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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Peter Perla Final Keynote Speach

I feel privileged to be sat watching one of the key figures in modern professional wargaming deliver the Keynote speech at the US professional wargaming conference. Peter Perla's (1990) book was key in helping move forward wargaming as a professional tool.

These are just a few quotes from the talk.
"This high-level official interest in wargaming may be new, but serious, professional wargaming has been practiced for nearly 200 years. Sometimes it has pointed the way toward success. Too often it has been oversold by charlatans, abused by the cynical, and ignored by those who most need to learn from the insights it can provide. Today we face a critical historic inflection point. We can't afford to screw up this opportunity. It's time to get wargaming right. It's too important not to."


"The essence of games is found in their basic nature. They are about people making decisions in the context of competition or conflict, usually with other people. All the while plagued by uncertainty and complexity."

"As I have been thinking about the litany of uncertainly recently, it led me back to an even older point, one that I have heard attributed to Abraham Lincoln in the dark days of the Civil War. “It aint what you don’t know that will get you; it’s what you know that aint so.” We have seen a lot of that since spring 2003. We knew that the Iraqi people would welcome us as liberators. We knew that we could get by with a small military force while we rebuilt Iraq and turned it over to a democratically elected government. We knew . . . well, you get the picture."

Success in any art may be regarded as the product of three factors:

a—the right thing,

b—rightly applied,

c—in time.

If either of these factors is zero, the result will be zero. The right thing rightly applied too late, the right thing misapplied, and the wrong thing, whether applied or not—neither of these combinations promises success.

When from a study of the experience of past wars, and of that of artificial wars checked up by suitable trials in the fleet, we shall have discovered what is the RIGHT THING’; when, by the practice of artificial war, we have so familiarized ourselves with the various theaters of war, the situations and their appropriate solutions that we can see the RIGHT THING,’ ‘RIGHTLY APPLIED’; and finally when, by persistent practice of artificial war, we shall have so trained our appropriate mental muscles (the mental processes), that the proper line of reasoning has become the line of least resistance, so that we shall think right even if we have no time to think at all—instinctively, actually quicker than though—thus enabling us to do the ‘RIGHT THING,’ ‘RIGHTLY APPLIED, ‘IN TIME,’ then, and only then, shall we fully realize the true meaning of the saying that ‘the best school of war is war!’”



Games taught decision-making, not decisions.

Gave "an adaptable process to follow and confidence in their decision-making abilities."

Facilitated transformation of tactics, strategy and technology.

Succeeded through "cyclic osmosis" of rotation from students to planners, operators, faculty.

"Research laboratory for every detail of naval warfare."
Games are accurate because:
     they incorporate external and human factors
     they include humans as decision makers
games are accurate  because game designers are predictable.


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