NATO's Strategic Warfare Development Command

NATO’s Allied Command Transformation Develops Audacious Wargaming Capability

December 5, 2023

Audacious Wargaming Capability is an educational and tactical tool that promotes collaborative capabilities with Allies and industry partners to ensure that the Alliance can defend against any adversary – now and into the future.

Wargaming is a time-honoured tradition, credited with shaping military strategies around the world. The future of modern wargaming is part of NATO culture. Today’s generation is re-creating the art of professional wargaming in order to train NATO war fighters to lead, fight, and win in any environment.

Allied Command Transformation is actively developing its Audacious Wargaming Capability in its continued efforts to better understand the challenges facing the Alliance.

As part of its efforts, the Experimentation and Wargaming Branch is undertaking a comprehensive program aimed at developing the capabilities in order to deliver a cutting-edge wargaming experience and developing wargaming tools in partnership with the Modelling, Simulation, and Learning Technologies Branch.

Audacious Wargaming Capability presents scenario-based models and provides a safe-to-fail environment for decision makers to explore threats and practice decision-making, explore risks, and evaluate options for actions to support NATO’s Deterrence and Defence posture.

“While we certainly will not be able to predict the future, wargames can offer an awareness of possible futures and the implications of that awareness (or lack of). What Allied Command Transformation is doing is really the first step in addressing how the Alliance uses wargaming to shape that future,” said Colonel Nicholas Waldron, Head of the Experimentation and Wargaming Branch.

NATO’s Audacious Wargaming Capability has proven to enhance engagement with and educates stakeholders on how the utilization of wargaming remains the forefront of warfare development.

Audacious Wargaming contributes to Supreme Allied Commander Transformation’s objectives to support NATO operations, increase interoperability and readiness, and mitigate the risk of strategic surprise and global trends.

Earlier this year, Allied Command Transformation held the Wargaming Initiative for NATO 2023 (WIN 23) in Rome, Italy, co-chaired by France, Italy and Germany. The Wargaming Initiative for NATO began in 2022 as a bilateral initiative between France and Italy, supported by the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, General Philippe Lavigne. It has since evolved into a continuum of events, with Allied Command Transformation co-hosting NATO’s first practitioner-level wargaming conference at King’s College London in May, and conducting WIN 2023 in Rome.

As Wargaming continues to guide NATO’s modernization efforts, wargaming stands as an indispensable asset, helping to refine Alliance strategies, validate tactical approaches, and prepare the NATO team to face the intricacies of an ever-changing global landscape.

NATO continues to promote the benefit of wargaming, and how its leaders can improve decision-making through the development of national and Allied wargaming capabilities.

Examples of wargames that Allied Command Transformation staff designed included a matrix game for Allied Command Operations to test NATO’s Military Deterrence Response Options and further the Deterrence Concept; a human-in-the-loop simulation wargames to test Anti-Access Area Denial strategies; and a game to validate NATO’s Urbanization concept. Upcoming games are planned to explore and test the NATO Mine Warfare concept and the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept.

Allied Command Transformation’s Experimentation and Wargaming Branch also develops and conducts wargames, applying scenario-based models in which the outcome and sequence of events affect, and are affected by the decisions made by the players. Regardless of output type, the Experimentation and Wargaming Branch remains committed to developing partnerships of mutual benefit with the NATO Command and Force Structure, Nations, academia, and industry.

Through Audacious Wargaming, NATO continues to evolve a strategic mind-set that goes beyond risk and crisis management. As noted by Colonel Waldron, developing a wargaming mind-set is imperative, as “global events over the last year have shown all of us that we need to think differently. We need to challenge paradigms, explore new ideas, and find opportunities. Experimentation and Wargaming are increasingly important tools in NATO’s toolbox that allow us to gain insights before making final decisions.”