Wargaming at the Naval Postgraduate School


Posted: December 1, 2016 | By: Jeff Appleget, Fred Cameron, Robert E. Burks, Jeff Kline


The United States Department of Defense (DoD) and the military services have employed wargaming for well over a century to prepare for war and other operations. The Naval War College first employed naval wargames in the late 19th century at the tactical and strategic levels. During the period between world wars, Plan Orange wargaming at the Naval War College was a key contributor to the strategic plan that led to the defeat of the Japanese Empire in 1945. Since that conflict, wargaming techniques have become widespread within U.S. organizations and throughout the world.

After a recent period of quiescence, there is a resurgence of interest in wargaming by DoD. The Naval Postgraduate School has a long history of teaching wargaming, starting with a partnership to share course materials and naval simulations with the Naval War College in the mid-1980s. NPS education and research wargaming activities on campus have resulted in the execution of over 50 wargames in the past five years. These wargames are conducted as part of resident wargaming courses and other on-campus workshops and events in direct support of DON, DoD, major command sponsors and allies and other international partners, as well as separate wargames to support technical research. Today, wargaming activities of all types can be found in many of the NPS curricula and outreach activities around the globe.

In 2014, a need to bring higher visibility and synergy to the myriad of wargaming activities at NPS resulted in the formation of the Wargaming Activity Hub. The Hub’s mission is to leverage wargaming to conduct high quality education, analysis, and research in support of the Naval Postgraduate School’s mission, to prepare future leaders, and help shape and form key decisions on the future of the Department of Defense (DoD). The Wargaming Activity Hub’s purpose is to support and contribute to the Naval Postgraduate School’s educational and research mission and provide a wargaming and simulation environment to assist DoD leaders in their mission to develop new strategies and concepts across all levels of warfare to counter emerging adversary capabilities and complement ongoing field experimentation activities for the rapid testing and fielding of new technologies.

While it would be impossible to detail all NPS wargaming activities, there are several that provide support to DoD and defense partner organizations by leveraging educational opportunities for NPS students and faculty and provide a flavor of the range of wargaming support at NPS.

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