Wargaming Needs New Recruits to Save Lives

The Pentagon’s professional military wargamers are in need of an infusion of younger and more diverse talent
How We Get To Next, Nov. 25, 2016

Yuna Wong wasn’t a wargamer when she first walked into the Connections Wargaming Conference five years ago, but that didn’t stop the former Marine Corps operations analyst from feeling right at home. “I just stood there watching these middle-aged white men with baseball caps hunched over miniatures, and I had this overwhelming sense that I had found my people,” she says.

Now a policy researcher at the Rand Corporation, a nonprofit think tank that has advised government and the private sector for generations, Wong found a new path that day. “If these are my people, what is it that they do and how do I become one,” she wondered.

What she discovered was much more than just a game. Since the early 19th century, the loose collection of military thought experiments known as wargames has been informing commanders on the eve of battle and at the height of cold wars. Wargames have guided significant tactical and strategic decisions in conflicts including World War II, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and undoubtedly others we don’t even know about. Now, as part of a new emphasis at the Department of Defense on using innovation to sustain the United States’ military position in the world, wargaming is set to play a bigger role than it has in decades.

But as the province of a bunch of “middle-aged white men,” who for the most part came to wargames first as a hobby, the discipline is in sore need of younger and more diverse practitioners to fill out a roster that is increasingly “hair-pigment challenged,” as one person put it. So if wargames are to remain as useful as they’ve become, the question Wong wants to answer is, how do we train a new generation of these grognards?

(Read the full text at How We Get To Next)