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Refining Plans with Scenario-Based Operational Games

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Wars always require an opposing side. Wargames do not.

Military commanders routinely use wargames to test their force capabilities against Red Team opponents. Planners, however, may need to test their plans against a challenging environment rather than a Red Team. CNA’s wargaming experts regularly help these leaders with scenario-based operational planning games that bring structured thinking to the questions they face:

  • Are the plans for a new ship or system suited to the environment where it will be deployed?
  • How realistic are plans for foreign military cooperation in a humanitarian disaster?
  • How will changes to basing plans affect training and mobility?

These are just a few of the planning questions CNA has helped address with custom-designed games.

The process begins with a thorough exploration of the questions a decision-maker needs to address and the challenges of the operating environment. Wargame designers then draw upon our extensive internal network: CNA field representatives and scientific analysts closest to the relevant commands, subject matter experts, and regional specialists. The team for the game gathers relevant data to create a realistic scenario that will test and refine plans.

In the game itself, players respond to the scenario by developing plans that are challenged and evaluated, typically by command leadership or an external panel of experts selected in consultation with the sponsor. With each successive turn, players adjust their plans as they see how ideas perform in action. Often players learn as much from their own deliberations in preparation for each move as they do from the response.

In the end, with the benefit of CNA analysis of data from the game, participants will have a clearer idea of how to adapt their plans to the challenges they face. A natural next step is to test those plans in an exercise, a step CNA again stands ready to support with research and analysis.

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  • Publication Date: 6/18/2020