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Afghanistan Archives - Themself
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Tag archives for Afghanistan

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Book Review – Bullets and Brains by Leo Murray

Brains and Bullets: How Psychology Wins Wars by Leo Murray My rating: 5 of 5 stars This is an excellent and very readable book which tries to put some hard numbers on a variety of psychological tactics that can be used to persuade your own troops to fight and the enemy to give up. This is an excellent work on what happens in combat and why. It is very readable, structured into bite sized chunks on the key phenomena and then some joining up when it has all been explained. Each chapter opens with an account from a real soldier who experienced that psychological effect in combat. This is then analysed and explained, pulling in other examples as required to show that it isn't an isolated incident but a general effect. Those examples range from the Napoleonic Wars right up…
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Games on COIN

This post is prompted by an excellent post by the guys at On Violence. You should read Capturing Australia! COIN is Boring  to which this was my belated comment. McCormick model of insurgency (Photo credit: Wikipedia) My apologies for coming late to this one, I’ve been on leave for a couple of weeks now and being spending time with the family. I’ve been interested in designing a counter insurgency game since the mid 1990s. The original trigger for my interest were the decolonisation conflicts of the British Empire. This wasn’t a board game, nor a computer game. The group I belong to designs face to face games for multiple participants, a bit like the sort of command post exercises those of us who’ve done some military or civil contingencies time would recognise. I never ran the decolonisation game that prompted…
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Midnight in Some Burning Town –a Review

I actually enjoyed reading this book, even though it wasn’t the book that I thought I was buying. I had ordered it expecting that it would tell me about the various special forces missions that UK forces had been up to between the first Gulf War in 1990-91 and when it was published (in 2004). It sort of covered that, but there was no real detail to much of the early stuff, for example the Sierra Leone mission is dealt with in a couple of pages. I’ve seen some other (much more detailed) accounts of the events (from the point of view of the Paras and the kidnapped Major). However, where it does come into its own is when it explains the issues around Kosovo and Macedonia. The author obviously had a strong interest in this period (possibly based on…
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Another side of the COIN

I ran my game of being an Afghan farmer "The Other Side of the COIN" at the Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group's (CLWG) annual conference yesterday afternoon. This was its second outing, you can see my onside report from the first run here. Since the last outing the game has developed further to address some of the comments that the players made then. In particular I had a set of individual objective cards to drive some behaviours and give the players something to focus on that was essentially different each time the game gets played (and also makes the farmers all slightly different from each other, there is a danger that they all do the same thing). The other advantage of the cards is that it stops a purely economic rationality setting in immediately and just converting to grow poppy (because the…
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The Other Side of the COIN

Today was the September CLWG meeting. My game used the whole session and was looking to explore some of the things that might drive farmers to becoming insurgents in modern Afghanistan. I'm not quite sure that I achieved that, but it was a fun session and mostly worked as a game, although the economic model was quite broken. I'll leave it to some of the players to tell us the story of what happened. I had Jim, Mukul, Dave & Daniel as ordinary farmers, John R was the leading farmer and the acting Governor of the valley (not that he managed to persuade the others to do what he said much). Nick Luft was the local Chief of Police and Rob Cooper was the local cleric, and also a Taliban representative. On the whole the things I learnt from today…
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