A war game involving NATO commanders and civilian experts
Between September 12th and 14th 2017, a war game entitled Air-Land Battle on NATO’s Eastern Flank took place in Warsaw, co-organized by the Casimir Pulaski Foundation and the Potomac Foundation. The game was designed to simulate a potential conflict in Central and Eastern Europe involving Poland and other NATO countries. The simulation itself was designed in order to investigate the potential course of the conflict, the ability to stop aggression on Poland, and a subsequent analysis of possible problems in co-operation between Polish and NATO forces. The war game itself run almost in parallel with the Russian Zapad 2017 military exercises and was, in some ways, an attempt to answer some of the concerns associated with those exercises.
September’s simulation is the second in a series of war games organized by the Pulaski and the Potomac Foundations first one of which, the Baltic Campaign, took place this January. Thanks to cooperation with the Potomac Foundation, it was possible to employ the foundations’ proprietary HEGEMON platform, a unique software tool developed for simulating conflicts on land, air and at sea – on an operational, tactical, theater and strategic level. The HEGEMON computer platform makes it possible to model not only movements of troops, but also characteristics of the terrain they operate in, as well as the precise simulation of military equipment that the opposing sides posses and utilize.
Among the participants were: Vice President of the Potomac Foundation Dr. Pillip A. Petersen, Dr. Reiner Huber of the German Federal University of the Armed Forces, Brig. Gen. Paul Tennant of the ARRC (Allied Rapid Response Corps), generals Jerzy Michałowski, and Waldemar Skrzypczak, Dr. Jacek Bartosiak, Director of Pulaski Warfare and Strategy Programming, representatives of the Polish General Command, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as military commanders from Sweden, Romania and the Baltic states.
The game took place over 3 days, between September 12th and 14th, during which time approximately two weeks of hypothetical conflict were simulated. Players were divided into four teams: Polish Land Forces, Air Force, and Territorial Defense Forces (operating under assumption that they are already fully formed and equipped), as well as NATO rapid response corps. The game consisted of four rounds, during which teams issued orders to their subordinate units.
According to the script, the game started on the 30th day of the conflict, which initially began with the aggressor forces (Red Team) invading Baltic states. From the point of view of this simulation it was particularly important to examine the general defense potential of the currently formed Territorial Defence Forces, and their ability to withstand frontal enemy attacks in particular.
In the course of the hypothetical conflict the attackers invaded Polish territory, leading an offensive from the East and Northeast directions, which was aimed at reaching the Vistula River. Both sides of the conflict were able to use a majority of their actual military assets.
Ultimately, the combined Polish and NATO forces have managed to fend off the enemy assault. However, when discussing the outcomes of the simulation it should be remembered that it was intended primarily to define previously unknown problems and issues, such as communications between Polish and NATO units, as well as the political and bureaucratic decision making processes pertinent to conflict escalation, rather than to find ultimative answers to those questions.