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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Project 6 Journal Notes: Operation Scimitar Game Study, Jan-July 2008

[Author's Note: Put on the Cepia Clublog below are the original, unrevised, war game Project 6 (Cepia Games & Theory) notes on a hypothetical war between the US/Nato and Iran, et al. Much of our study had some surprising reinforcement in the news since June of this year. This was only a theoretical study of what; how; who; why; where; and perhaps when. Scipio Cepiacanus).

January 7, 2008

[This is part of continuing blog kept on Club HQ net space on The Cepia Club LLC’s Project 6: Cepia Games and Theory. Project 6 has been ongoing since 1994. We do serious model simulation building and testing. We attempt, undermanned and with very little money, to do professional-results quality forecasting. We are not war-jolly gamers. The value of Model Simulation Games is proven by think tanks and agencies that use them. Our own modeling analyses have been a large basis of our accuracy in many of our predictions for the politics of war and peace since 1998. And we have become better with the MSGaming and our predictions as time has passed. If there are doubts, then you haven’t paid heed to our stuff. (In May 2007, I used an MSG format to predict to my nephew that the Packers would win at least 10 or 11 games this year and a playoff bye. I also used an MSG to tell my nephew in late September/first week of October that Barak Obama would win Iowa. This is among other things. However, MSG forecasting is not always 100% accurate, but 60-70 % likelihood has been Project 6's norm).If anyone is interested in learning more about Cepia Project 6, see the upcoming Cepiaglobal Futures Report (free until February 29, 2008). TJK]

Operation Scimitar Set-up Study

I've been adjusting and studying the new “Operation Scimitar” game map I set up for a war against Iran and examining the options/ deployment logic all weekend. I imagine I will start play as soon as I learn all I can at this stage. With the Club strategy matrix (Informed/command, logistics/security, tactical/deception, and operational/surprise), the Al Qaeda command network has always been represented in the center quadrant, and was centered into Afghanistan since 1996 as the hq of Usama bin Ladin. AQ is a non-state, ethereal system of a political/ideological policy: In self-germinating"idea" growth.

Afghanistan/Pakistan, because of the nukes, the politics, and the geography, is more their security/logistics base. Afghanistan serves partly as a convenient tactical (not grand strategy) deception (a consumption of considerable effort on our part) to make us believe/waste/disperse a significant portion of our strength (material, political policy) there. It is a significant disproportion of effort on our part for rather small gain.

Iraq fits the paradigm in the larger context of deception, with the focus of oil ONLY as it relates to Iran and the entire Persian Gulf; the mashkrivoka--the grand strategic deception done by tactical means. The Islamists have used it conveniently, I believe at this point from the model simulations Club Project 6 has done since fall 2002, as the con-man “implement”-get us to fight for something we think we want, not what is important to them. In other words, it is blinding our policy toward that war.

Iraq was the bait and Iran is now the hook, and the entire gulf is a net trap.

As an indication of the operational surprise the Club forecasts, look at where most of the insurgency has been taking place for three years--Baghdad and points westerly of there in Anbar. Look at how we get there: The sea lines of communication in the gulf. As it goes, there is no oil in that part of Iraq, and a LOT of Sunnis tending toward or susceptible to the Salafist ideology. It is also the one-time caliphate. That has historical meaning for them, and why we find most of “them” there. But still, for the US and Europe, and our Asian friends, we engage them there to protect the access to oil.

The operational “surprise,” the Western geo-political/geo-strategic weak point in this whole war with the Islamists, I realized two days ago, (network manuever?) is in the Hejaz of the Arabian Peninsula/ the Horn of Africa / and the West Bank religious centers of Islam: With the focal point around Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem. Added to Islam’s traditional political capital of Baghdad, it forms a rough area where AQ and their grass roots allies could operate successfully while they try to close the net in the Gulf. They have lived in those deserts for millennia, began their religion, started the Prophet’s conquests. And Lawrence led their first revolution, successfully, in that exact place 90 years ago. The fact that very little is heard of the war in the Horn, or that we have gotten little if any mainstream news on Salafi/AQ activities in this general Mecca-Medina area for over a year since Ethiopia invaded Somalia with US military action, and until last week with the Kenya uprisings, is damned curious to me at this point.

It occurred to me that the Salafists terrorism BEGAN in Mecca with the "revolutionary" uprising around 1978/79 (?). Several thousand pilgrims–revolutionaries and those who joined up on the spot--were killed. The Saudi army dealt with it, brutally. Where poorly started and failed "revolutions" start might indicate where they eventually want to succeed, but failed at first, like many revolutions, to set proper conditions. So, perhaps the last 30 years that is what the Salafists have been attempting.

Finally, this particular area is where China has been most active politically, militarily (they have had at least 5000 troops in the Sudan for at least 4 or 5 years), and economically (oil deals with nations in East Africa for future development have been numerous but widely dispersed, reported in the mainstream US news, and widely ignored or underestimated). This is a grand strategic move on some level. It remains to be told to the American public. The results of however these connections play out will be fateful.

January 14, 2008; 10:50 PM

In the Operation Scimitar study underway since late December 2007, one major indicator for which look in Project 6 for the 2-week window for war against Iran is the increased deployments of Marine Air Ground Task Forces (MAGTF) to the Indian Ocean Area. These units, either as a full Marine Expeditionary Force (divisional combat teams of corps-size capability), Marine Expeditionary Brigades, or Marine Expeditionary Units–Special Operations Capable. The MEU-SOC are MAGTFs of a reinforced battalion of Marine naval & air mobile infantry, a Marine Air Group of mixed attack and transport helicopters or Vertical Short Take-off and Landing (V-STOL) aircraft. The MEU-SOC are deployed as combined rapid-reaction strike groups on board a naval squadron of a cruiser, destroyer (both Aegis anti-air/missile systems), a frigate and nuclear attack submarine with conventionally-armed Tomahawk cruise missiles are formed around a small amphibious force aircraft carrier, and the entire Navy-Marine joint task force is called an Expeditionary Strike Group under Navy rear admiral of the line or Marine Corps brigadier general.

