousand years of history, operated like this, it is a worst, worst case. Iraq still loses the war.
By: Brant

Africa's Next Meltdown: Burkina Faso?

There's a mutiny at the presidential barracks, and the elected leader is dropping out of sight.

Soldiers in Burkina Faso's capital have mutinied, with gunfire resounding throughout Ouagadougou overnight.

The BBC's Mathieu Bonkoungou says President Blaise Compaore is understood to have fled the presidential palace, where the trouble started at 2100 GMT.

Members of the presidential guard started shooting into the air in protest at unpaid housing subsidies.

Mr Compaore, in power since 1987, had sought to calm soldiers earlier this month after similar complaints.

Our reporter in the city says the unrest spread to other barracks and firing went on until just before dawn - it is unclear where the president went after he reportedly left the palace before midnight.

A source in the presidency has told the AFP news agency that he is now back in the capital after going to his hometown overnight but this has not been confirmed.

By: Brant

15 April 2011

Random Friday Wargaming: Risk. Yes, Risk. Specifically, Risk: Balance of Power

Look, everyone played Risk growing up. Admit it, you did. It was the one of only two military-themed games you could find at Wal-Mart or TG&Y or Roses or whatever (Stratego was the other one...) Well thank heavens that they've decided to produce a variety of Risk variants, many of which fix two inherent problems in the basic game: no differentiation of units, and no real scaling of production. Sure, you could house-rule it, but then you end up arguing over house rules. How about just redesigning the game? The variants for GodStorm, 2210AD, and Lord of the Rings were all actually pretty good. Now comes the new variant, Risk: Balance of Power.

OK, so the arrows look goofy and you probably want to swap them out for A&A minis or something else cooler. But it is a better game than the original Risk.

You can actually discuss Risk at ConsimWorld Forum, but tellingly, it's filed in the "family games" section...

Check out all the variants at Hasbro's RISK page.

Master links/images from Boardgamegeek.com; message boards linked to Consimworld. Other links to the actual game pages...

By: Brant

Who's *Really* Going to Origins?

Now that we're looking at the details of the Origins War College, we're going to ask again... There's still a ton of nifty things happening in Columbus this summer at the intersection of wargaming, training, and current military affairs so if you're not already planning to be there, you're wrong!

By: Brant

What If...? A Change in WWI History

Looking for something else entirely online, I stumbled across an old discussion board thread asking what would've happened if the US had sided with Germany in WWI. Now keep in mind we're talking about WWI here, not WWII, so leave any discussions of the Nazis out of it - they weren't present in 1915 in any significant numbers.

Anyhow, some other folks were talking about the military ramifications, like Britain having to spread their fleet around the world. I threw out the following comments:

Forgetting the Western front for a second:

What happens on the Eastern Front if the Germans don't have as many forces committed to the Western front? What happens to the Balkans if the Austro-Hungarian Empire isn't hacked up after the war?

Assuming a German victory in the west, coupled with the same Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and Austria likely takes significant chunks of Italian/Yugoslavian coast, from Venice to Dubrovnik, at least. The Ottoman Empire still falls apart. Iraq/Palestine are under German influence rather than British, and the Suez Canal may change hands. Similarly, the German colonies in Africa aren't parceled out among other nations.

More importantly, while the Brits and French likely plot their revenge on Germany - and the US - the Nazi party never rises in Germany. A WWII is still likely, given the unresolved state of armistices at the time, and imminent rise of Japanese militarism. But the Holocaust doesn't happen, Israel is perhaps founded, but treated much differently because the Jews aren't scarred by the memories of the Holocaust. German domination of the Middle East from the Suez to Hormuz results in an efficient bureaucratic system layered on top of Islam that may have suppressed more radical sects like Wahhabism. Our German allies would've maintained the flow of oil from the Arabian peninsula, without the US having to guarantee the continuation of the Saudi monarchy.

What happens to the Austrian Empire is still up in the air - given the mishmash of ethnicities within the empire, it might have looked like 1990s Yugoslavia, only (a) bigger, and (b) sooner. But given the connections with Germany (such as language) it's likely that some of it would've been absorbed into a greater German co-operation sphere. Poland and Czechoslovakia never know independence, but the Baltic states don't fall under Communist domination because of the proximity of Germany's borders.

I'd love for people smarter than me about this era of history to chime in and sound off about this. What do you think? How would it develop? What circumstances would you need for the US to enter the war on the German side? What would be the endgame? How does the peace treaty look?

By: Brant

14 April 2011

UK In Action: Challenger Storms the Beach

A Challenger 2 tank storms ashore during an amphibious capability exercise in Hampshire. Members from the 1st Mechanized Brigade were involved in the Maritime Component Power Demo held at Browndown Beach, Gosport on the 28th October 2010. The event took place in October 2010 for the ISCC (Immediate Staff Command Course) which involves Royal Marines coming a shore along with members from the Royal Welsh Regiment.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

First Fight Between Tanks

A nice computer-based animation of the WWI engagement between the Brits and Germans.

For a boardgame of the fight, check out the upcoming issue of Battles Magazine, which includes a free game of the engagement.

By: Brant

13 April 2011

Australia In Action: Dive Team Training

Navy Clearance Divers employed in the Maritime Tactical Operations (MTO) element are required to provide Shallow Water Mine Counter Measures (VSWMCM) detection and disposal. This involves reconnaissance of the seabed and areas to the back of the beach.

Clearance Divers in the MTO element are trained in subsurface insertion and extraction, with the ability to use small arms and tactics when required. They work in small teams and are versatile in how and where they can be employed at short notice. This includes counter Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) through to counter-piracy boarding operations.

High levels of mental and physical toughness are intrinsic qualities of a Clearance Diver, as is team work.

image from Australian MoD

By: Widow 6-7

GameTalk - Wargame Periods/Eras

There are a lot of historical eras covered by wargames out there. WWII, Napoleonics, and American Civil War are some of the most popular. Hypothetical WWIII games have also proliferated, and the Arab-Israeli wars over the past 70 years have kept everyone busy gaming for a while.

Pick an era and tell us what you think is the most important consideration in designing a wargame within that period.

If your talking about Napoleonics, tell us what wargame concern is either unique to that era, or an over-riding concern. How does it change by the time ACW rolls around?

By: Brant

12 April 2011

Ancient Persian "Chess"

How to play chess like a Persian.

The form of chess we play today is just over 500 years old. And our conventional design of chess pieces, the Staunton style, has only been around for about a century and a half.

But before our modern chess spread across Europe, there was an older form of chess, lasting for almost 1000 years, with its own rules and with its own conventional playing pieces. This older form existed in Persia before the 7th century Muslim conquest. It then spread across the expanding Arab world, through northern Africa, and throughout Europe — all the while maintaining the same set of rules and the same style of chessmen.

Although some minor variations did occur, the basic game remained the same, lasting centuries and spanning continents.

The conventional shapes of the ancient chess pieces are rather mysterious. Generally speaking, they are simplified abstractions based on familiar carvings of the pieces they represent: The King (on elephant back), his Counselor (also riding an elephant) an Elephant warrior (the tusks are apparent), a Horse (the protruding nose identifies this piece), a Chariot (a V-shaped groove somehow indicates a chariot).

The rules given here are the best available account of how the game of chess (Persian chatrang; Arabic shatranj) was played in Persia, probably as long ago as the 6th century A.D.

By: Brant