How do war games like Millennium Challenge 2002 work?


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They obviously can’t actually have men and materiel actually carry out all the actions ordered. Is it like the world’s most elaborate DnD game?

General Riper: “I put my anti-ship missiles on skiffs. Since they have a size class less than 3, they get +10 to radar evasion.”

4 star admiral / Dungeon Master: *Rolls die.* “They successfully evade radar. However the enemy has destroyed your radio towers and fiber optics, and they can no longer receive orders.”

GR: “I send my motorcycle messengers to transmit orders. They have bikes with +5 speed.”

4SA/DM: *Rolls die.* “They are not detected. Communications are re-established and you can now again issue orders to these units.”

In: Other

It’s a mix of a few things.

There is a live-action component. There are defined objectives, and an operational plan, then you have actual personnel, vehicles, and equipment out in the field and they go through the planned action. No, there’s no combat. Sometimes there’s a system called MILES which is essentially high-tech laser tag, but usually it’s more about going through the maneuvers to practice skills, like setting up mobile facilities and equipment, command and control in the field, or logistical operations, so you can see where the challenges or breakdowns are and then see if the system can be improved to prevent those obstacles.

Then, there’s also an aspect that does not correspond to actual personnel and equipment. It can be like DnD in that you come up with a plan and plan a series of actions, but rather than rolling dice or anything like that which can’t tell you what would actually happen it you tried that, instead its analyzed by teams of experts using data and tables from related fields to project results. Also, frequently it isn’t about combat; sometimes its about finances, civil infrastructure, both physical and governmental, or supply utilization.

The simulation that figures out “what happens” in response to each player move was run in hundreds of workstation computers. Each entity: plane, ship, or missile was individually simulated in the equivalent of a flight simulator program. While there was a non-stochastic element to the outcome, it wasn’t the dice rolls of D&D.

Source: I was there.