A&A as a training tool for ROTC cadets


  • 2016 2015 '14 Customizer

    You still have to make decisions based on the parameters in front of you, use the situation to your advantage, work with others for common goals, mislead the enemy, attack where the enemy is weak, defend where you are weak, etc.  I think there is some value in these basic skills. Also, A&A is a great “gateway” for new players who may want to move on later to more complicated games. I think what you are doing with the ROTC guys is a great idea!



  • @rjpeters70:

    A and A is at best a game of grand strategy.  It has zero operational or tactical utility.  Hence, I’m not sure why you’d use it for ROTC guys, who will be doing tactical stuff for well over the first decade of their career.  They won’t even start to think about operational stuff until they are 05s at the earliest.

    Most of the games/exercises I run are at the strategy to grand strategy level.  I am going to an operational to strategy level game in Newport in a couple months.  We’ll have Blue, Green, Red, Orange, Yellow, and White (control) cells all playing in separate rooms over five days.  About a hundred of us.  Kind of excited, as the most complex game I’ve played is a forty person, three cell game over three days.

    But for ROTC?  A and A is borderline useless as a training tool.  Fun?  Yes.  Educational?  No.

    I think you’re absolutely wrong in your assessment on the training value of using this as a training tool.

    These kids are first year cadets, it’s about the concepts, not the strategy. There are fundamental concepts that work from the squad all the way up to the Army level that can be displayed through this game. Also, If you had read the rest of the thread, you would have seen that over time, I plan on scaling back the scope of the games to the point where they’re working at a platoon/company.

    As a matter of fact, just this last weekend I playtested a concept using Flames of War as a base for being a commander in an operation. A Marine friend of mine shot me an WARNO/OPORD 2 days before the “operation” with a map he made displaying my “battle space”. He then took “recon” photos of the surrounding terrain and of a village I was to defend against an opponent that vastly outnumbered me. I deployed my forces through either Facebook instant message or text while they updated via the same devices, rolled the die, moved the individual pieces, and acted the part of squad leaders/ platoon leaders when reporting. I had a time limit to make decisions based off the intelligence I had on hand. My opponent was 400 miles away doing the same thing with his force simultaneously to me. It worked out brilliantly.

    Eventually I’m going to work this all out. My concept is that if they see where they fall in the big picture, then it will become easier to understand the consequences of the decisions they’ll make as platoon leaders/ company commanders. In today’s current COIN/stability operations type setting, a platoons or even a teams actions can very much have strategic consequences. THAT’S the training value of it. Not to mention it is going to develop the portion of their brains that causes them to execute good judgement and being able to foresee 2nd, 3rd, and 4th order effects to the decisions they make. Let’s face it, how much practice does an 18 year old kid have at making good judgement calls? It’s a learned behavior that needs to be exercised just like anything else. 1st year curriculum for ROTC is not going to give that to them. This way, I can ask those questions about what their thought process is while at the same time give them tidbits on how it matters at the company level.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @rjpeters70:

    And Redleg, my comment is really less pointed at you, and more at those on these boards (not going to name names) who seem to think that because they play a lot of A and A, they would have known the correct thing to do in World War II, or could have done a better job of it, if they were simply made warlord of a particular campaign, that’s all.

    Peter Perla mentions this problem in his book on wargaming, and he likewise cautions against it.  I think he calls it “the Rommel delusion” or something along those lines.



  • I know it is an A&A forum and i Think your project is great.  Since A&A covers the global war, you should give � try to Memoir’44 by days of wonders for the local war

    The basic game is quite basic but can get tricky with some extensions (go to days of wonders site and see for yourself). If you put 2 boards togheter (overlord) you can make them experiment � chain of command (especially with USSR).

    All of the battle are real scenarios of WW2, so there’s also an historical value.  The replayability is already infinite because There are � huge community who post scenarios on the official forum.

    Defenitly worth a look and it will complete the A&A teachings (strategic and tactics with A&A and tactics and operational with M44)

    Also, the game never last more than two hours (with an overcrowded overlord)



  • @rjpeters70:

    "There are fundamental concepts that work from the squad all the way up to the Army level that can be displayed through this game."� Which ones?� Honest question.� I’m just not sure what concepts could be learned from A and A that can be transferred to the platoon/company level.

