Tactical Decision GamesPosted on July 18,2019
Article Date Dec 01, 2009
by the Advanced Warfighting Seminar, Expeditionary Warfare School
On the modern battlefields of the global war on terrorism, the U.S. military is facing enemies that have no state; government; uniform; tactics, techniques, and procedures; standing operating procedures; or goals that resemble those of fighting forces in decades past. Our past enemies at least had leaders whose goal was governing once they defeated their enemies on the battlefield or in the political arena. In short, they were either a second-generation (Soviet military of the Cold War) or third-generation (North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong) milirary. The new enemy is defined as being stateless and lacking a clear strategic goal that directly links force with achieving political supremacy. Many lessons that we derived from our past enemies do not apply to this new enemy. We seek to challenge leaders to evaluate tactical situations in a fourth-generation warfare (4GW) context, looking beyond the immediate need of applying fires to the enemy. The authors are challenging leaders to consider nonkinetic “fires,” civil-military relationships, and your unit’s standing and respect among the local population.
This method of training utilizes tactical decision games (TDGs) in 4GW. The setting is Afghanistan. Solutions will not always require kinetic fires against an enemy. Frequendy the tactical decision deals with cultural or language issues with which you may not be familiar. In this case you are encouraged to refer to publications (the Aighanistan Country Book or translation card) available within your unit to help find answers to these questions. In some cases you may need to communicate with a local national: how would you do this, and did you bring the gear? In other cases, knowledge of the local tribes and tribal influences may be useful: how do you gain this knowledge? While a leader is determining a course of action, he may want to make a note to add certain cultural gear to his standard patrol or operational gear list.
These TDGs are often linked to one another to accustom the leader to the concept that his actions will have effects beyond his immediate unit and area. This also brings to the forefront the idea of the “three block war” where one squad is fighting and another is rescuing civilians, while a third is determining if a group of military-aged males is friend or foe. The points of view of the squad leaders and the platoon commander in a particular situation, though different, may be equally valid, and they are explored here through linked TDGs.
Finally, the leader will get the opportunity to put himself in the enemy’s shoes in several of these TDGs. A leader can “turn the map around” and look at the same tactical situation from the enemy’s point of view. This should provide the leader with valuable insight into how differently the enemy might view the situation, conceptualize his actions and outcomes, deploy his forces, control them in battle, and ultimately identify what the enemy considers victory during and after an engagement.
Through the methods utilized in these TDGs, military leaders will be challenged to think like their enemies, better understand rapidly changing situations, and determine courses of action that take into account not just the kinetic fires but also nonkinetic fires and civil-military relationships. Often in counterinsurgency, the immediate tactical situation is not difficult to solve. The problem is that solving it by force often has strongly negative consequences. The challenge to our military leaders is to determine what courses of action will undermine the insurgents’ credibility and desire to fight while increasing our standing and respect in the eyes of the local populace.
Authors Note: To view manuals on 4GW produced by ohe Advanced Vfàrfìghting Seminar, go to htm://www.d-n-i.net/dni/strategyand-force-emplayment/fourm-genera rion-war fare-manuals, or if you are in riie U.S. military and have a common access card, go to https://www. intranet, tecom. usmcmil/sites/E WS/AdWF.