Let Slip the Dice of War!

Beach shares what has got to be the most badass wargame story, ever. During a Middle East game scenario (Millennium Challenge 2002) Marine Lt. Gen Paul K. “Rip” Van Riper (ret.) pulled out all the stops as commander of the Red team. He played to win, silencing all the easily monitored electronic communications on the Red side to nullify the Blue signals intelligence advantage. After a fusillade of Red anti-ship missiles and suicide attacks by small aircraft and ships sank 16 Blue vessels (one aircraft carrier, 5 of 6 amphibious ships and 10 cruisers) with simulated casualties of 20,000 to the Blue side, the decision was made to reset the game clock, “re-float” the sunken Blue vessels and Red was required to allow Blue to make an amphibious landing.  “Rip” resigned to protest the rigging of the game, and the rest is current U.S. military doctrine.

Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, former guitarist with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, has made a bit of a splash in National Defense circles. Besides bringing up the possibility of adapting the Navy’s Aegis anti-plane defense system to intercept missiles, too, during one Pentagon war game his insurgents injected oil-eating bacteria into Saudi oilfields. He won that round.

Sometimes the line between games and the war they simulate get blurred. In 1944 the Fifth Panzer Army had just begun a war game when reports began arriving of a strong American attack in the Hűrtgen area — exactly the area they were gaming on their map table.  Generalfeldmarschall Walther Model ordered the participants to continue playing, using the messages they were receiving from the front as game moves. The real-time integration of simulation and battle reports fromt he front allowed reserves to be committed in record time and the American assault was repulsed.

When enemies could be honored: there is a stone monument with a bronze plaque at the Hürtgen military cemetery dedicated by veterans of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division to the memory of Friedrich Lengfeld (29 September 1921–12 November 1944), a German lieutenant mortally wounded while helping a wounded American soldier out of the “Wild Sow” (“Wilde Sau“) minefield. It is the only such memorial for a German soldier placed by his erstwhile opponents in a German military cemetery.

I heard a tale about a joint U.S.-Australian flight simulation exercise. Someone mapped the digital behavior of kangaroos from a human “townspeople” model (you know “AIEEE! Yankee helicopters! Run for the huts!”), but some odd “inheritance” issues emerged. During a simulated helicopter run, some of the kangaroos engaged with small arms and RPGs, not something the pilots (or programmers) were expecting. Snopes heard this one, too, and it wasn’t an entirely bogus tale after all. Over-embellished, maybe, but basically factual.

An economist quits the rat-race to go sell bagels, but he can’t help crunching the numbers. This gets ZachWeiner thinking about the personal economics of morality.  All I know is that we used to head up to the executive floor to steal ‘honor snacks’. Hard to factor that into the bagel statistics.

Fox & Friends: It’s always sunny in Germany, so solar power works there but not here, right? Never mind all that complicated stuff like subsidies, feed-in tariffs and all that! If you are simple minded (or just a sociopathic liar) best get your résumé to Fox News.

You’ve got shovels and reflective stuff? Here’s a neat idea: an earth-pit solar cooker.  Here’s the old “solar lighter from a soda can and chocolate bar” trick.

Bad haircuts aren’t actually forever: the leader of that Amish beard-cutting clan just got 15 years in jail.


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