Military exercise

A military exercise is the employment of military resources in training for military operation
Military operation
Military operation is the coordinated military actions of a state in response to a developing situation. These actions are designed as a military plan to resolve the situation in the state's favor. Operations may be of combat or non-combat types, and are referred to by a code name for the purpose...

s, either exploring the effects of warfare
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 or testing strategies without actual combat
Combat, or fighting, is a purposeful violent conflict meant to establish dominance over the opposition, or to terminate the opposition forever, or drive the opposition away from a location where it is not wanted or needed....

. Exercises in the 20th century have often been identified by a unique codename in the same manner as military operations.

Types of exercises

Field exercise
The more typically thought of exercise is the field exercise, or the full-scale rehearsal of military maneuvers as practice for warfare. Historical names for field exercises in the Commonwealth include 'schemes.' In a field exercise, the two sides in the simulated battle are typically called "red" and "blue", to avoid naming a particular adversary.

Other types of exercise include the TEWT (Tactical Exercise Without Troops), also known as a sand table, map or cloth model exercise. This type of exercise (in recent years assisted by computer simulation
Computer simulation
A computer simulation, a computer model, or a computational model is a computer program, or network of computers, that attempts to simulate an abstract model of a particular system...

) allows commanders to manipulate models through possible scenarios in military planning. This is also called warfare simulation, or in some instances a virtual battlefield
Virtual battlefield
A virtual battlefield is the digital simulation of a war, generally accomplished by the combination of differing simulators into a digital environment. Each soldier, or vehicle in the environment is controlled by a human being. A functioning virtual battlefield has long been sought after by DARPA...

 and in the past has been described as "wargames." Such examples of modern military wargames include DARWARS
DARWARS is a research program intended to accelerate the development and deployment of military training systems. These are envisioned as low-cost, mobile, web-centric, simulation-based, “lightweight” systems designed to take advantage of the ubiquitous presence of the PC and of new technology,...

, a serious game
Serious game
A serious game is a game designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment. The "serious" adjective is generally prepended to refer to products used by industries like defense, education, scientific exploration, health care, emergency management, city planning, engineering, religion,...

 developed since 2003 by the US DARPA agency with BBN Technologies
BBN Technologies
BBN Technologies is a high-technology company which provides research and development services. BBN is based next to Fresh Pond in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA...

, a defense contractor
Defense contractor
A defense contractor is a business organization or individual that provides products or services to a military department of a government. Products typically include military aircraft, ships, vehicles, weaponry, and electronic systems...

 which was involved in the development of packet switching
Packet switching
Packet switching is a digital networking communications method that groups all transmitted data – regardless of content, type, or structure – into suitably sized blocks, called packets. Packet switching features delivery of variable-bit-rate data streams over a shared network...

, used for ARPANET
The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network , was the world's first operational packet switching network and the core network of a set that came to compose the global Internet...

, and which developed the first computer modem in 1963.

Joint exercise
Several different armed forces training together are called having a joint exercise. Said forces may be different branches of the armed forces from one country or may be armed forces from different countries.


The modern use of military exercises grew out of the military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 need to study warfare
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 and to 'reenact' old battles for learning purposes. During the age of Kabinettskriege
Kabinettskriege is the German expression referring to the type of wars which affected Europe during the period of absolute monarchies, from the 1648 Peace of Westphalia to the 1789 French Revolution...

(Cabinet wars), Frederick the Great
Frederick II of Prussia
Frederick II was a King in Prussia and a King of Prussia from the Hohenzollern dynasty. In his role as a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, he was also Elector of Brandenburg. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel...

, King of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

 from 1740 to 1786, "put together his armies as a well-oiled clockwork mechanism whose components were robot
A robot is a mechanical or virtual intelligent agent that can perform tasks automatically or with guidance, typically by remote control. In practice a robot is usually an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by computer and electronic programming. Robots can be autonomous, semi-autonomous or...

-like warriors. No individual initiative was allowed to Frederick's soldiers; their only role was to cooperate in the creation of walls of projectiles through synchronized firepower."

This was in the pursuit of a more effective army, and such practices made it easier to look at war from a top-down perspective. Disciplined troops should respond predictably, allowing study to be confined to maneuvers
Military exercise
A military exercise is the employment of military resources in training for military operations, either exploring the effects of warfare or testing strategies without actual combat...

 and command
Command and Control (military)
Command and control, or C2, in a military organization can be defined as the exercise of authority and direction by a properly designated commanding officer over assigned and attached forces in the accomplishment of the mission...

The stunning Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

n victory over the Second French Empire
Second French Empire
The Second French Empire or French Empire was the Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.-Rule of Napoleon III:...

 in the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 (1870-71) is sometimes partly credited to the training of Prussian officers with the game Kriegspiel
Kriegspiel (wargame)
Kriegsspiel, from the German word for wargame, was a system used for training officers in the Prussian army. The first set of rules was created in 1812 and named Instructions for the Representation of Tactical Maneuvers under the Guise of a Wargame. It was originally produced and developed further...

, which was invented around 1811 and gained popularity with many officers in the Prussian army. These first wargames were played with dice
A die is a small throwable object with multiple resting positions, used for generating random numbers...

 which represented "friction", or the intrusion of less than ideal circumstances during a real war (including morale
Morale, also known as esprit de corps when discussing the morale of a group, is an intangible term used to describe the capacity of people to maintain belief in an institution or a goal, or even in oneself and others...

, meteorology
Meteorology is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere. Studies in the field stretch back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the 18th century. The 19th century saw breakthroughs occur after observing networks developed across several countries...

