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U.S. military wargaming is under threat, argues analyst

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When the U.S. military engages in wargames to analyze theoretical geopolitical struggles and determine their possible outcomes, it's similar to what some video game players do, according to an article at Kotaku by Michael Peck, a writer specializing in wargames.

"Now, to the military, wargaming doesn't mean games," Peck writes. "It's actually an analytical technique in the Military Decision Making Process, which essentially means analyzing the likely outcomes of various choices and then making the best one. Nonetheless, what Joe Gamer thinks of as wargames — simulations involving players, maps, playing pieces and goals — is done by the military."

The Center for Applied Strategic Learning at National Defense University, where all branches of the U.S. military cooperate to conduct wargames, is facing budget cuts. As Peck wrote in Foreign Policy, a magazine focused on global politics, economics and diplomatic issues, "critics worry that narrowing NDU's mandate will deprive the United States of big-picture thinking at a time when American planners are struggling to adapt to changing geopolitical and budgetary circumstances."

According to Peck, it's a strategic mistake familiar to strategy game players, themselves a kind of amateur wargamer.

"When a nation's strategic situation changes, that's when it needs strategic wargaming," he wrote at Kotaku. "Anyone who has played Hearts of Iron or Axis & Allies knows there are choices of where and when to fight, and what kind of military must be built to achieve those goals."