Our OPScimitar study believes that a major deployment to the Indian Ocean Area of a several Marine Air Ground Task Forces, of several smaller units or up to the larger MEF corps-sized force, is required for any feasible war against Iran. Our Scimitar study plan calls for a “routine” force rotation of a MEF, in western Iraq presently, coming out of theater with the announced arrival of a similar or 2 MEBrigade-sized replacement force. Once the outgoing and incoming Marine units are in the vicinity off the northern Persian Gulf or in the Kuwait area, the window of opportunity a US war against Iran arrives.

In our mapped out plan (which requires an additional force “rotation” of either two army, army reserve or army National Guard infantry or armored divisions into Iraq, and the then-presence of an airborne or air assault division-sized group) the newly arriving Marine’s will have updated operational maneuver from the sea (OMS)training (by ship, by land or by air-delivered assault). The fresh Marine units would, in our forecast, land as flank protection/mobile strike groups south of the limited war objective of the marsh area of Iran abutting Iraq’s Basra. The Marine units heretofore engaged in counter-insurgency operations in Iraq, with rusty OMS skills, would follow-on by delivery into secured the secured port area of Busher, if necessary.

The prime land objective of the war, the area known as Abadan, is the Islamic Republic of Iran’s prime oil producing center. Taking it as a political bargaining chip, while sinking Iran’s navy, blockading its ports, and using aircraft, cruise missile, and special operations forces strike groups to attack Iran’s underground nuclear facilities, research forecasts, is the most feasible way for the US to achieve its overall policy goals over Iran (be they anti-nuclear proliferation or otherwise).

A Marine flank/special operations capable force south of Abadan in the coastal flats around Busher give an added strength to such a war-plan. Busher has a Russian-built nuclear research reactor. Capturing it plays into the fiction of the public relations campaign of having taken a “weapons proliferation,” but publicly acknowledged, nuclear facility. Also, the Marine expeditionary forward base allows for deep heli-borne and V-STOL commando attacks against hardened, deeply-buried bunkers in Iran’s southern mountains that are otherwise out of range for such operations and impervious to conventional air- and cruise-delivered munitions.

So, what people might be able to anticipate for their own needs for awareness and activism for preventing this war, if this plausible war should prove to actually be unnecessary, is to focus on major Marine unit deployments announced or leaving for anywhere in the Indian Ocean Area between January 1st and February 28th 2008. It was noticed this evening on a CNN leader tape that “3200" Marine families were notified January 14th of their members’ deployment this spring for Afghanistan, in the Indian Ocean Area, fitting our simulation model. Marine troops in excess of 12-13,000 over this time frame for a phased delivery in the spring of this year is the estimated indicator for which to look. Just a final reminder, it only provides a window of opportunity for a US war on Iran, not its certainty.

January 17, 2008

Game Turn 1–Day of Decision by US for OpScimitar

US in Iraq: MultiNational Coalition Corps, 3rd Corps HQ, 3rd ACR, 3rd, 4th ID, 25th LID, 1 UH-60 Regiment, 7 combat support (including artillery, anti-aircraft, Mps, engineers–bodies on the ground), 5 combat service support groups, 10th SFG (Airborne), 1/160th SOAR, I MEF (1st, 5th, 7th, 6th MEB and 3rd Marine Air Wing of 3 groups 8 squadrons of fixed and rotary wing aircraft), 1st British Airborne Brigade group (with CSS), US 5th Fleet with DesRon, CruisDesRon, 1 SSN, CVN-65 Carrier Strike Group, UK/Commonwealth (UK FF/MCM, RAN FF in Gulf of Oman), US Tactical Air Force (12 air squadrons of F-15s, F-16s, A-10s, C-130s,).

NATO-US troops in Afghan Theater of Operations: 1 equivalent NATO airborne division, 1 NATO airmobile brigade, NATO CSS, 1 NATO helicopter squadron, US 10th MD, 1 mixed air group, 1 airbase group, 2CSS, SEAL TEAM 2, 1st SFG (A). IOA/PACCOM (USN part of CENTCOM) 7th Fleet with CVN-68 CSG, 2 SSN, 1CruisDesRon, 2 ESG (2 BLT from 4th Marines), 1 P-3 Orion Squadron.

NATO-MNF/Horn of Africa (based in or around Djibouti/Red Sea/Horn) 1 French MCM, 1 Israeli SSN, 1 French SOF battalion, 2 French helicopter squadrons [1 attack, 1 lift] US Joint Task Force HOA (1 CA, 1/4th Marines in MEU-SOC/ESG mentioned in 7th Flt. off-shore reserve, 5 CIA groups).

Game Turn 1 of Operation Scimitar was D-Day in Washington, D.C.–Decision Day to go ahead with the deployment for war. Already lined up from up to D -13 GT’s (26 days), a National Guard mechanized infantry division was in the pipe to arrive in Indian Ocean Area (IOA) beginning GT-3, along with supply. On D-Day US 4th MEB (three from Mediterranean and 9th MEB (-one Battalion Landing Team on ESG) from Okinawa (using game piece 7th Marine Amphibious Brigade from the First Edition) Amphibious Ready Groups (gear only, troops fly in) were on their way. I’m keeping the 9th MEB/ARGroup in PACCOM to de-OODA Chinese strategy (see below). The option is to use 9th MEB/ARGroup to close PLAN in IOA behind them. Also, from Okinawa, MEU-Expeditionary Strike Groups (1/9th Marines) moving toward straight of Malacca. Japanese NSDF, RNZNavy, and CVN-71, 2 SSBN, 2 SSN to hold line. CV-63 CSG moving from Malacca to IOA to serve as JSOC platform. 1st Brigade Combat Team of 82nd ABD flown to Kuwait. 1st Brigade Combat Team 1st CD (Mounted) put on MSC(SL-7) fast ships. 40 Royal Marine Commando ARG/LHA and British CVH moving from Gilbratar and joined by French CV/DD Task Force carrying Marine division to Djibouti. British airfield, B & G of 22nd SAS Regiment and SBS flown to Aden to counter act a political deal to “sell” Socrata basing rights to Iran. US MSC moving to Pgulf. British supply moving to Aden from Diego Garcia.

