Thursday, November 23, 2006

Strategic Decision Game

The Marine Corps Gazette has a feature called Tactical Decision Game. A scenario is outlined for a unit commander, you're given incomplete information, a mission to accomplish and a few minutes to issue an order. The idea isn't to come up with a school solution, but to come up with a descision and how you'e implement your orders and why. Then discuss.

Like this.
You are a first lieutenant commanding a light tank section attached to 1st Platoon, Company C, 2d Combat Engineer Battalion. Your engineer company had been operating in support of 1st Battalion, 8th Marines. Your section consists of two M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, one with a mine plough and the other with a blade. 8th Marine Regiment is taking part in large-scale military operations against the national forces of Urmac.

At 0130 last night your unit crossed the line of departure and made its way through a series of lanes cut through antitank berms and minefields. Toward 0430 you encountered a small blocking force that your company brushed aside, allowing you to pass Phase Line Dakota by daylight as planned. Your entire regiment is in search of the main body of the Praetorian Guard Division, one of the enemy’s elite armored divisions. The Praetorian Guard Division is equipped with T62 and T72 tanks and associated Soviet-style light armored vehicles (LAVs). This division operates using the principles of the former Warsaw Pact doctrine.

The terrain you are operating in is mixed desert with areas of hard-packed surfaces, offering excellent mobility, rough and broken terrain, and soft sand. The whole area is interspersed with the odd palm grove and isolated mud brick outbuildings. The one main road is paved and two lanes wide, but just.

It is beginning to get warm outside, and you have the hatches open. You are standing up in your hatchway searching the area to your right front through binoculars when you sight a plume of dust about 400 to 500 meters to your north. The dust cloud is heading away from you at an oblique angle to the northeast. You make out an OT–64—an eight-wheeled LAV. Judging by the several radio antennas, it is in a command configuration (OT–63R–2M).

Over the net you order, “Loader, high explosive, antitank. Gunner, target LAV, right, rough bearing 90 degrees, acquire, and fire. Driver, turn right 90 degrees and stop.”

You hear and feel your crew respond to your orders. Next, you switch communications links to talk to your number two. “Loco 4, Loco 3. Enemy LAV headed northeast about 500 meters from us. Keep an overwatch on the area to your immediate front. Out.”

Your turret begins to traverse right, and you drop down and close the hatch. Suddenly, the command net crackles, “Loco 3, this is Red Top 5 (call sign from an unmanned aerial system operations center). I have four T72s headed your way, approximately 1,000 meters to the east on Route Yankee. They are all crew exposed and traveling at 15 to 20 kilometers per hour. I don’t think they are aware of your presence. Over.”

You acknowledge the report. Looking through your commander’s sights you can see that the OT–64 is nearly acquired. The gunner is only moments away from squeezing off the main gun, an order you have already cleared him for. What now lieutenant?
Clearly you have options but it's not clear what the best one is.

This reminded me of that, but on a strategic level.

The Air Force Learjet had been airborne for two minutes when a cell phone buzzed, and the Secret Service captain answered it and handed it off to the Vice President Elect. "It's Mr. Cheney, sir," he said.

"Gavin?" Dick Cheney asked. "Yes, sir," Newsom replied, subdued, for the events of the last hour had sobered up his elated mood considerably.

"Okay, Gavin. I don't know what you know, so I'll tell you what I can. There have been approximately 20 nuclear strikes on government and financial targets in the US, about an hour ago. No real damage estimate yet, except that it's awful. A hundred times 9/11, maybe a thousand times. I happened to be at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and have moved into Cheyenne Mountain to set up a temporary HQ, until we get things sorted out. As you know Cheyenne was vacated by NORAD a few years ago, so we have plenty of space. You will be flown here, nonstop."

"I know you haven't a lot of national and international experience." Cheney had thought of saying that Newsom had none, but Newsom would be too painfully aware of that. He didn't need reminding. "The President is missing and presumed dead. So is Mrs. Clinton. So you may become the next president, in about six weeks. I don't know. he Constitution says the Vice President succeeds a president who is dead or disabled, but it doesn't say what happens if the President Elect dies before being inaugurated. I suppose the Court will have to answer that, if we can cobble one together by then. In the meantime, I will assume you will be inaugurated. You'll have a steep learning curve, a real steep curve. All presidents do, under the best of circumstances, and these are not the best of circumstances."
What now Vice President Elect Newsom?

I don't know how plausible the scenario outlined in linked document is. I think the bits about the domestic scene are overplayed a bit. I know that on 9/10 using civilian airliners as imrovised cruise missiles was the stuff of implausible fiction.

Via. See the link for Joe's comments.
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