Tactical Decision Games

Journal of Non-lethal Combatives, November 1999

 The editors hope to include Tactical Decision Games in the Journal of Non-lethal Combat. So, what is a Tactical Decision Game?

 It isn't a wargame in the sense of moving counters about a map. Instead it is a tactical exercise without troops, a scenario in which you are posed a problem and given a few minutes to solve it.

 For published examples of Tactical Decision Games, see the ones posted each month in Marine Corps Gazette. While those games are usually written to describe company-level military operations during low-to-medium intensity conflict, there is nothing saying that similar scenarios cannot be written for fire-team or patrol car level operations, or indeed for private citizens out with their families. For an online example of this kind of scenario, see "The Unit Ministry Team in Military Operations Other Than War: A New Perception," by Chaplain (MAJ) William Merrifield at http://usachcs-www.army.mil/ac22.htm.

 Journal readers are therefore requested to send plausible team or individual scenarios to this site. Scenarios should be 500 words or less in length and should be open-ended enough to provoke discussion rather than canned answers.

 People writing scenarios need to provide a map showing where everything is physically located at the start of the game, plus the following information:

  Situation. What is the geographical location of the event? What is the weather, and what is visibility like? What rules of engagement or criminal codes are in place? Who is with the person responding to the proposed scenario (subsequently called "you")? Additionally, what are the threat forces doing or suspected of doing? (Note that your knowledge of opposing forces is limited to what you can reasonably, see, hear, or have been told before beginning the scenario.)

  Mission. What is it that got you into this scrape in the first place, what is it that you are supposed to accomplish, and how is your success or failure in that accomplishment to be externally evaluated?

  Administration and logistics. What weapons, equipment, and special training do you and your people have?  What external assistance is available, and what is its likely response time?

  Command and communication. How long (and more importantly, how well,) have the people in your group worked together? What communications equipment is available? How well does it work?

 The author also must provide his or her solution to serve as the school solution. To encourage reader input, the school solution will not be posted for at least 90 days after the scenario is first put online.

 In solutions, remember that this is not television. Therefore we do not want to rely on gods from the machines or complex last-second heroics. Instead we want to follow the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid, and to bring everyone home alive.

 When writing a solution, explain in 500 words or less how you intend to make your plan work. Explain how you are going to communicate this intent to other members of your party in a reasonable length of time and overcome any logical opposition they might have. What is reasonable depends on the scenario, but in no case should reaching a decision and then explaining it to your people take more than a couple of minutes.

 Then, in another 500 words or less, explain your reasoning and the risk assessment profiles that you used to reach this solution. In this discussion, describe how you plan on responding to logical opposition responses and dealing with likely psychological, medical, and legal problems associated with your solution.

JNC Nov 1999.