One striking thing about this opening round of the global military phase might be why UK reduced its Iraq commitment in half in the fall of 2007: It allowed them to use its limited armed forces to deploy on D-Day toward HOA/Red Sea/Aden more capable.

In GT 1, when Iran was pretty sure the US had made a "go" decision on the war, I left only speed boats, Silkworms and Fast Attack Craft (FAC) of Iran's within the Gulf. They will use Q-ships (converted freighters and specially rigged tankers) for mine, suicide, and block ships. The subs were moved to that shed and shallow port to mine the outside of straights from east and to conduct guerrilla sub war. The fleet with two battalions marines/amphibious ships, moved into the Gulf of Oman on the way to Socrata (?) and East Africa, at this moment, Kenya is a likely emergency base. Air mobile/air borne will follow them there. From the looks of it, the Iranians are better off fighting with everything near the Gulf of Aden, and lose what they got anyway, at sea rather than waste and lose capital ships (destroyers (DD/DDG) and frigates (FF) in the confines of the Persian Gulf. The Chinese (I set up my old crayoned Pacific map last night also) decided to send supply to Sri Lanka, with an airmobile, airbase, and marine Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) meet up. The Chinese supply ships will carry things to Socrata, elsewhere (? Kenya), and to Horn.

Getting Iran's "fleet" into the open sea, to threaten Gulf of Aden/Red Sea/Suez Sea line of communication (sloc)s at least gives them a better fighting chance to delay US ops in IOA, and help AQ "burn" Hejaz per map setup study. The US, once I get the Pacific Ocean/Malaca Straights set up, will be very under the nose of the small but capable Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (no joke) in the Western Pacific (WestPac).

January 21, 2008

Four Game Turns for the Operation Scimitar study war game have been done. Aside from the US deploying by air lift (the 82nd ABD and airfields for operation from the Persian and Oman Gulf coasts), the main problem is the overall strategy concerns, first, Chinese activities off Southeast Asia/Straights of Malaca. To counter-act, the ANZUS forces are providing back end cover for the IOA. Keeping the Chinese occupied in the WestPac has fallen to the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces, while trying to keep a lid on the Taiwanese political situation of the real impending referendum on independence in that country coming up. From the point of view of strategy, Taiwan’s politics seem rather distracting Chinese efforts to deploy anything toward their real-life new base on Sri Lanka (secured in the summer/fall of 2007 by treaty).

The real problem with NATO strategy to keep lines of communication open to the IOA are in the Red Sea/Horn of Africa-AO (see previous entry for Jan. 7, 2008). The whole line presents strategic, tactical, and operational problems. There is the AQ presence in the Horn itself, with AQ having launched suicide speed boat attacks and Iran beginning to cover the Iranian/Chinese joint base at Sudan with defensive minefields in Gts-3 & 4. Beginning close to the Port Sudan base is not necessarily provocative at this point, but it makes further mining off Jiddah more practical later–moving the mining from defensive belts to strategically offensives (both in terms of grand strategy and “pure” strategy). Having deployed a British SOF task force (SAS and Special Boat Service [SBS] to Aden in GT-1, the French fleet with amphibious force has just entered the Red Sea to augment the US/NATO/French joint and combined efforts against AQ operating from Djibouti. The French marines are replacing the US Expeditionary Strike Force moving from mobile OMS-support in Gulf of Aden and toward the Gulf of Oman.

A follow-on of 40 Royal Marine Commando and 42 RMC are off the north end of Suez. As in the OIF game scenario, Egypt as a political grand strategic problem holds multiple dangers to any US/coalition action in the IOA. So far, the UK being tied to a forward operating base in Cyprus sort of ties their leg to the East Med. Another consideration is the UN/African Union peacekeeping force actually in and about to be augmented in Sudan’s Dafur. This is the ostensible reason for the French deployment to the Red Sea. To prevent too much Command and Control, etc. confusion, and with the US predominantly required for activities in the Pgulf, the Red Sea-AO will be divided thus–French have control over the deceptive stability/CT operations in Africa to the West, and the UK will assume the responsibility for operations from the Levant down the coast, including the Hejaz, and up the Gulf of Aden to the border of Oman. British experience in this area in the 1960s and 1970s (the SAS fought two “wars” in this region of Aden/Jebel Akbar), and an even longer colonial history, seems a good fit for the strategic problem, but only below Suez. Egypt is still a conundrum. Soon to be explored more fully will be Israel/Hamas/Hezbollah/Lebanon/&Syria.

March 24, 2008–Mon., 11:55 PM–

Some Stuff in the News:

After a month of inactive gaming while doing map & scenario study, I began playing Operation Scimitar again about three weeks ago.

In Gts-8 & 9, Iranian naval units, which had entered Socatra under “diplomatic” cover in Gts 3 & 4, began laying mines off the Horn of Africa. At the same time, AQ naval guerrilla-terrorists dhows and speedboats mined some of the narrows of the Gulf of Aden. Within the Red Sea itself, the Iranian ship “hidden” in Port Sudan began laying mines as well off the coast of Eritrea. The Iranian navy Fast Attack Craft (FAC) at Port Sudan had been there under the Trojan Horse Chinese peacekeeping unit deployed for the last several “real” years as part of the African Union peacekeeping force for Darfur.

In the Operation OIF back-end scenario run from 2006-07, the Port Sudan scenario had remained inactive. However, in that scenario, the Iranian navy had a forward/deep base in the southwest Indian Ocean in Mozambique. “Real” life, China and Iran do have port visit rights in Sudan and Mozambique. Mozambique proved a less than satisfactory naval-insurgent-commerce raiding base in OPOIF, but it did have some practical use.

