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Students participate in lunchtime wargames led by Prof. Aaron Danis

This semester, several IWP students and interns participated in Friday lunchtime wargames as an academic enhancement to their studies.

As part of Dr. Amanda Won’s China/Asia Program, they started out by playing Flashpoint: South China Sea, as they did in Fall.  Additionally, they played The Dragon and the Hermit Kingdom about a hypothetical modern conflict in Korea, with China aiding North Korea and the United States backstopping South Korea as part of a Coalition.

According to wargame advisor Professor Aaron Danis, “The Korea wargame shows the asymmetries between the two sides, with North Korea having a large but obsolete military facing off against the smaller but modern forces of the South.”

Said IWP student Carlos Alatorre of the Coalition team, “The game did a great job balancing the strength and capabilities of fewer units on one side against numerous low-cost but outmoded units on the other.”

Student playing The Dragon and the Hermit Kingdom Wargame
The Coalition players respond to North Korean and Chinese special forces missions behind their lines.

The two teams played the first week of the conflict, which was high intensity with heavy force losses on both sides, but particularly in the North Korean air force.

According to student Jonathan Jarrett, playing on the Coalition team, “The game demonstrates the difficulties of traversing and fighting in rough/mountainous terrain [along the Demilitarized Zone] and the importance of air support in offensive and defensive operations.”

The Dragon and the Hermit Kingdom Wargame Map
North Korean forces (yellow) supported by China (red) try to break through the South Korean defensive line (light blue) along the mountainous Demilitarized Zone to capture Seoul.

Students and interns also played a game not set in the Far East, Operation Serval, the French regional intervention into Mali in 2012 to defeat al-Qa’ida and its allies.

Prof. Danis said: “This game is quite different from the others, as the French Coalition player is sending a small but powerful expeditionary force into a fluid situation where al-Qai’da is driving on Bamako, the capital of Mali. The French want to stabilize the situation and roll al-Qa’ida back. Al-Qa’ida wants to avoid a stand-up fight with French forces while attacking the weaker Malian Army units.”

Said student Ed Goebel, who was part of the French Coalition team, “This wargame taught me about the importance of unity of action and precise coordination.”

Students playing the Operation Serval Wargame
The al-Qa’ida team responds as French expeditionary forces enter the map.