Thursday, August 26, 2021

Kabul 2x2 Shotgun Wargaming

Time to pull out the Salamander wargame matrix.

When I talk “wargame” I am not talking about something that is done with a board with a bunch of little pieces being moved around, that is a Tactical wargame. No, what I am talking about is a grey-matter wargame at the Operational and Strategic level.

For those who don’t follow me on twitter, I outlined how this works a couple of weeks ago, 

For those not in "the guild" - "Blue" here are the good guys, the "Red" here are the bad guys. I'm only going to do 1 combination and 1 round. I'll define that for you; "1 combo" is how you run Blue vs. Red in the matrix you see here. You simplify Blue & Red in to two Courses of Action (COA); 1) Most Likely (defined by habit, requires least initial effort or risk by the party & assumes pliability of opponent to your will), 2) Most Dangerous (unexpected weighting of risk & action within ways & means, but not habit). The "turn" is one cycle of "Action-Reaction-Response." Different wargames have different structures & like religions, there are many confessions. 

This is how I ran things usually for NATO, heavily influenced by my German & Dutch Army peers, along with a few things of my own. I am doing this by myself playing both sides when - which is not canon or habit - I would prefer two 4-person teams plus an umpire, but you get what you pay for.

Let me quote for you from my Bible;

Here we are for today’s War Game for 26AUG21. This really needs to be done at least daily, if not twice daily from here on out through the quickening. 

Let’s define our COA.

Blue Most Likely: Tuck and Go

- Blue will stick to the 2359 Kabul time departure on 31AUG21. Senior officer will be the last boot on the last aircraft out. Equipment not usable will be destroyed in place

Blue Most Dangerous: Hungnam

- Blue will refuse to stick by the 31AUG21 deadline due to incomplete evacuation. While asking for more time, Blue will posture aggressively toward, and react accordingly, to any attempt to shrink the airport perimeter by Red.

Red Most Likely: Mujahid Delight

- Red will make every effort to seem the reasonable and honorable partner. Random incidents will be condemned as “rogue elements” or the newly minted ISIS-K forces. Every effort is made to look as positive and helpful as possible inside the framework of helping foreign forces extract themselves from Kabul.

Red Most Dangerous: Gandamak Thirsty

- Red wants to maximize the humiliation of Western and specifically American forces. While maintaining a, “we are doing our best” outward appearance, the security perimeter around the Kabul airport will be allowed to deteriorate. Various direct and indirect threats will be allowed to occur in the days leading up to 31AUG21 and if they cascade, will be permitted to go forward. As of 0000:01 01SEP21, Taliban and allied forces will take control of the entire airport and disarm any other forces by any means necessary.

As I am a one man show, and we don’t have time today to spend an hour fleshing out the result of each wargame. Here are the results of the four wargames conducted in my brain bucket for discussion.

BML vs RML: Quite Humiliation

- This is the best result as seen by the Biden Administration. Everyone follows the rules like the Model UN they did when they were 16-yrs old. Norms were obeyed, and the next week can be spent discussing how awesome the numbers were and any Americans left behind, well, they were warned so that’s on them.

BML vs. RMD: Doorgunner Wave

- US forces never make it to 2359:59 31AUG21. The security environment falls apart in a collapsing series of shrinking perimeter lines demarcated by the bodies of combatants and noncombatants killed by everything from small arms to VBIED. Maybe a C-130 but perhaps a CH-47 will be the last unit out, taking fire as it leaves. American dead and wounded were probably left behind, but that is unknown.

BMD vs. RML: Inside Straight

- US bluff to stay after the deadline works. While Taliban checkpoints are holding firm, no efforts are made to take the airport by force. Isolated security incidents happen, but nothing that threatens evacuation. Further qualified evacuees continue to arrive at Kabul airport though a variety of means.

BMD vs RMD: Osama’s Pride

- Taliban calls US bluff. With a short statement, “The United States violated our agreement. They have no honor.” or something to that effect. At 0000:01 01SEP21 a pell-mell attack on the airport conducted from all sides with a last stand at the tower or other fortified building. Taliban and international press, along with untold numbers of phone video, live stream the entire event for hours on end. Most captured Americans executed live except for female civilian and military personnel who are seen loaded in to vehicles leaving the airport.

What are the odds of the four? That I don’t know. 

Tomorrow’s matrix may be different, but wargaming like this isn’t to predict the future, but to make sure you are prepared for different combination of possible futures. Hopefully you’re close.

It appears that our wargames in June and July were not close. Maybe we have a new team running them now.

UPDATE: right after this post went live, reports of the event at the Abbey Gate at the Kabul airport have come out. The odds of Gandamak Thirsty getting better odds weighting have increased.

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