In tonight’s news, the Comoros government has invaded a rebel-held island with AU troops in a coalition against Col. Muhamad Akar. Under the OPScimitar scenario, Iran does need some sort of deep-flank base in the IO to effectively use its naval-insurgent-commerce raiding strategy against NATO sea lines of communication coming through the Suez/Red Sea route. As the scenario was set forth, Iran had entered Socatra under a political-diplomatic cover or treaty. While I may have beefed up the Iranian expeditionary force with 2 marine battalions, an amphibious assault platform and commercial craft (designated an Hover Craft game piece), escorted by Frigate-based and a Soviet Sovremny DDG-centered (two combat vessels of same type), an FAC, and one of Iran’s two airmobile battalions-equivalent units, there was enough deception factor in the movement to concentrate a commercial airline/commercial shipping surge to deploy what was needed. The Socatra move is the “ideal,” and hence provided the necessary diplomatic reason to deploy the UK expeditionary force to Aden, since it was Aden’s willingness to allow OR inability to prevent the Iranians from establishing a feasible privateer/mine warfare base so close to the Gulf of Aden choke point.

In sum, since Mozambique worked somewhat in the Op OIF scenario, the Comoros islands situation in real life fit into the model for a diplomatic cover initiative to establish a naval guerrilla-terrorist base in the deep-flank of Allied Indian Ocean operations.

Deployments Outside of Iraq

In the Scimitar study, China has a naval-air base established by GT-9 in Sri Lanka. They have a marine battalion and amphibious assault platform (their only one), an airborne regiment, an airbase, one fighter squadron (leap-frogged through Myanmar), commercial cargo ship squadron, an FFG-based SAG, and SS basing out of Sri Lanka. In the Gulf of Thailand west of the Malacca Straights, the Chinese they operate one DDG surface action group. This represents the sum of China’s surge & expeditionary capability. It does, however, represent a huge strategic dilemma for the Allies. One commercial ship is transporting supplies (mines?) toward Socatra and Sudan.

I have not played into the scenario the Indian Navy, seeing as how in the OIF scenario back in 2006-07 chaos had reigned in Pakistan, causing Indian to watch her back. India’s navy will now enter play in GT-11 with one CVA strike group, one DDG SAG, and an FFG SAG, two SS.

The French have deployed in Djibouti an airmobile division and one French marine-brigade team ARG. Two marine ARGs are moving past Malta to secure by “proximity” the north side of Suez. The marines ARG in Djibouti is ready to secure the south of the canal. The British Expeditionary Force in Aden has one infantry brigade, the airborne brigade, the 3 Commando Brigade, 1st Armoured Division, one SAS sabre squadron, and one section of Special Boat Squadron, and an airfield with Tornados and Harriers (FRGs), plus two-battalion-sized ARGs and one battalion-sized LHAs (these three units comprise in their entire RMC 3), and the mentioned MCM/FF. In the Mediterranean, a CVH is plying between Cyprus and Sinai, and a DDG-based SAG is south of Sardinia moving east. The Italian MCM/DD and the only remaining US 6th Fleet combat unit, a DesRon off Greece, are set to contain the Russian Black Sea Fleet of a Cruiser (Light), an MCM, a Russian ARG, and combat transport unit

In the IO, the US 7th Fleet has one CSG, a MEU–SOC/ESG, and an SSN screening the Chinese on Sri Lanka from the south, covering the US/UK Diego Garcia base. Surprisingly, the only Russian navy ship in the entire capable of any long-range deployment in the IO is an SSGN prepared to plaster Diego Garcia with a massive volley of Sunburn supersonic cruise missiles. Presumably, the missiles are conventional, but I could at least play two missiles as nuclear-armed. A Cruiser Destroyer Squadron in the middle of the IO escorting an AEO replentishment group, and an SSN covering the CruisDesRon from the Socatra based Iranian Navy. A CSG lurks off Yemen covering the Gulf of Aden and Socatra from Iran and Somali-based AQ naval guerrilla-terrorist units. This carrier strike group is necessary to escort the SLOCs. Off Yemen, the final units of the National Guard division (3rd Corps) and 1st Cavalry Division (18th Corps).

Outside of Hormuz, there is the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade forming the US strategic reserve for the IO. A CSG and SSN cover the straights from the east. Inside of the Persian Gulf, the fourth surged deployed CSG in the entire IO is off the Dhubai. A CruisDesRon, an Intelligence ship, a destroyer squadron, and two Marine MEU-SOC/Expeditionary Strike Groups form the 5th combat forces.

The really interesting deployments are in the Pacific. The remainder of China’s fleet, one DDG squadron, lurks between Hainan and Taiwan. The entire ANZAC naval force of one DDG, one FFG (New Zealand), and a marine ARG patrol the Malacca from within the Indonesian seas. An airborne battalion and an Australian SAS troop are on standby for air deployment to Java. Since the US has an SSBN squadron in the north Pacific, Russia has sortied her entire Pacific Fleet (some 20-23 ships formed around 2 SSNs, 1 SS, 1 CVH, 1 DDG, 1 CGN). Japan has deployed her entire fleet (about 10 ships–DDG, FFG, CVH, and SS). The US has one MEU-SOC/ESG, one CSG, two SSBNs (playing conventionally armed C-4 Trident missiles for attacking Iran’s deep nuclear plant bunkers with sub-orbital “Excaliber” type earth penetrating, depleted-uranium explosive projectiles), 2 SSNs, an SSGN (configured with anti-ship missiles), and an MCM. On Guam, an ASM-capable b-52 squadron and the only deployed F-22 squadron provide theater air support beyond those stationed on Okinawa.

In short, except for 4 surge-capable carriers, the entire naval combat capability of the US is surged into the IO and WestPac.

