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Artificial Intelligence Implications: The Future of Modern Wargaming!


Image Courtesy of: Command: Modern Operations & Steam

Conflict, Research & Development, and Operations Research

We live in a world of conflict, which has continuously been a major factor in the change of world order throughout human existence. Countries across the world continue to spend tens of billions of dollars in hopes of maintaining their technological advantage over other nations in hopes of solidifying themselves on the center stage as world leaders. Through conflict, countries have been able to rapidly respond to wartime-related issues through the Research and Development (R&D) of technology from the likes of Jet Engines, Radar, Computers, Microwaves, Artificial Intelligence, and the long list of vital medical advancements that we now take for granted today.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Military Conflicts are highly perilous situations to take part in, as such it’s important that countries accurately plan all operations beforehand with the intention of identifying weakness within the enemy’s military strategies while recognizing their own flaws as a means of overcoming all adversity. Through this demand for tactical awareness, we experienced the birth of Operations Research, and our subject today Military Wargaming.

US Naval Postgraduate School students participate in analytic wargames Courtesy: Javier Chagoya – via Wikimedia Commons –

History of Wargaming

Wargaming dates back to ancient strategy games like chess and chaturanga but the modern variation that is now widely used in the design process of modern wargames is that of the 19th Century game titled ‘Kriegsspiel’ developed by the Prussian Army. Kriegsspiel was a highly detailed experience that included the likes of infantry, cavalry, and artillery which more closely resembled the variations of a military force compared to the simplistic design of chess and other games. Over time, Kriegsspiel continued to evolve with the advancements in technology surrounding cartography and the creation of models which allowed for a more detailed and engaging experience.

Prussian officers playing Kriegsspiel
Courtesy: Joseph Nash – via Wikimedia Commons –

Through the success of Kriegsspiel, companies around the world began propping up to develop their own versions of wargames which were in demand by military leaders, scholars, and enthusiasts with the likes of H. G. Wells’ 1913 Little Wars, Avalon Hill’s 1958 Gettysburg, and 1954 Tactics. Wargaming has slowly become a staple of military leadership education and operations research before undertaking any military action in accordance with military doctrine, reconnaissance, and other gathered intelligence.

Modern Wargaming

Modern Wargaming standards have increased rapidly over the last 100 years, and we are now reaching a turning point in Physical versus Digital Wargaming experiences and capabilities. Currently, Western countries employ two different games to provide a varying experience of play. These are the Operational Wargame Series, which simulates warfare within the next 30 years, and GMT Games’ Next War which provides set scenarios surrounding current-day tensions like Taiwan, Korea, Poland, and Pakistan. These tabletop experiences are meant with military application in mind and as such the quality and detail surrounding the rules, units, and mechanics are grounded in reality to provide an unbiased evaluation of leadership and strategic expertise.

USA vs Russia: Breaking the S-400 (with F-35s) Courtesy: HypOps – via YouTube –

Command: Modern Operations published by Slitherine Ltd, is the “next generation in cross-domain modern wargaming.” which allows the user to simulate combat operations from World War 2, the present, and into the future. This Digital Wargaming experience allows you to utilise satellite data and a massive military database of every weapon system, aircraft, naval vessel, and much more to simulate the raw experience of being a military leader watching over your army on a global scale, combined with Raia Software Inc’s TacView you are able to watch your leadership actions take place in both a 2D and 3D Landscape.

Where Command: Modern Operations succeeds it also has its pitfalls surrounding the limitations of the engine and design philosophy. CMO does not incorporate an AI that is able to react fully autonomously to scenarios as it is guided by predetermined scripting and settings which guide its decision-making. This technological factor extremely limits the ability of CMO to act as the main vital teaching process for military application as a means of identifying the strengths and weaknesses of both sides’ military doctrine, and predictions of military operation outcomes.

Artificial Intelligence Implications

Through machine learning, Artificial Intelligence will boost the competitive edge within the Digitial wargame landscape as it continues to progress towards autonomy and is capable of Real-Time Optimization. Artificial Intelligence combined with Digital Wargaming will drastically reduce the overall workload and time it requires to partake in wargames while being even more efficient at deciding the victor through the experience with regard to features like speeding up time and automation. In the future, say 50 years or sooner we could see a full global simulation of wargames being played out by AI, as a means of predicting all possible outcomes of a military operation, which could drastically shape how modern warfighting is conducted.

Ender’s Game “Final Test” Courtesy: Lionsgate – via

With the benefits of Artificial Intelligence being so evidently clear to Operations Research, it will also help improve tones of other aspects of our lives across all industries and tasks, however, it is important to raise concerns surrounding the use of Artificial Intelligence in situations that human lives may they be military or civilian are at risk. Ethics surrounding Artificial Intelligence in Military applications is important to make sure that military actions are in line with the Laws of War, and do not hinder the safety and security of non-combatants. Regulations from international bodies like the United Nations, and Red Cross are important to maintain the integrity of Artificial Intelligence for the good of mankind no matter its application.

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