!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: War Gaming at the Naval War College

Friday, October 26, 2007

War Gaming at the Naval War College

William Frederick "Bull" Halsey was the last Fleet (five-star) Admiral in the US Navy.

William Frederick Halsey
This November 30, 1942 Time cover image was painted just before Halsey's promotion from Vice Admiral to full Admiral. In 1945 Halsey was awarded a rare fifth star, making him Fleet Admiral.
(Source Time. The associated article is here.)

As reported by Time, Halsey made a point of coordinating with the Army and Marine Corps during World War II operations in the Pacific:
Admiral Halsey cabled Secretary Knox: In the Southern Pacific neither we of the Navy nor those of the Army and Marine Corps recognize any division between the services. All are united in service to the United States.

With Douglas MacArthur advancing and Bill Halsey victorious, the schisms of the South Pacific seemed to be disappearing. All along there had been excellent cooperation between fighting men whenever they joined on the actual fronts. Now, with equally aggressive commanders leading both Army and Navy in the area, the divisions at the top were narrowing. Admiral Halsey and General MacArthur established and maintained hour-to-hour contact. Devices were being found to erase the arbitrary line which has divided their command.
The Time article goes on to note:
The command situation was improving. But cooperation, depending upon personal relations which might be changed overnight, could never equal actual unity of command. That was still wanting.
I imagine it was this seminal effort to achieve effective joint force warfare that lies behind naming a high-profile simulation project at the Naval War College after Adm. Halsey.

The Halsey Alfa project (there are also Halsey Bravo and Halsey Charlie projects) began in 2004. As explained by Capt. James R. Fitzsimonds (USN ret.), one of the project leaders, Halsey Alfa has three goals (reg req):
to develop a better understanding of modern combat operations, to derive insights and recommendations of near-term operational relevance to Fleet operators, and to educate officers in the complexities of joint force employment at the theater level of warfare.
Halsey Alfa uses war gaming as its main research tool for seeking optimum solutions to various operational problems (scenarios). Participants play out competing courses of action, and analyze the results to generate "significant insights into relevant tactical, operational, and strategic issues for a specific theater-level contingency."

Capt. Fitzsimonds reports that
The fine-grained analysis of the Halsey Alfa approach has uncovered a number of counter-intuitive findings with respect to force-on-force interactions that have called into question many traditional assumptions, and driven a number of innovative operational approaches. The Halsey Alfa effort is also facilitating an understanding of potential enemy approaches to warfare, and how a given Red [enemy] comes to define battlefield victory and recognize his own battlefield defeat. It is true Red teaming in the most classic sense.[1]

Key outputs of the Halsey games include specific actions by Blue that unhinge various Red plans, and thus serve as effective dissuasion or deterrence measures.
Fitzsimonds concludes by suggesting that the most valuable aspect of Halsey Alfa is "educating officers as true joint warfighters, lifting them above their narrow tactical specialties and preparing them to deal with the complexities of high intensity combat in the modern joint theater of operations."

1 "Red Team: a group of subject-matter experts (SME) ... that provides an independent peer review of products and processes, acts as a devil’s advocate, and knowledgeably role-plays the enemy and outside agencies, using an iterative, interactive process during operations planning." Col. Timothy G. Malone and Maj. Reagan E. Schaupp, "The 'Red Team': Forging a Well-Conceived Contingency Plan," Aerospace Power Journal Vol. XVI, No. 2 (Summer 2002), p. 22.


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