    "As a matter of fact, just this last weekend I playtested a concept using Flames of War as a base for being a commander in an operation. A Marine friend of mine shot me an WARNO/OPORD 2 days before the “operation” with a map he made displaying my “battle space”. He then took “recon” photos of the surrounding terrain and of a village I was to defend against an opponent that vastly outnumbered me. I deployed my forces through either Facebook instant message or text while they updated via the same devices, rolled the die, moved the individual pieces, and acted the part of squad leaders/ platoon leaders when reporting. I had a time limit to make decisions based off the intelligence I had on hand. My opponent was 400 miles away doing the same thing with his force simultaneously to me. It worked out brilliantly."� That’s great.� There’s real learning opportunities there for ROTC members.� But that’s not A and A.

    "In today’s current COIN/stability operations type setting, a platoons or even a teams actions can very much have strategic consequences."� Except we will not be doing large-scale COIN/stability operations for at least another decade.� The NSS and JOC make that clear.� A2AD fights will be far more central to our national posture.

    "THAT’S the training value of it. Not to mention it is going to develop the portion of their brains that causes them to execute good judgement and being able to foresee 2nd, 3rd, and 4th order effects to the decisions they make."� Possibly, but wouldn’t chess do the same thing?

    I guess for me, I’d much rather my 01s and 02s be focused on the tactical and developing leadership qualities.� By 03, start learning about the actual things that make our military successful (logistics and an empowered NCO corps).� By 04, doing staff work.� 05, learning the Joint world and operational art.�

    I just think that 18-22 year old ROTC folks need to focus on the tactical, because that’s their job.� The game you described sounds like a good way to do that.� I’m a proponent of games, so long as game designs are linked up to specific learning objectives.

    How about, in the absence of orders a ANY decision is almost always better than no decision.

    Having a reserve for exploiting local success or for shoring up hard hit portions of the line is pretty freaking useful.

    The enemy has a say no matter if I’m a TL or 4 star.

    I have to account for the unknown and anticipate my enemies strategies.

    Timing and surprise are crucial to success and can compensate for many initial disadvantages.

    Does it make sense to attack a position if it will become untenable once taken?

    Or how about just asking the question “Does it all add up?” or “does this make sense?”

    I can create teaching points out of these off the top of my head by using Axis and Allies and I’m not going to overwhelm them with all the details necessary to be proficients at all the Battle Drills or everything the is going to be covered in FM 3-21.8 or learning the very complicated rules necessary to play a game like FoW. I have to build up to it in order to garner interest so the cadets will trust that when I’m doing something they’re not familiar with, it’s going to be worth them giving up their Friday night.

    If you think COIN or Stability operations are dead…well, I think you may be off base there a bit. The US has a real bad habit of assuming the enemy is going to comply with us wanting to break their Army in a Fulda gap type setting and it’s just not going to happen that way. More wars that we’ve fought have been the small, obscure, ugly wars by far. At this moment is seems the Army is purging its institutional knowledge that has been gained over the last 13 years just like it did after Vietnam. A2AD is a concept we have and will continue to employ no matter what i.e. that whole cold war thing we did for half a century. Same thing in Iraq after the 1st Gulf war with the NFZ etc.  I’m referring to the shooting type of war or the occupation type war…they aren’t going away and even before 9/11 we were heavily involved in them.

    Seems everyone wants to be the first to jump ship on the grunts and gravitate towards the “cyber war” or “drone war” or “insert fancy gizmo that’s going to replace the grunts”…and it never happens. Then that LT is out there all alone, under trained, under equipped, utterly ignorant of his/her surroundings because the enemy decided to not fight our fight. I’m preparing them for that moment. I think if they can understand the complexities involved in COIN/Stability/ low-medium intensity conflict…everything else will come easy.



  • @rjpeters70:

    And Redleg, my comment is really less pointed at you, and more at those on these boards (not going to name names) who seem to think that because they play a lot of A and A, they would have known the correct thing to do in World War II, or could have done a better job of it, if they were simply made warlord of a particular campaign, that’s all.

    Understood, and that’s where my training as a historian comes in. Objectivity is the key here and they need to be able to understand that. Besides, if they start to exhibit the symptoms of hubris I will quickly do the sharp shooter rhetorical questions that will punch holes in their hubris logic! lol

    I’m trying to convey that wisdom and maturity isn’t knowing everything…it is realizing how much you DON’T know…



  • @rjpeters70:

    Ok, thanks. � Like I said, I was asking the question honestly. � It does seem like there are some concepts that can be applied to the tactical. �

    But COIN/stability ops isn’t small wars stuff. � It’s nation building, and I can’t imagine the U.S. getting involved in another Phase IV/V nation building activity anytime soon (apart from a collapse of DPRK). � And I’m not even talking about cyber wars stuff, I’m talking about large scale conventional war, potentially with a nuclear-armed adversary. � That to me is the biggest security challenge facing the US in the 2020-2030 timeframe. � That doesn’t mean that I’m jumping ship on the trigger pullers–it means the trigger pullers go back to the forefront of operations, and the snake-eaters go back to their more traditional role.

