Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The US-China War Games at RAND Corporation

Here is a description from The Economist on war games that have recently taken place at the think tank RAND Corporation:

When conducting games between China and America, David Ochmanek of RAND Corporation, a think-tank, worries most about an invasion of Taiwan, the security of which is implicitly guaranteed by America. In one scenario the red team unleashes a “joint firepower strike” on Taiwan’s defence forces and on American forces, bases and command-and-control nodes in the Pacific, including on Okinawa and Guam. Many of the blue team’s planes are destroyed on the ground, and its runways disabled. China severs communication links as part of an effort to gain information superiority, part of a full-spectrum strategy called “system-destruction warfare”. Then comes the amphibious assault on the island. American submarines knock out some portion of the invasion force with torpedoes, but surface-level carriers and frigates are hammered by Chinese anti-ship missiles if they venture near the fight.  "We always assume that the United States intervenes forcefully and early," Mr Ochmanek says.  But now, in contrast to years past, "I would not have confidence that we would succeed."

Here is more on the wargames, held with the Pentagon, from a piece entitled "The Scary War Game Over Taiwan That the US Losses Again and Again."  The US was losing RAND's wargames to China and Russia back in 2019.

Mr. Ochmanek works in the Washington, DC office of RAND, and from 2009 to 2014 he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Development.

RAND has a page dedicated to wargaming, and says that it has "developed and can execute various types of wargames, including scenario exercises, tabletop map exercises, 'Day After...' games, and computer-supported exercises." says that RAND's wargaming expertise led to the creation of the internet, noting it has created a board game that's like "Risk on steroids."  The game, called Hedgemony: A Game of Strategic Choice, can be purchased here for $250.

Last year, RAND analysts developed and hosted a wargame to help young women learn firsthand about national security.

The University of Maryland's International Communication & Negotiation Simulations (ICONS) Project is one entity that works with think tanks to support a number of Track II dialogue projects.

Last month the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) held a virtual panel discussion on how the Pentagon uses wargames to develop ideas and inform decisions.

On July 22, CNAS held a virtual wargame that explored a potential clash between the US and China in the East China Sea in 2030.  Here is more on that wargame from The National Interest.

In 2019, think tankers took part in a wargaming exercise at Harvard's Belfer Center in which they simulated threats posed by a Chinese digital currency. 

CNAS, with the financial support of the European Union, is holding wargames in July 2021 in a virtual workshop entitled: "Wargaming with the Next Generation: A Russia Crisis Simulation."

Smaller think tanks are also involved in wargaming.  For example, as a part of the Wargaming Studies and Simulations Program at the Casimir Pulaski Foundation, the think tank, in cooperation with the US-based think tank Potomac Foundation, organized a war game based upon Potomac's proprietary HEGEMON computer-based simulation platform.