As expected, the hostilities began on the high seas. In Gts-8 & 9, Soviet-built Iranian diesel subs set out mine fields in the Gulf of Oman off the border of Iran and Pakistan. The Iranians did this to protect their submarine/commerce raiding base just west of the border at Konark. When the Wizard and I were researching google earth, if some of you recall, we determined that the “sheds” at the small shallow port could have been SS and FAC pens. Mining where we did also made it easier to choke off the Hormuz lanes with surge mine warfare. In stage 3 of GT-10, the Iranian Pasdaran speedboats set out mines in the straights, at the same time that AQ terror-bombed port facilities at Jeddah that serves the cities of Mecca and Medina in the Red Sea. At the same the same time in GT 10, the British MCM/FF engaged the AQ boats off Jeddah. The unit took one mine hit, retreated to join the French CV strike group. Inside the Hormuz off Dhubai, the US CVN responded with helicopter minesweeping. The Iranians launched an F-4 to intercept the SH-60 helicopters. The CVN set on it a combat air patrol (CAP) which destroyed the Iranian fighter squadron.

Thus begins active combat in Operation Scimitar, outside of US operations in Iraq.

US and Iranian Deployments

The US Iraq “surge” rotation served as useful strategic deception to bring the required 7 Army divisions (3rd and 4th ID, two National Guard divisions, 82nd AB, 101 Airmobile, 1st Cav) and one division equivalent (173rd Airborne and 2nd and 3rd Armored Cavalry) into Iraq. These are divided into 2 armies, 3rd and 5th, and four corps (3rd, 5th under 3rd Amry in the north around Baghdad, Tikrit, and 18th and 1st corps operating out of Kuwait/Basra zone). Each corps and army has combat and combat service support units (engineers, supply, air/missile defense, and headquarters). The I Marine Expeditionary Force (4 brigades & 3rd Marine Air Wing) have redeployed from Anbar Province to Kuwait. The I MEF will operate as an army-level detached commanded by theater CentCom army group command. That makes 9 divisions or equivalents in theater. There are 7 army AH-64 battalions, 7 fighter/bomber squadrons, 2 C-130 transport squadrons, 2 Army helicopter transport battalions, three groups of Marine mixed aircraft, one air-to-air refueling wing, and one AWACS/JSTAR wing in the Persian Gulf Theater of Operations.

A Special Operating Forces brigade of 5th SFG (A) and 1/73rd Rangers are in Kuwait. The 10th SFG(A) are holding in the Kurdish north. SEAL Team 1 and a squadron of 1st SFD-Delta are in Dhubai.

Iranian deployments have not significantly changed in composition or location. However, the Armored Army Group of 6 armored divisions, one corps of 5 artillery brigades and one division of air defense units have reordered their direction of gravity, from an east-west advance on Baghdad to a northeast-southwest Axis to split the joint of 3rd and 5th armies. The Special Forces corps backed by two mixed corps of two militia, one armored, one infantry divisions (with support), are covering the Abadan, the oil-rich strategic target of the US operational battle plan.

March 26, 2008, 12:05 PM

Real News, Early pre-Hostile Engagements, Deployment Decisions and Free-Play Rules

The US 82nd Airborne, beginning GT-8, and continuing into the present GT-11, has been pursuing militia units north of Basra. This tactical operation also covers the border with Iran. Today’s “real” news about the US-Iraqi armies cracking down on Madhi army units, and al Sader’s call for a protest-sit-in yesterday and today sort of plays on this move. Just a reminder, an Iranian IRGC special forces corps of 4 brigades are positioned opposite of Basra along the Iranian border in the OPScimitar game play. In GT-10, during the Axis movement stage, an IRGC brigade actually took up an ambush position inside the Iraqi border in one of the swamp operational map hexes.

Since I normally use the German form of game play called “free play,” by which I’m looking for answers and options within the rules, the strategic deception troop/surge rotation under which the US was able to politically “deceive” a way to increase Gulf force troop levels by almost 40% beginning in GT- minus 13 looked sound. That translates into n26 days of “normal” Military sealift-required “heavy” units factored into the pre-start strategic deployment track. The Com-in-chief execute order for war began exactly GT-1. Once I had enough heavy units (non-Stryker armored units, supply, and two National Guard divisions for rear area-counter-insurgent security), flying in air mobile mech forces (2nd ACR, 101st AAD, 82nd AB) was no problem to augment more combat units in Kuwait, or at least enough to begin operations, offensive or defensive. Now, under free play, I had to restructure two sea lift units. The scenario plays better if the two remaining brigades of 1st CD were Strkyer/mech units flown in. The sea lift units were not quite beyond Aden in southern Yemen before hostilities began. Having already loaded up on supply utilizing sea lift requiring 12 game turns to be placed in the Red Sea, the switch from “new” light armor to supply allows a more follow-on supply. Without it, the US could have faced a problem: Beginning hostilities, I plan on using USTRANSCOM airlift to bring some extra Air Expeditionary support bases, followed by mission-briefed air units up to 1 Expeditionary Air Wing of 7 squadrons in two air groups (F-15s, F-16s). An entire AWACS and an entire air-to-air refueling wing were easily introduced to the Gulf by GT-9 “without notice.”

I’ve played the strategic opening phase of GT-11 just now. New rules have free played: Either side can expand supply points to modify the political random die roll. For example, if any poli-random event ends in 9-0, the US loses computer/electronic/satellite warfare supremacy. Adapting 3rd edition rules for EW jamming bonus his has a significant effect on US combat power–deploying reserves, and aircraft and ship interception. For all of my scenarios going back to 2001, c/e/s disruption also affects combat and electronic & defensive countermeasure ratings. Now, for every 10 supply points spent “bet, raised or called” between the Players A and B, a one point ship of die modifiers can be applied. For 100 supply points (a HUGE and crippling sum), Iran can buy an effect 1-0 range for automatically disruption the operational net.

