Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Do’s and Don’ts of Course of Action (COA) Wargaming

This article sets COA Wargaming in context, describes its aim and – briefly – the processes involved, and shows when it is best used. Most importantly, it suggests some do’s and don’ts that have been shown to significantly increase the benefits derived from COA Wargaming. 

According to the article, there is no formal definition or aim for COA wargaming. Although there have been several attempts to define it, those definitions are lacking in precision. It defines wargaming as a systematic method of analyzing a plan in a conscious attempt to visualize the ebb and flow of an operation or battle. A Wargame is a staff tool designed to visualize the battlefield and the possible interaction between opposing forces. By wargaming, commanders and staffs attempt to foresee the dynamics of action, reaction, and possible counteraction of battle.

COA wargaming is one instance in the professional wargaming tool-set. COA wargaming is primarily characterized by conflict or opposition to fully test the forming plan. Also, another important characteristic is that COA Wargaming will, almost certainly, be carried out under significant time pressure; this impacts how and when it is best conducted.

The paper continues to answer important questions like the aim of wargaming, characteristics, inputs, outputs, methods, participant, and when it should occur. It focuses on do’s and don’ts of the wargaming. 

The paper concludes that with well executed COA Wargaming can significantly enhance the decision-making process. If used, the do’s and don’ts suggested, it would go a long way in ensuring that the potential benefits offered by COA Wargaming are realized.

Critique: This article provides really good information regarding COA wargaming. Having a good understanding of COA wargaming is crucial in developing sound decision-making skills and good judgement. The ability to visualize possible scenarios in wargaming is a vital aspect to this process. It answers a lot of “what ifs” and helps for better preparedness – in learning to formulate a viable plan, acting, and reacting. It’s almost like a simulated foreshadowing of the battle and creates immense advantages that should not be overlooked. 

The application of wargaming concept in the ever-changing business world has huge benefits. It can help to anticipate competitors reactions and strategies in response to changes that may occur over the course of time.



  1. I agree with the application to the business world. In many ways, there are applications of wargaming in the business world today that necessarily may not be referred to as that, but has all the characteristics of it. There is always a need in highly competitive business areas to constantly look for ways to maintain competitive advantage either a proactive step or in response to a competitor.

  2. I like the way the author uses war gaming as a strategic tool. He's very thorough in stating what should and should not be done. Has this study been applied to any realistic war game scenarios?