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Saturday, 4 May 2019

New book: Pentagon Rural counter insurgency game (1966)


This is an example of an early professional counter insurgency game written for the Pentagon to explore a rural based insurgency through a wargame.
America was engaged in a strategic counter insurgency in Vietnam. On one side was the government of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) supported by America and other Western Allies. On the other side was the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) supported by Russia, China and other communist countries. The stakes could not have been higher. In America, every effort was being made to wage war more effectively in the conflict. One of the tools applied was wargaming, such as this game.

The game is a multi-player megagame with players representing the government, the insurgents and the sample villages at the centre of the battle for control. The game allowed the players to explore the asymmetrical conflict from a different perspective, using the prism of wargaming.

Agile/COIN was played in a number of key establishments in America and clearly had some training value. One success was pulling special forces soldiers away from their normal military skills focussed training and asking them how would they actually influence the hearts and minds of the people in the villages of rural South Vietnam. 
This book includes after action reviews of twelve games with the lessons learnt. What is also interesting is the examples of the American players committing atrocities against the civilian population as an in-game strategy.

The game was developed until it was turned into a computer-based game as part of the appliance of science to war movement. Ironically, whilst this may have increased the operational analysis value, it also reduced the training value of Agile. 
This book is published by the History of Wargaming Project as part of its ongoing efforts to document professional wargaming.