One thing I tried in the 2002-2003 pre-OIF scenario (not to be confused with the 2006-07 post-mortem game analysis), I had tried to introduce Harp-like weather effects. Whether a country-wide sand storm or a strategic -hex size (280 km across) rain storm or tornado, no one can really explain to my satisfaction how weather-modification theory can actually work in an operational level context. I will only be able to guess and go with the old game metrics in free play to determine something useful for the game.

Without going into to great detail, the 2002-03 satellite warfare/ASAT rules were validated by the Chinese ASAT test of Jan. 2007. The opening Axis attacks in stage 1 will most likely involve an attempt to take out one US attack. The ‘02-03 rules will be reviewed and/or revised.

Before I actually proceed with movement and combat in stage 1 of GT-11, I would like to figure out some other geo-political/economic/social/cultural rules for influencing play. Since OPScimitar is now sufficiently large and complex anyway, and must be dismantled and moved within two weeks, it has probably told me and my readers enough about the predictive methods we forecast in late 2007 for a possible war with Iran beginning by April 30th of this year. At this point, as many Gts and study will be done for the opening phases of hostilities until I have to move for personal reasons. Like the 2006-07, the tear-down situation will photoed and filmed for reset up. In the meantime, I shall use the final week or two of this phase I matrix/model game study to figure out the geo-p/e/s/c play. Such things can include: assassinations of foreign leaders, financial, WMD, food, computer, or pathogen attacks.

One thing I should mention is the 4 brigade structure of US Army divisions since the 2003 “real” invasion of Iraq. Partly to study the matter, partly out of laziness, I was reluctant to create cutouts of a 4th brigade for every division at the beginning of the scenario. I might have been accidentally wise. After thinking about it through this 3 month study, I have resolved that the engineer/airdefense/artillery units, but not truck units representing corps support groups, I set upor did deploy during the pre-start and game scenario would have formed the bulk of the “real” converted of the engineer/etc. units into combat units. Since most of these units would have been second-tier level troops in real life, I decided to leave the units in their original formations, but with power modifications. These battalion-sized units have a 3rd edition strength of 1 for defense only purposes. Since all US units have their combat strengths doubled to reflect “network strength” (one of the things affected by “network” loss mentioned above), the “4th” brigades of each division are formed of these support units into a replica of the Combat Command C formations of World War II-era armored divisions. They are not full “double-plus” strengths of battalions. Instead they have combat OFFENSIVE-capable rating of 1. It makes some of computations for offensive attack a little complex, but it should more or less hold. I have yet to consider whether these CC-C units would have 2 for defensive-only purpose. But now at the beginning of hostilities and open combat between the US & Iran, a problem of technical “real worldism” might have resolved itself through game play.

March 27, 2008, Thu., 9:57 PM Game Turn 11-War Begins

In looking at both the strategic (Mediterrenean, IO,–WestPac, SouthWestPac) and operational maps (3rd Edition of the Gulf, Egypt/Israel/Lebanon/Jordan/Syria, Sudan/Hejaz/HOA, & Afghanistan/Pakistan), some conundrums came to light. About to start GT-11, I looked at some of the strategic issues, and saw some insights into geo-political level mentioned in the last entry. The problem concerned the only demi-great power with enough central position, conventional armed power, AND strategic nuclear forces to stymy any American/NATO move into Iran: Russia and the governments under her “near abroad” diplomacy.

To review a little, at the very beginning of the scenario, two Russian-centered armies sat poised on either side of the Caspian Sea, ready to intervene in Iran. Russian reserves stood off the north of the strategic map ready to move from military districts in Russia proper–either south toward the Caucasian/Tajik front, or West into Georgia and Ukraine. This is presumably about 25 divisions total, with army and army front support units, perhaps overestimating the number of 1st and 2nd Class motor rifle, armored, airmobile mechanized and parachute infantry divisions the still “great power” of Eurasia could muster. On the Caspian itself, the Russians had a security service customs ship.

The naval deployments in GT-1 were innocuous enough. A small, Black Sea Russian squadron of an amphibious battalion, and the components of a light CG & MCM units, and one diesel sub ( all subs in Gulf Strike editions represent one single ship, while Surface units comprise 2 or 3 ships measured in some form of power ratings and hit capacity). All told, the Black Sea squadron perhaps is overrepresented by a simulated 6-7 combat ships. To counter this possible “fleet in being,” NATO deployed a DD/MCM unit in the Aegean and maintained a US DesRon, and UK CVH, a UK SSN, and considerable air capability in Sicily and Cyprus. The “middle sea” has become important as NATO has mustered its entire civilian reserve fleet to transport units to Egypt beginning GT-9, as AQ began the active uprising in the Hejaz/Sudan/HOA/Egypt area of the Red Sea, and Hezbollah began moving forward in Lebanon in conjunction with AQ Palestinian units (heretofore undiscovered).

But the real important aspects of the naval side of the operation occurred, as briefed previously, in the WestPac. Recall in Gts-7-9, the Russians surged their entire Pacific fleet, small as it was at an overestimated 20-22 combat ships. Research has rounded this number down to a more likely 13-15 combat ships (listed previously). The move and counter move in the Western Pacific were the result of Chinese moves, and the responses of the ANZAC and Japanese on behalf of the US alliances. But it was the US strategic ballistic missile submarines that made the Russian sortie from Vladivostok around the north of the Kuriles so urgent. In addition, a Russian Surface Action Group (DDG) and patrolling nuclear attack subs were coming upon the SSBNs and SSN goalkeeper of the US, with the 2 Japanese SAGs and CVH task force covering them in the open ocean southeast of the Kyushu. Since the US battle plan for OPScimitar requires a conventional ballistic missile strike using orbital/gravity uranium (or cadmium) rods encasing conventional explosives (a mix of real and scenario capabilities), the US faced a problem. How to play down the Russian fear that an ballistic missile launch from a submerged sub would NOT be an opening attack against Russia?

