Title page for ETD etd-04112008-123239

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Wagner, William John
URN etd-04112008-123239
Document Title The use of simulation and gaming for National Security training and planning with reference to selected case studies
Degree MSS
Department Political Sciences
Advisor Name Title
Prof A Du Plessis Supervisor
  • conflict game
  • gaming
  • military strategy
  • national power
  • national security
  • national security practitioner
  • national strategy
  • security
  • seminar game
  • simulation
  • strategy
  • theatre strategy
  • wargame
Date 2007-09-05
Availability restricted

The aim of this study is to provide a critical analysis of the use of simulation and gaming for the training of national security practitioners and the application thereof as a decision and planning support tool in national security planning. The aim of the study emanates from the research question, namely: Can strategic level simulation and gaming be used effectively to improve the quality of national security training and planning? This leads to the two subsidiary questions, namely: Which simulation and gaming practices are used on the national strategic level? and: How effective is the use simulation and gaming practices on the national strategic level for training, as well as planning and decision support?

As a point of departure, selective theoretical perspectives with regard to strategy, national security and simulation and gaming were provided. Strategy was the first concept to be defined and levels of strategy were explained. Strategy was followed by the concept of national security. Security and the different schools of thought on security provided the background to the deliberation on national security, including the elements of national power. In preparation for the reflections on simulation, the needs of the national security practitioner, as well as the planning and decision support for national security planners were considered. Modelling, simulation and gaming were also discussed, giving some thought to game theory as well.

The fundamentals of two specific SimEvent types, namely seminar gaming and conflict gaming were subsequently analysed, along with several examples of each. This was followed by an evaluation of two case studies. The first case study involved seminar gaming at the South African National Defence College (SANDC). A brief overview of simulation and gaming in the South African National Defence Force and specifically the SANDC provided the background for the description of the gaming activities at the SANDC. Seminar gaming was used in this case study, but for several reasons, ncluding the lack of time and commitment, simulation and gaming at the SANDC was terminated. The second case study involved the Strategic Crisis Exercise (SCE) at the United States Army War College (USAWC). Conflict gaming, as a form of wargaming, is used in this case and, given the fact that this event is a formal scheduled activity in the residential course, as well as the importance attached to the game by the USAWC, it is repeated annually. The SCE is a high profile event on the calendar of the USAWC and is annually completed with good results.

This study confirmed that strategic level simulation and gaming could be used effectively to improve the quality of national security training and planning. It also pointed out that seminar gaming and conflict gaming can be utilised for strategic level simulation, specifically for national security purposes. The study also indicated that the use of simulation and gaming for training and planning on the strategic level can only be effective if strategic level processes and structures are in place and if the organisational culture favours experiential training by means of simulation and gaming.

University of Pretoria

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