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Exercises and Wargaming in Professional Military Education

Conference at the Royal Norwegian Naval Academy in Bergen on 23–24 May, 2022.

On May 23-24, 2022, the Norwegian Defence University College (NDUC) and the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) held the conference “Exercises and wargaming in professional military education”.

It was hosted by NDUC’s Royal Norwegian Naval Academy and gathered some 80 officers and scholars from the Norwegian and allied armed forces, professional military education institutions, civilian higher education institutions, and the wider private and public sectors.  

The conference formed part of a research and development project carried out by 20 NDUC and FFI staff in cooperation with some of the world’s leading educational wargaming experts. That project aims to enhance NDUC’s use of such pedagogical methods to help cadets learn to plan and carry out military operations. While a medical student can practice in real hospitals what they have learned in class, cadets do not gain military experience in real wars. Instead, they use educational wargames, simulations, and exercises to learn how to make better decisions  more quickly. These are powerful educational tools. They facilitate experience-based learning; they engage students; they are riskfree and relatively inexpensive. In September 2022, the findings of this R&D project will be published in a special issue of Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies

Half of the conference was allocated to the demonstration of various educational games and simulations used in professional military education. The other half was dedicated to the following plenary presentations:  

NDUC’s Dean Saira Basit, PhD, and Commandant of the NDUC’s Royal Norwegian Naval Academy, Captain (N) Baard Eriksen opened the conference. 

Dr Peter Perla, US Navy, held the keynote address «Wargaming and the cycle of research and education». He is a household name for anyone working in the wargaming field and received the first award for Lifetime Achievement in Wargaming by the Connections Wargaming conference. 

Adjunct assistant professor Sebastian Bae, Georgetown University, provided an overview of “The global community of educational wargaming”. He is a central figure in the professional network “Educational wargaming cooperative”. 

Major Tom Mouat, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, who was a main contributor to the Ministry of Defence’s wargaming handbook, offered his life-long experience of playing and facilitating wargames in the presentation “The use and misuse of wargaming”. 

Major Melissa Sawyer, Wargaming Branch Head at NATO’s Joint Warfare Centre, talked about “Operational and strategic level wargaming” 

Professor Carsten Rønnfeldt, NDUC, gave the presentation “Exercises and wargaming in professional military education”. This situated the conference in the context of the above-mentioned R&D-project which he leads.   

Senior scientist Per-Idar Evensen, FFI, spoke about “Simulation-supported wargaming for assessing force structures”. 

Professor Ann Lisa Sylte, Metropolitan University’s Faculty of Teacher Education and International Studies gave a general introduction to “Didactics in exercises and wargaming”. 

Ass. Professor Une Elisabeth Stømer, University of Stavanger, presented “The medical profession: Simulation and learning”. She is head of InterRegSim – the Norwegian network for simulation in the specialist health care services.  

Commander Steffen Berge Øverland, NDUC, who was responsible for the conference, made the “Closing remarks”. 

Video from the conference

This video takes you through 8 games in 2 days in less than 3 minutes.

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