Some of the tools that may be used in seminar war games might also be termed "props", as in props for a stage play or film. This can be deployed during the play of a game. There are four broad categories: command and control systems, planning tools, tools for assessment and adjudication within the game, and tools to support data collection and analysis. Some of the tools described below can support in more than one of these categories.
The Command Team in War Gaming
Providing trained individuals to play roles of Chief of Staff, traditional staff positions (e.g., branch heads for the "1 Shop" through to the "5 Shop"), advisors like POLAD (Political Advisor), LEGAD (JAG or Legal Advisor). In a sense, members of the command team constitute a "flesh and blood" component of the command and control system.
Command and Control Systems in War Gaming
OMNI FUSION 09 provided workstations for "Command Post of the Future" to staff at the division command post and at subordinate brigade command posts. Many other large seminar war games do the same with digital C2 systems provided to the players. Additionally, collaboration packages like Adobe Connect served as surrogates for voice and video conferencing between staff positions. In a seminar war game, players may be provided with the same C2 systems they would use on operations, or surrogates with similar and familiar capabilities; there may be a saving in training the players when this can be done.
Note: that there can be cases where provide digital C2 systems can detract from the seminar war game, for example if the players get lost in the intricacies of performing C2 tasks on the equipment rather than participating in the discussion.
Staff Planning Aids
Military planning staffs have many tools that they can employ for various estimated from the size and composition of combat forces needed for specified missions, to consumption rates for food, water, fuel, and munitions, to casualties that might be expected in certain conflict situations. These may come in various forms: tailored computer programs, formulas in a spreadsheet, tables, or manuals. Some of the planning aids may be embedded in C2 systems; so, if the players are using their familiar C2 systems for the seminar war game, they may have ready access to many planning aids as a result.
Civilian Operations Management Systems
The civilian world has counterparts to the systems above for real-time management. These can range from a dispatch or control center for emergency crews, to air traffic control centers for civilian aviation, to trading floors for stock markets and commodity markets.
Surrogates for such civilian management systems can be incorporated into seminar war games that is focused on a specific non-military domain.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Many games depend on aspects of time and distance. These may be related to moving combat forces from one location to another, to providing logistics support by convoy over some distance, to deploying various sensors where their ranges and fields of view are efficiently organized, and so on. When a combat simulation is part of a seminar war game, it may be used to resolve many aspects of time and distance, although this is generally limited to movement or engagements of weapon systems -- a particular strength of combat simulations.
However, many seminar war games will not have an associated combat simulation that can be used for this, and often it is not required. There certainly are many aspects of time and distance where a combat simulation is either not appropriate or not efficient for dealing with time and distance. Fortunately there are many packages that can assist. Many may have been developed in the civilian realm and may have no components to determine the outcomes from combat. Nevertheless they can be valuable to assessing other aspects of time and distance.
The basic version of Google Earth is free and provides the means to
view satellite imagery, to superimpose various geographic features
including buildings and roads, and to calculate point-to-point
and distances along a multi-point path. Google Earth Pro is an upgrade
for business applications with many more features, but has an annual
- ESRI's ArcGIS.
ArcGIS is a commercial package that is in wide use in the geomatics
basic version provides considerable capabilities to deal with time and
distance aspects and, due to its popularity, technical support is often
easily available within the military community.
MapView is a
competitor to ArcGIS.
The US Department of Defense, through the Air National Guard, funded
Georgia Tech to develop FalconView in the 1990s as a computer-based
mapping tool. It has much of the functionality of commercial geographic
information systems and is free for use on government projects. Georgia
Tech has since been funded to develop an
open source software version of FalconView.
- While combat simulations can be used in their own right
apart from seminar war games) to
support analytical studies, they can also
be used within a seminar war game to resolve issues of combat
interactions. Combat simulations that have been used in this way
are two approaches to employing combat simulations in conjunction with
seminar war games. One approach is to have players play out combat
the combat simulation then participate in seminar-oriented discussion
of the results; this can be iterated between phases of combat play and
seminar discussions. An alternative is to have some players use the
combat simulation while other players monitor this and conduct
discourse in a seminar setting of what is unfolding between the players
who are using the combat simulation. A variant of this is the
multi-level gaming conducted within the Global
the Naval War College,
with players at the strategic and operational levels conducting
seminars while they monitor (and react to) results of combat
simulations played at the tactical level.
Collaboration Support -- e.g., Adobe Connect
Apart from providing players with a collaborative environment,
package like Adobe
Connect can support analysts with their own collaboration
isolated from the players. These
packages typically provide one-to-one and group-participation voice and
video collaboration, shared views of computer desktops, and multiple
simultaneous authoring of shared documents.
Data Capture for Analysts
Many packages can be adapted to data collection and analysis
a seminar war game study. These include:
- Oracle, SQL, MicroSoft Access, or other database products
- MicroSoft Infopath
- MicroSoft Sharepoint and other collaboration packages that
provide a Wiki environment
- Spreadsheet packages like MicroSoft Excel and Open Office
- S-Plus and R, or other statistical analysis packages