In the previous Tactical Decision Game, we looked at the battlefield from the perspective of the enemy commander. In TDG 7: The Other Side of the COIN, we return to our own perspective; the guerrillas. I ran the TDGs in this order to show how considering the enemy’s perspective can help you defeat him.
Again, this being a more generalized TDG, I will cover a few of the trends and close with the learning objectives for this week’s game.
Relocate the Camp
Drawing from last week’s observations, we conclude that the enemy commander may notice our trend of operating in the NE portion of the county. Since he is likely to focus his search efforts in this area, we would be wise to pick up and move elsewhere.
Shift focus to ANTIFA
Most readers suggested targeting the PLA’s proxy militia (ANTIFA, in this case) instead of the PLA itself. This makes sense for a number of reasons.
- The soft targets we’ve been attacking (convoys and checkpoints) will probably harden, and be more difficult to hit in the future.
- Since the enemy is using their proxy forces to brutalize/police the civilian populace, we would likely gain reputation (and thus support) with the citizenry by providing protection from the thugs. Bonus points if we catch them in the act.
- They carry less firepower and have less training than the PLA regulars.
- Their knowledge of the local area and people makes them especially useful to the PLA as guides and HUMINT resources. Killing them denies the enemy this resource.
The main difference was how to conduct the attack, ambush or attacking their camp. Attacking the ANTIFA camp is probably a bad idea because it is right next to the PLA’s base of operations. An enemy QRF would be right on top of us immediately, and we would probably be annihilated. It is better to engage the enemy as far away from their FOB as possible to slow their reaction time.
Split into smaller cells
Some readers suggested splitting our platoon of guerrillas into squad/team-sized elements and dispersing throughout the county to conduct independent operations. The pros to this solution are as follows:
- We don’t have “all of our eggs in one basket” so to speak. If the enemy compromises one cell of 5 guys, operations continue elsewhere in the county. This is better than the enemy discovering and destroying all 30 of us in one stroke.
- A squad of 5-10 men is much easier to hide than a platoon of 30.
The con to this solution are that we can no longer conduct large attacks on sizeable enemy targets. However, since the enemy is about to improve their security posture, that may not be possible anyway. Perhaps it is better to conduct harassing sniper attacks in 3-6 different areas at once, draining enemy resources and spreading them thin across the entire county. Death by a thousand cuts is still death.
Reduce EW footprint
Given the enemy’s SIGINT capabilities, it is wise for us to reduce the amount of radio traffic we put out. This goes hand-in-hand with the possible decision to split into smaller groups that operate independently. A 5-man team doesn’t need to radio anybody to operate.
There are other ways to reduce our electronic warfare (EW) footprint to mitigate the enemy’s SIGINT assets, too many to discuss in-depth here.
Learning Objective: Wargame the other side
I wrote TDGs 6 and 7 to get you to see how putting yourself in your adversary’s shoes can give valuable insight for your decision making. Understand that you are fighting living, thinking men. Men who will adapt and change their tactics to find new ways to kill you. Once you understand this, it is clear that you cannot become set into patterns of operating. Patterns make you predictable, and being predictable is a death sentence.
Wargame the enemy’s position. Consider what their objectives are, what tools they have, and how they will try to use them. You will need to change your tactics eventually. It is better to proactively change your tactics up by anticipating the enemy’s actions than to reactively change after the enemy does. He who adapts first stays alive for the next round.
Bonus Lesson: AI on the Future Battlefield
One reader, “Silverfox”, ran this TDG through ChatGPT and posted the answer that it spat out. The resulting answer was not very specific, but it wasn’t bad either and still reflected several of the points I made here.
This leads to a somewhat disturbing question. How will AI impact future battlefields? Will it be used to advise commanders on their decisions, or will it make decisions itself? More importantly, if this sort of thing can be done with open source AI, what has already been developed behind lock and key by our military and others? We’ve already seen AI implemented in combat by an Israeli drone swarm in 2021. What else has been fielded and in what capacity?
I shudder to think of it.