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U.S. Naval Postgraduate School


Seminar war games can be conducted for a variety of purposes:

Typically each seminar war game will have a combination of objectives: for example, it may be to expose an external audience to certain issues while the participants are also gaining a deeper understanding of those same issues.

The commitment to develop analysis for some seminar war games will be dependent upon the associated purposes. If those purposes can be achieved merely by leaving memories with the participants (say in training them), then relatively little analysis may be required. But if results are to be used outside the circle of participants, e.g., to provide evidence that a course of action or a future concept is good or bad, then substantial data collection and analysis should be included.

For analytic wargaming, the analysis planning should include a Data Collection and Management Plan. So, a seminar war game that is intended for analytic purposes should have its DCMP.

For some war games, it may seem sufficient after the conclusion of a seminar war game that all the participants can depart with a shared memory of what transpired. Note: even when seminar war games are used purely in a training role, there should still be mechanisms to record activity and collect feedback. A successful After Action Review, usually a critical part of any training program, demands that.

Nonetheless, to achieve their objectives, some seminar war games may require little or no analysis. For example, seminar war games may be intended solely for team building; once the nascent team has developed mutual trust and understanding, nothing further may be required. Another objective that may be adopted for seminar war gaming is education; once an audience has absorbed the significance of the issues covered in the game, an analysis report may have no incremental value. However, for seminar war games that are intended to illuminate some significant decision or to assist with problem solving, a record of the proceedings, associated analysis, and a report will be the legacy to substantiate its value.

In preparing for the analysis that follows a war game, scenarios must be carefully crafted to permit data collection on relevant points. If some issue needs to be explored and yet there are no events in the scenario on that issue, there will be no suitable data to collect, and the analysis will fail. A well-crafted Data Collection and Management Plan will provide links between elements of the scenario and the material that needs to be collected to address a sponsor's objective for the game. So designing the secenario must be done in conjunction with the plan for analysis (see the page on scenarios).