Sunday, 18 September 2016

New book Paddy Griffith’s Counter Insurgency Wargames (1980)

Paddy Griffith’s Counter Insurgency Wargames (1980) 

with a foreword by Brian Train

Paddy Griffith (1947- 2010) was a leading British military theorist and historian, who used wargaming as part of his tool set to critically analyse operational and tactical military history. This book includes two previously unpublished COunter-INsurgency (COIN) wargames from 1976 to 1980 and an example of a British Army live-roleplaying COIN from 1980.

Paddy Griffith examined COIN situations using wargaming as part of his professional work, which included being a lecturer in war studies at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. This book includes previously unpublished material from his archive about three such exercises.
The first COIN game, Longreagh Village, is about a security force base facing a particularly challenging week of supporting the local police in a border village. Briefings are provided for the security forces and the opposition group. This is supported by a sketch map, intelligence files and a breakdown of activities for each day of the week. 

The second COIN game, summer in Dogem-on-Sea, is set in ORANGELAND. The local police are facing a two pronged threat against the local population. The security forces part of the game was run as a committee game, whereas the opposition side was run as a role-playing game. Detailed briefings are provided, the events diary of the local police commander, tactical sketch maps of key locations as well as other background material. 

The third COIN game is an outline of a British Army live-roleplaying exercise, with a cast of 250 people. Soldiers and civilians were drafted in to create a backdrop for an intensive 48 hour exercise to allow the officer cadets of Sandhurst to gain practical experience of COIN. As a lecturer in war studies, Paddy Griffith contributed to these exercises, in particular, the development of the exercise narrative. 

This book is almost unique in providing detailed historical examples of COIN exercises and as such is a window into the professional perspective of the British Army into COIN at that time.
The foreword is by Brian Train, a well-known current game designer, who specialises in producing games about irregular warfare.


  1. I participated in the third of these exercises as a TA Int Corps NCO.

  2. John, is his Memphis Mangler game written up anywhere? I played one of the NVA intelligence officers.

  3. I have a file with that title, but have not yet delved. Paddy kept everything. If you are inspired, I would be interested in any memories you have of that game. Memphis Mangler was inspired by Paddy's efforts to improve on the early mega games of Donald Featherstone (see Featherstone's Wargaming commando operations, lost tales vol 2 for the story of that first mega game).

  4. I was invited to play as I was part of a Wargames Design adult education class that Paddy ran in 80/81 in Woking (Arthur Harman also attended, and took part in Memphis Mangler). An older chap was running the NVA and I assisted him as the intel officer with a walky-talky and a pair of binoculars, so I was able to listen in to the US radio comms and peer out from black curtains on the stage at one end of the hall. The bulk of the hall was taken up with chalked out paths, streams and jungle, with miniatures used for all the US forces. Paper village buildings and a pagoda made up the main village. At the end we were happy that the US helicopter assault on the village had turned into a fiasco, and in celebration we played taped VC music over the airwaves - until an umpire ruled we'd been DF'd and shot up by a Cobra! There were many side-stories going on and I think a dodgy deal between a PX officer and a village leader was caught on camera, although due to our somewhat secluded location we missed a lot of this.

    1. very interesting. I have found some stuff in digital form, but most is in hard copy in a large box file.