Leadership: April 2, 2002

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The Army's annual War College class concludes the ten-month course with a traditionally complex wargame scenario in March. Regarded as the "final exam" of the course (which officers must complete to command brigades), the scenarios are often intricate, terrifying, and confusing, all at the same time. The 10-day scenario included 1,900 "data inputs" of which most were false, misleading, or irrelevant, but about 350 were the scenarios "hard data". There was no way to tell the truth from nonsense without further study of the scenario, the situation, intelligence files, and "military common sense". This year, for the first time, the scenario (set in 2013) included major terrorist attacks on the American Midwest. At the same time, rebels attacked the Panama Canal, China invaded Vietnam, Indonesia attacked Borneo, Iraq and Syria built up troops to invade Turkey, and an outbreak of piracy threatened to shut down Pacific Ocean cargo routes. To make the scenario more realistic, the Army recruited actual officials from the FBI, Justice Department, FEMA, and other agencies. Whenever one of the colonels taking part in the scenario wanted to talk to the Justice Department, he actually talked to an official of the Justice Department (who was working from a script). As part of the exercise, some of the students are questioned by mock "congressional committees" who demand answers, actions, and explanations. Also included are press conferences and "ambush interviews", and students could see their statements repeated, rehashed, and twisted on Strategic News Network "broadcasts". (Most of the "reporters" are Army Reservists from a public affairs unit.). Many of the international students (from 42 nations) were given rolls as foreign diplomats and UN officials.--Stephen V Cole

 


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