The Russian armies were originally set up as a presumed potential assistance to Iran–a Russian intervention against the NATO take over of southwestern Iran, the location of Iran’s major oil reserves. Integrating geopolitical history, the “grand strategy” level of the game logic appeared with some possibilities. First, Russia’s main internal enemy is Islamic radicalism. Second, Russia’s main threat to its sovereign control over its most vulnerable territories lies in the east, the maritime provinces, not western Russia, the most heavily populated area. Third, Russia since its modern era as a great state began under Peter the Great has focused in most cases on one foreign policy: To obtain a warm water port.

So here is the game solution: A “Ribbentrop/Molotov” type pact of steel between America and Russia. The US is allowed to proceed with its invasion and disabling of Iran’s nuclear facilities, and Russia doesn’t intervene. In exchange for the guarantee that it will not object to the SSBN launch by a counter-force nuclear launch on warning, Russia stays out. Since 80% of Iran’s military is deployed along the border with Iraq, and its coastlines in and outside the Persian Gulf (it anticipated in GT-1 that Russia “had its back”), Russia is guaranteed the occupation from a line running east from Tehran due south to the port of Hormuz (it also gets Qom). Even more, they enter AFTER the war as peacekeepers with UN authority, at least at this point in the game forecast. The advantage further goes to Russia by another “Hitler/Stalin” deal: NATO removes itself from Georgia and Azerbaijan, Russia can prosecute its Chechen war without censure, “by any means necessary,” and the US and Russia “neutralize” Ukraine, not allowing it into NATO, but Russia not meddling in its affairs either. In exchange, the US gets its best “friend” against both the Islamists and the Chinese Axis.

How does this solve the other issue of China? Well, as the beginning of GT-11 is showing, China is overreaching itself by placing a “fleet in being” in the IO. That will be examined in a later game briefing.

Tonight I’ve played Action & Reaction Stage One of Game Turn 11–Full-scale war between NATO and the Islamist. The naval and air stages were quite surprising, to be discussed later. I have yet to do ground assault resolution one. Stay tuned for more details later. There is full scale activity in the Gulf, Red Sea and Afghan Areas of Operations. Only the Levant is quiet on the operational maps. Game metrics have been worked out a little.

March 28, 2008, Thu., 4:39 AM

Two hours ago, BBC announced that something on the order of, paraphrased of course that: US and Russian diplomats expressed satisfaction on their current strategic dialog, although the Russian side expressed concern over the US missile defense system.

This does not necessarily prove the likelihood or feasibility of a US/Russian “condominium” concerning the Persian Gulf, but it would be necessary at this point, according to our game model. By the way, lining up with the news items we’ve covered in this running blog since January about a possible war with Iran, the Project 6 forecasted date set last fall is, more or less, on a time-line trajectory accurate with “real world” news since late Dec. that we have predicted (increased use of air strikes in Iraq’s Anbar province, turmoil and/or AQ-suspected action in Kenya, Somalia and Sudan, the call up of the Marine Expeditionary Unit for service in the Indian Ocean Area, the recent Basra offensive, etc.). This DOES NOT mean that our model is going to become reality, i.e. that there will be a war in Iran, but the ongoing news is fitting into the model as at least some validation of our process.

The last four days, I have been reading a book called “Space Wars: A Wargaming Scenario.” It is a fictional 2010 account based on a reputedly real-world MSG called DEADSATS. The scenario/plot looks at how wargaming by US STRATCOM helps explain a future attack against space intelligence/communications/navigation systems attack. The book itself is so, so written, and not Clancy. But neither is it a poorly conceived look at such an attack in the future, or the uses of wargames. In short, a combination of Latin American narco-terrorists have hired Russian scientist on behalf of Iran to take down several US commercial, military and mixed usage satellites for their separate interests. The Russian renegade scientists have developed a microwave laser “maser” to passively burn out several vital US satellites, and have based their arrays in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

As mentioned in the Project 6 literature, the game was modified several years ago to incorporate ASAT passive/active warfare. The combination of cursory game study on the matter, and real world Project 6 research ties an interesting piece together that the Project staff (all two of us, me the gamer, and Wizard the reviewer/researcher) could not quite figure out in Jan. Last fall, Wizard suggested that Chinese activity in Tibet of the l ast couple of years might have had a strategic purpose beyond merely resettling Han ethnic Chinese in the high mountains of Tibet. The Chinese had been building a “strategic” rail/road/communications corridor into Tibet from the lower land. Wizard theorized around October 2007 that such a high elevation would be a perfect solid land platform for space operations. The high elevation and the thin air would conceivably reduce the cost of payload lift into orbit around the earth.

In Jan., Google Earth research by Wizard discovered some suspicious buildings in Lhasa. While we are not photo intelligence experts, my opinion was that the structure, located by a strong flowing river (it looked to me), appeared to be an energy production facility. Wizard’s opinion, more experienced than I, said it looked like some sort of barracks, and a large barracks complex capable of holding a few thousand military or police/paramilitary personnel. While I remain skeptical, since I noticed or recognized no surrounding parade grounds, the recent uprising and government crackdown in Tibet more reinforces Wizard’s opinion. Regardless, the other, earlier part of Wizard’s theory looks even more plausible rom reading “Space Wars.”

Tibet, even as a ground to orbit space platform, also makes ideal height and atmospheric conditions for a laser or maser arrays for passively “burning” satellites. In addition, from the current OPScimitar game, Tibet’s conventional space platform possibilities also make it ideal elevation, atmosphere, AND latitude (on par with Dushanbe in the book “Space Wars”) for active anti-satellite missiles. To note, 14 months ago, China successfully tested an ASAT weapon against one of their derelict “weather” satellites with a ground launch missile, and several weeks ago the US reaffirmed its ASAT ability with a ship-launched ASAT missile.

As will be explained, anti-missile capabilities, comparable to anti-satellite capabilities, played a role in OPScimitar earlier this evening in GT-11.

