War games may be conducted between friends in the same military unit, but their roles are very serious.
A war game is a simulation of a conflict or emergency situation which is played out, using real soldiers, computer technology or virtual simulators to recreate that situation in as realistic a way as possible. A military war game, used by militaries all around the world, differs from a civilian game in that no members of the public take part, all participants are part of the military and the games simulate the tactics, battles and other situations that occur in modern warfare.
Tactics and Preparation
Military forces involved in war games are able to prepare themselves for real-life warfare and test tactics which may one day be used on the battlefield. Usually, a war game features two opposing forces, which compete against one another by attempting to complete military objectives; of course, these forces are in reality part of the same military. The idea is that each side reacts to the other, preparing participants for similar situations on the battlefield and enabling each side to practice tactics.
Military war games often focus on establishing a simulation of a certain situation and then playing out the scenario in order to demonstrate the options available. For example, a real-life situation may already be in place, so the commanders involved in such an operation would create a realistic simulation of that scenario on friendly territory to see which military options were feasible and which were not. As the war game unfolds, those in command can see how the scenario would unfold should certain decisions or options be taken. Following the war game, those in control discuss what has been learned and observed during the game.
Experience of Command
Not all military personnel are suitable for leadership positions, so taking command of a team in a non-threatening but realistic scenario is one way the military has of testing a soldier’s fitness for a commanding role. Commanders may also take part in military war games to prepare them for new or changing roles.
Determining Weak Spots
A military war game might be conducted in an attempt to reveal weak points in a military’s strategy or readiness to deal with particular sets of circumstances. One such military exercise, called “Eligible Receiver 97,” was held in the United States in 1997, as the military simulated an electronic attack on military computers, finding that the U.S. was very vulnerable from such a real attack at that time.
Sending A Message
Since military war games are often kept low-key, a military that chooses to publicize that it has been conducting war games will send a message to its neighbours and rivals. Such a message could be a warning to other countries of the implications of military action against them, or a sign that a government is set to attempt military action, such as an invasion, in the near future.