MEXICO CITY – Three faculty members from the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) recently returned from Mexico City where they taught a three-day war gaming professional development workshop at the Mexican Naval War College.
The workshop, proposed by U.S. Northern Command, was to share NWC’s expertise in war gaming methods with the Mexican Navy and to show the use and value of gaming to maritime challenges.
“I think many military commanders recognize NWC War Gaming Department’s century-old legacy of conducting high-quality applied gaming, research, analysis, and education,” said Prof. Shawn Burns. “We hope this workshop will help the Mexican Navy as well as strengthen our international maritime relationship.”
According to Burns, the workshop was attended by more than three dozen senior Mexican military officials including more than 20 captains from the Mexican Navy alone. Students gathered at the Center for Superior Naval Studies (CESNAV), Mexico’s equivalent of NWC. There, the war gaming team paced students through a step- by-step process that included lectures, small-group assignments, and incremental scenario-based aspects of war game development.
“Mexican Navy Captain Francisco Escamilla helped host, coordinate and facilitate the workshop. Admiral C.F. Quinto, the director of CESNAV, welcomed us and kept the students fully charged throughout the workshop,” said Burns.
Commanders Dustin Martin and Jeff Uhde rounded out the NWC wargaming teaching trio.
“One of the missions of the Naval War College is to strengthen global maritime partnerships and this was the second time I travelled to CESNAV to talk about wargaming,” said Martin. “Last year we introduced gaming to more junior officer students. This year we were asked to come back and teach war gaming skills to senior staff officers. There is certainly a greater awareness of what gaming is used for and its value to senior leaders.”
Martin explained students were challenged with an oil spill scenario and then a narco- terrorism scenario. They were then walked through the process NWC uses when a sponsor, such as a combatant commander, is trying to identify gaps or ways to respond.
“We wanted to show them how to design a game that was either educational or analytical,” said Martin. “The oil spill scenario was used to illustrate the analytical value of gaming. What are the shortfalls or what limits our ability to respond? The narcoterrorism scenario emphasized more educational goals of gaming. What courses of action are possible? If I act, what is the opposition’s possible reaction and then what is my follow up action?”
When asked about what technology is required to introduce wargaming in CESNAV, Martin said the students were a bit surprised to hear his answer.
“We showed them you don’t need fancy technology to do wargaming. Wargaming is about human thinking and decision making. It’s not about computers. Our scenarios used a simple white board and markers,” said Martin.
For the NWC trio, it was obvious to them their lessons struck to the heart of the military leaders.
“During the last day of the practice exercise we gave them, there were spirited debates among participants. You could definitely see and hear that they were ‘getting into’ what we were having them do,” said Burns.
War gaming has been an integral part of NWC since its establishment in 1885 and continues to provide the Navy and Dept. of Defense as a means to link broad principles to specific strategies and scenarios. More information on NWC and its war gaming department can be found at: www.usnwc.edu.
posted by Alyssa Menard