In preparation for a Middle East conflict, the Navy ran a simulation in 2002 between a group of American warships (Blue) and the naval and ballistic forces of an opposing Gulf power (Red). Red Team's skipper, retired Marine General Paul Van Riper, deployed a notably unconventional strategy:
In the simulation, General Van Riper sent wave after wave of relatively inexpensive speedboats to charge at the costlier, more advanced fleet approaching the Persian Gulf. His force of small boats attacked with machine guns and rockets, reinforced with missiles launched from land and air. Some of the small boats were loaded with explosives to detonate alongside American warships in suicide attacks.The result?
[T]he Blue Team . . . lost 16 major warships — an aircraft carrier, cruisers and amphibious vessels — when they were sunk to the bottom of the Persian Gulf in an attack that included swarming tactics by enemy speedboats.The mighty Felix tells me that this scenario is written up in greater detail in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, which has been on my reading list for some time. But the idea of multiple small Davids swarming a single Goliath resonates with a certain vintage of wargame geek.
Ogre was the first wargame Steve Jackson released at his new, eponymous company after he left Metagaming too many years ago. One player takes the side of an Ogre, a massive, soulless cybertank, sporting meters-thick armor and multiple weapons systems, rolling relentlessly across a nuke-scarred landscape toward a lonely command post. The other player must guard this post with an assortment of far smaller conventional and hovering tanks, missile units, and howitzers. Their numbers and mobility are a surprisingly close match for the Ogre, as they dart in and out of the cybertank's weapon range to knock out treads and guns and turn the Ogre into an immobile, disarmed hulk. With the right combination of units and a little luck from the gods of chance, the defender might just stand a chance of halting the beast.
It's too bad Blue Team didn't have at least one gamer geek of my generation in the room, else they might have had a chance against the Red hordes. We would've spotted that swarm shit a nautical mile away. I know people who would've met that threat with some sort of equally improvised counter-force and turned Red into fish food. Sadly, our kind is not welcome in the Pentagon. Their loss.