    “Then that LT is out there all alone, under trained, under equipped, utterly ignorant of his/her surroundings because the enemy decided to not fight our fight. I’m preparing them for that moment. I think if they can understand the complexities involved in COIN/Stability/ low-medium intensity conflict…everything else will come easy.” � Ok, back down, take it easy, and breathe. � Let’s not turn this into the lone ROTC-instructor versus the SCMR/CAPE/OSD. � No one is trying to make trigger pullers undertrained or underequipped because we don’t think we’ll be sending men into battle, because UAVs and the boys at Ft. Meade will be doing the fighting for us. � That’s a strawman argument to which no one actually subscribes.

    What people are doing is reposturing the force to fight a different kind of war than the ones we’ve fought for the past decade and a half. � So, in such a light, what do we want the force to achieve? � For what ends? � What’s the best way to posture the force, given national objectives and budgetary requirements. � Things like the DPG try to address those issues head on and in an intellectually honest way. �

    And if you think an 02 being prepared for a COIN operational environment makes him prepared to deal with anything–then how will COIN prepare him for say, episodic nuclear use by adversary within their own theater? � Because if you can answer that one, then my hat is off to you sir.

    You’ll have to forgive me for soapboxing it up…I do that sometimes, no harm no foul.

    Not just COIN, but stability ops i.e. peace keeping or the enforcement of NATO/UN treaties such as the Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo etc, example. None of them nation building but with a very real chance to break out into a small intensity conflict.

    I’m not necessarily convinced that high intensity conflict in on the US foreign policy horizon. Sure, there is a threat of it, as there has always been. Yet, I really think if we go to war with, say, a country like China or Russia it won’t be on the order of WWII. I don’t think either would risk a war with us which would seriously damage their economic growth that they’ve both managed to achieve through a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. That’s assuming we still manage to operate on the world stage and don’t implode on ourselves due to being spent into the ground trying to keep up with the Jone’s in the military and global market.

    As for the nuclear question about that LT dealing with a nuclear strike in their battle space…that’s all 10 level skill sets that every soldier trains on anyways. As far as I know, responding to a CBRN threat is still a soldiers common skill task and that LT would follow his units SOP/TTP’s in dealing with that specific threat. Besides, if the balloon ever went up and you were witness to a mushroom cloud growing over your position…it’s really a matter of time before you and 95% of your contingent are dead anyways. You’re simply postponing the inevitable until fresh bodies can move forward to continue the fight.

    The point about COIN/stability ops preparing for most types of situations is because of the nuances involved that aren’t necessarily experienced in HIC. Soldiers can go from direct action TIC’s, to giving out soccer balls to kids, to evacuating wounded from an IED, to conducting a KLE all within an afternoon. Those same LT’s also will be usually operating autonomously in their own AO’s, making their own targeting packages, vetting their own sources, and co-ordinating dialogue between the local population and their own mission objectives…while remaining vigilant to ensure force protection and fighting the enemy actions all at the same time. That LT is more of a surgeons tool in this regard.

    Whereas if the fight is high intensity (I think the battle of Fallujah is a good example of a high intensity fight even though the war itself wasn’t) your mission as an LT is pretty straight forward. Kill the enemy, take your objectives. Support by fire, maneuver. Co-ordinate assets, set the conditions, repeat. Violence of action, violence of action, violence of action…That LT is more of a sledgehammer…

    That’s the point I was trying to make.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Redleg13A:

    Besides, if the balloon ever went up and you were witness to a mushroom cloud growing over your position…it’s really a matter of time before you and 95% of your contingent are dead anyways. You’re simply postponing the inevitable until fresh bodies can move forward to continue the fight.

    If I remember correctly, Richard Armour’s satirical book on the history of warfare, “It All Started with Stones and Clubs,” has a section on A-bombs and H-bombs which includes a footnote stating that the hydrogen bomb utilizes the same thermonuclear reaction processes which power the sun, and therefore that if one should explode in your vicinity it is recommended that you look at it through a piece of smoked glass to prevent eye damage.