, the fog of war
Fog of war
The fog of war is a term used to describe the uncertainty in situation awareness experienced by participants in military operations. The term seeks to capture the uncertainty regarding own capability, adversary capability, and adversary intent during an engagement, operation, or campaign...

, etc.).

21st century militaries still use wargames to simulate future wars and model their reaction. According to Manuel de Landa
Manuel de Landa
Manuel De Landa, , is a writer, artist and philosopher who has lived in New York since 1975. He is presently the Gilles Deleuze Chair of Contemporary Philosophy and Science at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland; a lecturer at the Canisius College in Buffalo, New York; a lecturer...

, after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 the Command, Control and Communications (C3) was transferred from the military staff to the RAND Corporation, the first think tank
Think tank
A think tank is an organization that conducts research and engages in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, and technology issues. Most think tanks are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax...


Von Neumann
John von Neumann
John von Neumann was a Hungarian-American mathematician and polymath who made major contributions to a vast number of fields, including set theory, functional analysis, quantum mechanics, ergodic theory, geometry, fluid dynamics, economics and game theory, computer science, numerical analysis,...

 was employed by the RAND Corporation, and his game theory
Game theory
Game theory is a mathematical method for analyzing calculated circumstances, such as in games, where a person’s success is based upon the choices of others...

 was used in wargames to model nuclear dissuasion during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. Thus, the US nuclear strategy
Nuclear strategy
Nuclear strategy involves the development of doctrines and strategies for the production and use of nuclear weapons.As a sub-branch of military strategy, nuclear strategy attempts to match nuclear weapons as means to political ends...

 was defined using wargames, SAM representing the US and IVAN the Soviet Union.

Early game theory included only zero-sum games, which means that when one player won, the other automatically lost. The Prisoner's dilemma
Prisoner's dilemma
The prisoner’s dilemma is a canonical example of a game, analyzed in game theory that shows why two individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interest to do so. It was originally framed by Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher working at RAND in 1950. Albert W...

, which models the situation of two prisoners in which each one is given the choice to betray or not the other, gave three alternatives to the game:
  • Neither prisoners betrays the other, and both are given short-term sentences
  • One prisoner betrays the other, and is freed, while the other gets a long sentence
  • Both prisoners betray each other, and both are given mid-sized sentences

While the first is their best overall choice, neither of them can be sure that the other wouldn't betray him (and thus be freed while he would get a long sentence). Thus, betrayal was considered as the most rational thing to do, i.e. minimax
Minimax is a decision rule used in decision theory, game theory, statistics and philosophy for minimizing the possible loss for a worst case scenario. Alternatively, it can be thought of as maximizing the minimum gain...

ing the losses (getting the possible
Possibility is the condition or fact of being possible. The Latin origins of the word hint at ability. Possibility also refers to something that "could happen", that is not precluded by the facts, but usually not probable...

 loss to be the minimal possible).

This modelization gave the basis for the massive retaliation
Massive retaliation
Massive retaliation, also known as a massive response or massive deterrence, is a military doctrine and nuclear strategy in which a state commits itself to retaliate in much greater force in the event of an attack.-Strategy:...

 nuclear doctrine. The zero-sum fallacy and cooperative games would be theorized only later, while the evolution of nuclear technology
Nuclear technology
Nuclear technology is technology that involves the reactions of atomic nuclei. Among the notable nuclear technologies are nuclear power, nuclear medicine, and nuclear weapons...

 and missiles made the massive retaliation nuclear strategy obsolete.

Military wargaming was thus progressively improved, although according to Manuel de Landa it still suffers today from a systemic bias
Systemic bias
Systemic bias is the inherent tendency of a process to favor particular outcomes. The term is a neologism that generally refers to human systems; the analogous problem in non-human systems is often called systematic bias, and leads to systematic error in measurements or estimates.-Bias in...

 on conflict
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 against cooperative behavior. Dice, which were a rational way to represent chaos, were replaced by the Prussians by artillery range tables, and then by evaluation of each weapon's lethality, etc.

See also

  • Maneuver warfare
    Maneuver warfare
    Maneuver warfare, or manoeuvre warfare , is the term used by military theorists for a concept of warfare that advocates attempting to defeat an adversary by incapacitating their decision-making through shock and disruption brought about by movement...

  • Flanking maneuver
    Flanking maneuver
    In military tactics, a flanking maneuver, also called a flank attack, is an attack on the sides of an opposing force. If a flanking maneuver succeeds, the opposing force would be surrounded from two or more directions, which significantly reduces the maneuverability of the outflanked force and its...

  • Pincer movement
    Pincer movement
    The pincer movement or double envelopment is a military maneuver. The flanks of the opponent are attacked simultaneously in a pinching motion after the opponent has advanced towards the center of an army which is responding by moving its outside forces to the enemy's flanks, in order to surround it...

  • Simulation
    Simulation is the imitation of some real thing available, state of affairs, or process. The act of simulating something generally entails representing certain key characteristics or behaviours of a selected physical or abstract system....

  • Aggressor squadron
    Aggressor squadron
    An aggressor squadron or adversary squadron is a squadron that is trained to act as an opposing force in military wargames. Aggressor squadrons use enemy tactics, techniques, and procedures to give a realistic simulation of air combat...

     (aircraft in military wargames)
  • Live fire exercise
    Live fire exercise
    A live fire exercise or LFX is any exercise in which a realistic scenario for the use of specific equipment is simulated. In the popular lexicon this is applied primarily to tests of weapons or weapon systems that are associated with the various branches of a nation's armed forces, although the...

External links

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