4a. Professional Wargames

While no general umbrella site for professional wargaming exists, there is a great deal of interesting professional wargaming material on the web, if you're diligent enough to dig around and find it.  The following are a few sites that are especially useful or interesting.


Naval War College's Page of Military Journals Online
A listing of online military journals, where articles dealing with professional wargames are most likely to be found online.

The Navy RMA War Game Series, Captain Edward A. Smith, Jr. ,USN

Describes recent seminar-style wargames conducted by Naval Departments to analyze the "revolution in military affairs" that new technology has created.


USA Armor Center

From the U.S. Army Directorate of Training and Doctrine Development Headquarters. A site for the promotion of tactical doctrine. Be sure to check out the tactical vignettes page, which provides cavalry and armor wargame problems in much the same vein as chess problems.

Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC)
Based in Fort Polk, Louisiana, the Joint Readiness Training Center hosts wargames involving a U.S. operation on the fictional Isle of Aragon in the Atlantic Ocean.  The wargame generally lasts about 10 days.

The Advanced Warfighting Experiment (AWE) for Dummies

A nice, brief article explaining how the Army's new technology has changed warfare.  The article is not technically about gaming, but it demonstrates the fact that technology may make it hard to distinguish between warfare and wargames.US Army graphic

Learning from Wargames, Robert B. Killebrew

Describes recent (post 1996) military-political games at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Offers some interesting perspectives about the value of military-political games in a post-cold war environment.

The Terrain Model: A Miniature Battlefield, by Captain John T. Chenery 

Can professional and miniatures wargaming overlap?  Apparently, yes.

Most Air Force wargaming seems to take place at the Maxwell Air Force base in Alabama, the location of the Air Force Wargaming Institute.

War Gaming, Thinking for the Future, Lt Col David B. Lee, USAF
A fun and short article advocating increased use of wargaming by the USAF.  Lots of the standard information -- even a brief discussion of Charturanga.

CADRE: The College of Aerospace Doctrine, Research and Education
Cadre's main page has some wargame information.  The site also hosts a sub-page that links to information on Air Force wargames.Diagram of the Global Engagement game

Global Engagement

A USAF global game hosted at Maxwell--primarily focused on aerospace issues.


Prairie Warrior

An extensive wargame organized by the Command and General Staff College.  The site has an interesting history page that details the considerable scope of Prairie Warrior and also adequately demonstrates the acronym mania that infects professional wargaming.

JLASS - Joint Land, Air, & Sea Simulation

This game incorporates all six senior level colleges (USAWC, CNW, AWC, MCWAR, NWC, and ICAF) in a joint wargame that culminates in a simulation conducted at Maxwell Air Force Base.



A joint civilian and professional wargame seminar held at Maxwell Air Force Base.  The seminar hosts some big names in the field of commercial and quasi-professional wargaming.


An umbrella site to collect military doctrine resources from all over the net.  Run by the Federation of American Scientists.  Worth visiting.

Sun Tzu - The Art of War

The best, and oldest, guide to essential strategy


Some of the best resources for learning about professional wargames are in the old media:

Peter P. Perla, The Art of Wargaming (1990), Naval Institute Press. 
<On Amazon.com>

Perla's book is probably the best place to start in studying professional wargames, though he spends considerable time describing and advocating serious study of hobby games as well. In the Part I of the book, Perla presents an excellent history of hobby and professional games, with particular emphasis placed on naval wargaming, his particular area of expertise.  Part II of the book is the most interesting section, as Perla theorizes wargaming activity and attempts to find some fundamental principles for wargame design.  One shortcoming of the book is its age--the ten years elapsed since the book's publication makes much of its discussion of computer wargames seem somewhat quaint.  Still, the theory and history is top-notch.

Thomas B. Allen, War Games (1986), McGraw-Hill. 
<On Amazon.com>

Allen's book focuses almost exclusively on professional wargames, though occasionally it does venture into hobby gaming.  The book's tone is journalistic and literary, with extended digressions and chapters on topics such as "Gaming Guerilla War" and "In the Theater of Terrorism."  Allen seems fascinated by the secrecy of wargaming and the political dimensions of professional wargaming efforts.  At its best moments, the book paints some marvelous vignettes of wargaming and shares some great tidbits: such as the wargame at the Reagan White House where cheers erupted after Moscow was obliterated with nuclear weapons.  At times, though, the book rambles and seems a bit thin on theory and thesis.

Garry D. Brewer & Martin Shubik, The War Game (1979), Rand Corporation.
<On Amazon.com>

Chapters one to three of Brewer and Shubik's book form an excellent concise guide to the theory and history of professional wargaming.  The next three parts are of more historical interest, as they generally focus on the cost-benefit problems of wargames and factual data about the state of professional wargaming in 1979.  Again, the age of the book makes some of its insights about computer-based wargames (called machine games) quite out of date.  Appendix A is an unexpected surprise, offering some wonderful insights into the problems of evaluating wargames.

Paul K. Davis & Others, Rand Papers & Notes
Rand regularly publishes a variety of useful material on professional wargames.  Topics include the use of time in simulations, the problem of simulating oppositional strategy, and the nature of cyberwar.  The papers are generally concise, well-written, and fairly accessible to non-professionals. 

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