  • So, I haven’t posted here in a while but I have been doing the additional instruction throughout the semester. Here are some pics and products of what we’ve done. We started with Axis and Allies and moved our way down to flames of war but without them being able to see their pieces.

    download3.jpg
    download4.jpg



  • We would issue the cadets these products about 5 days before a battle. They would have to use them to plan their missions (one for BLUFOR side and one for OPFOR side). I would assign a commander, XO, 1SG, etc and they would have to work as that team and assume those roles throughout the duration of the operation. For instance, if the platoons were sending up reports that kept track of their ammo and water but the XO failed to send up his report to me in what we call a “BLUE 2” report, then after 2 turns all platoons in that company would only be able to move half the distance normal and shoot at half their normal rate of fire.

    All actions by each side were simultaneous so we could take out as much war gaming as possible. The opposing sides were also fighting each other from different rooms and using a facebook page function(Tactical Decision Making is the page) to issue orders and receive feedback. The actual battlefield and pieces were 350 miles away where “referees” would move the pieces and report back casualties, enemy contact/disposition, terrain, etc

    The commander never has a clear picture of what the enemy is doing or what their plan is. They also can lose track of their own units if they don’t “battle track” their platoons and sections on the field.

    It was quite an enlightening experience.

    NVA Operations Map-Old French Mission-1.zip
    NVA OpOrder.zip



  • Here’s the order of battle and how the NVA commander set up their defenses.

    download6.jpg
    NVA, VC OoB.zip



  • And here’s what it looks like “on the ground”

    download7.jpg
    download8.jpg


  • '14 Customizer

    That is really cool.  Wish they had that around when I went to the military academy in 1980.  Flames of war is a better game designed for the experiment your using the chain of command.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Thanks for the pictures and the descriptions.  Out of curiosity, what kind of feedback did you get from your students on the enjoyability and learning value of these exercises?  Were there any notable “Aha!” moments in which you saw sudden-insight lightbulbs lighting up above some of the students?



  • The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and they had a fantastic time throughout the whole process.

    There were MANY “aha!” moments throughout the process. The scenerio I demonstrated on here was one of them. The NVA player had basically a perfect set up to lure the Americans into their prepared defenses and then destroy them in detail by overrunning their landing zones once the Americans were ambushed away from their LZs. The NVA commander had fantastic luck on the first turn and had an entire NVA company show up right at the southern drop zone. Instead of waiting to deploy them when they could be supported better by their other forces he attacked immediately and did in fact overrun the LZ…for a while… He then got tunnel vision and decided to attack all around the Americans because they seemed on the “brink” of being overwhelmed. The problem was that as they moved closer to the LZ’s they had to move out of the protection of the jungle and move into the more open elephant grass…which is a problem since the Americans can, at that point, employ massive supporting arms WHILE they maintain an open supply lines close to their LZ. He basically gave all his advantages of sitting and waiting it out, fighting the Americans on his terms and attacked prematurely to overrun the LZs, opening up himself to massive firepower by fighting on the Americans terms.

    On a previous one they learned that if you leave orders to be interpreted, then you should probably expect interpreted results from your subordinates. This scenario was an airborne drop in Sicily where they Americans needed to secure a town so that reinforcing units from the beachhead can link up and move on. The American commander wasn’t clear on where he wanted his drop zones to be, so his sticks got badly scattered all over the board. He got lucky and had a sherman platoon show up the first turn available and issued an order for them to move up to help the airborne troops. In the mass of information that they sent to the “referees” (their platoon leaders) that order either got overlooked or ignored. A turn later they figured out that their tanks weren’t in the right spot and they wanted me to have the referee move them to where they should since they did in fact issue the order…my reply was “Did you check to make sure your order was followed?”…crickets…my next question was “Do you think that when a unit is in contact the radios might get a bit busy?”…crickets…then finally “What’s your job as a leader?”…crickets…they realized that in the real world things get confusing very quickly and getting everyone on the same page is quite difficult…They never made that mistake again.

    There’s all kinds of examples I have of these types of incidents and the great thing about all this is that most of the cadets that participate are first year cadets…and the ones who come every week are now outperforming not only the other “firsties” but many of the 2nd and even 3rd year cadets…It’s all starting to “click” on the hows and whys!



  • I’m migrating to the 2nd year cadet instructor position which means I get to keep the guys, for the most part, that I had last year. Also, I’m working towards having this instruction block streamlined into the curriculum at my program because it appears to be quite effective.

    I plan on trying to get some participation from the Captains career course at Ft Sill to not only see where our holes are in the instruction, but also to validate the training. We have an ambitious plan this year, but with all the changes in cadet command, I imagine we might be able to get some official support to make this type of instruction more prevalent in an official capacity at my university.



  • @Cow:

    Try playing Battlefield 4 competitively. It is pretty bad for Joes that have PTSD as the gunshots are realistic and the combat experience is relatively similar.

    Good for squad based tactics against an equal size equally equipped squad. America is not always going to be picking on little guys forever. Personally I would never fight the Russians in a war unless the Russians declared it themselves, trust Putin more than Obama, trusted Putin more than Bush 10 years ago, nothing changed.

    No….no it’s not. At least not my combat experience anyways which includes the battles of Baghdad and the second battle of Fallujah…the FoW allows for a company sized or more fight. Battlefield can’t simulate lack of logistics, enemy capturing your intel, or you as a leader only working with part of the picture from a map. You can’t use pre planned fires, co-ordinate close air support, or ensure each platoon stays on line to prevent gaps where the enemy can slip through.

    Picking on little guys…seems to work just fine for them, if anything we will be fighting “little guys” for the foreseeable future. We’ve been doing it since we started this country. Ever since we’ve had an army there’s been some LT with his platoon all by themselves in the middle of nowhere tasked with doing a job that a battalion should be doing…the formula for success in a big war at the company level is pretty cut and dry. The formula for success in a “little guy” war is much more elusive because it requires finesse, study, and surgical precision direct action.



  • Read the whole thread.



  • You drove?…that’s it? Where were you at?

    Global is an introduction. It is good to show basic concepts. I had the first year cadets last year. After a few games of that we go down to the operational level with vignettes and a decision making process under a time standard. Then we go to the tactical level with the flames of war which has been modified to fit our needs. We’ve incorporated the troop leading procedures into each “battle” along with preplanned fires, mlcoa/mdcoa, commanders intent, terrain analysis, battle tracking, 9 line medevac/uxo, salt reports, and a living breathing opponent in real time. Oh, and they can’t see their pieces and they have to estimate the enemies location based off of subordinate leaders reports. Then, the consequences of the battle they’re fighting will be felt 2 weeks later when they have to fight the next one. That’s what we are working with in a nutshell.

    When did this become a discussion about the validity of the state? You’re the one who took the first shit. Not me. I don’t owe you an answer anyways. It likely wouldn’t matter the answer I give. I sense a bit of tea party rhetoric with your comments about the necessity of a civil war and enthusiasm for firearms. Saying this is a police state is a bit of a stretch. Wanting a civil war tells me you haven’t experienced how terrible combat really is. The thought of my children having to experience the things I have is simply unacceptable.

    I started the thread in global almost a year ago when I was new to the forum as well as new as an instructor . I started with global as evidenced by the pictures I posted of my cadets playing the game. I modified it over time thinking those that gave me good feedback and advice or showed genuine interest would like to know what was happening. You’re taking its place in the global section a little too hard. Why did you hijack the thread? What was the purpose of that? The moderators didn’t think it needed to move so what made you think it was your responsibility to kill it? Perhaps you’re omniscient and we are just ignorant of that fact. It was certainly a dick move. Explain it to me? Wearing your ideology and beliefs on your sleeve is never usually productive.

    Also, when and where were you stationed if I may ask? And when did you got to benning for osut if you were an 11B first…


  • 2017 2016

    I believe the military will also allow the rich and joyful to join. Part of being in a free country.  Redleg13A was discussing  G40 in the G40 forum and I see no harm or foul. I am looking forward to more of his posts.


  • '14 Customizer

    Today was not a good day for DESU in the year 1945?



  • Perhaps I should post all of the PMs he sent also. Mr cow claims to be a veteran and is apparently really angry with me for being in the military. I have reported many of his posts to the moderators so they can see that he is simply trying to derail this thread and is admittedly trying to troll me. I thought there were repercussions for that kind of conduct on this forum …am I wrong? I thought that part of the agreement that every member signs is that we won’t be discriminatory towards other members. Cow is clearly breaking that term of use…so, where are the mods I ask?

    To mr cow, you never served. Claiming to be a veteran when you’re not one is illegal and there is a new fervor in the US to catch these phonies. You’re not nearly as anonymous as you think you are…



  • I didn’t realize we were enemies…


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    Enough now Cow.


  • 2017 2016

    Years ago chess was the G40 of it’s day. A beginners guide to analysis. Much as G40 lends itself.    It could be used by any military instructor of any nation.  And on a side note these United States are the freest states in the world for the individual. You can’t beat it anywhere.  This nation of United States is the “shake-n-bake” of nation building. If all nations followed the rule book we follow, might find that militaries are no longer needed but be prepared for possible interplanetary encounters.  So G40 will still be useful in planting seeds or new conscripts.


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