April 26, 2008, Noon

Project 6 completed the Operation Scimitar model simulation game First play on April 5th. Here are the final journal notes. However, Project 6 might re-set the OpScimitar scenario at GT-10, and continue free play with some revised situations (for example, more coalition economy of force).

May 5, 2008, 12:16 AM, Operation Scimitar Study–Ending Results, First Run.

In GT-10, the Iranians opened hostilities at sea. The Iranian navy set out mines off the Straights of Hormuz, not actually in the waterway. The strategy chosen was to surreptitiously do so as to constrain the SLOCs into the Persian Gulf, protect their ostensible diesel sub and commerce raiding craft (speedboats and disguised smaller armed merchantmen) in a secure base on the Arabian sea outside the Gulf. The Iranian naval-marine task force at Socatra and AQ naval militia also set mines in the Gulf of Aden, with the same unwise strategy of starting from the outside in. Once the attempt was made, Coalition naval forces launched a full-scale attack in the reaction segment and attacked enemy naval and naval militia units at sea and in Guerrilla-Terrorist bases on Socatra and Somalia. Unfortunately for the Iranians & AQ, most of their ships were port-side rearming with more mines. By the end of GT-11, all significant Iranian navy units in the Indian Ocean Theater were destroyed or neutralized. AQ units in the HOA and operating from Jeddah did, on the other hand, succeed in conducting effective mine and suicide boat operations in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea. The Iranian diesel-electric submarines operating in the IO littoral areas were quickly dispensed. The only major successes the Iranians achieved at sea was arming merchantmen with Silkworm/Exocet missiles. They actually scored two “hits” on the US Carrier Strike Group in the Arabian Gulf with such subterfuge, severely limiting Carrier Air Wing contributions to the campaign. An estimated 2 escorts for the CSG were sunk/disabled.

In GT–11, the Iranians/AQ scored a significant achievement by a successful network attack on the US C4ISR, cutting by 20% US ratings for air-to-ground and surface-to-surface missile and bombardments. The US SSBNs in off the Pacific Coast of Japan each launched four Sea Launched Ballistic Missiles specially fit with Depleted Uranium/Titanium piles which effectively destroyed less than half of their intended targets of “nuclear bunkers”due to the network attack, which presumably would affect satellite and/or Command and Control Targeting of the SSBNs (such conventional missile capabilities were instituted by the USN in 2006). The SSBNs participated from the PACCOM because missile trajectories from there would reassure the Russians that the missiles were undeniably heading for the Persian Gulf. If SSBNs launched from the Indian Ocean toward

the north, would the Russians think it was an attack on them? The US/Russian condominium on the war, whereby Russian/CIS forces get to enter Iran as peacekeepers, thus obtaining their centuries old desires for warm water ports on the Hormuz and the Arabian sea, made possible the withdrawal of the Russian Pacific Fleet from anti-submarine operations off the Kurile Islands and guided missile submarine patrols off of Guam.

In GT-11, a US MEU -SOC in OV-22 conducted operational maneuver from the sea to an area where the 1980 Desert One fiasco had taken place. The MEU set up an isolated base and conducted raids on the remaining nuclear bunkers. SOF stationing out of the UAE used the Desert Two base as an air refueling way station in their own raids on nuclear bunkers. Disastrously as I am as a “strategist,” Desert Two was reinforced in Gts 12 & 13 by the 101 AAD, thinking it would be a good diversion to the I MEF operations through Basra and the the triphibious assault on Busher. Desert Two should have been abandoned in the next game turn once all significant nuclear bunker targets had been wiped out. It was a great drain on logistics and combat power to keep the base functioning, protected and self-defending by GT-13 and Iran had cornered in on the base deep in their rear.

Whereas the 82nd airborne had redeployed in GT-9 and 10 from their offensive in Basra against Shi’a militia (which anticipated real-time news by three weeks), the I MEF launched their offensive with 82nd AB dropping on the north flank in GT-13.

In GT-11, the Iranian armored army group launched their offensive out of the safety of the mountains, which would have protected them from coalition airpower, and moved toward Baghdad. US 5th Corps (3rd, 4th ID, 3 ACR) gave space for time, allowed US airpower to pummel the armored columns, and then in GT-13 & 14 proceeded to launch their counter-strike on the north shoulder of 18th Corps (now without 101st AAS) composed of 1st CD (whose two Stryker Brigade Combat Teams flew on GT-11), 82nd ABD, and 2nd ACR in their drive into north Abadan supporting I MEF moving through Basra. In the Basra area, the Iranian SOF division of IRGC put up stiff resistance and used the swamp-infested terrain to much advanatage. Only when outflanked by Marine units assaulting from Busher coast and 5th corps from the north forced the IRGC to retreat before cut off.

GT-15 essentially saw the coalition victorious in the ten days of war and the game was discontinued. Full game analysis of the potential and possible aspects of a real life “Operation Scimitar” scenario will follow shortly. Overall, the US ability to mask the deployments to the Gulf under a “rotation replacement,” the airtransportable nature of both armored cavalry and Stryker brigades (only two belonging to 1st CD), and the strong presence of a UK/France commitment HOA/Red Sea AO proved most decisive. Chinese naval forces never intervened because with shift if Russian allegiance and a surge by the Japanese, ANZUS navy in the Pacific forced the Chinese naval task force (2 SSNs, 1 frigate and 1DDG squadrons) to withdraw east of their new base in Sri Lanka. The Indian Navy operating to the west of the subcontintent also proved helpful as a deterrent to Chinese meddling in Iran. However, the complete key to the game’s political scenario was securing Russian connivance in the war against Iran.

July 17, 2008

[Below is a response to a friend concerning an article in Stratfor from July 15th, by George Friedman].

First, about strategic reserve: There is no reason to shift focus to another part of the globe. As far as a 'global positioning' strategy per our NOWAR outline, the Persian Gulf IS the decisive theater for the entire model--Iraq relating to China, and Iran, according to our research, to split Russia from the SCO, etc. It is not a stretch to use the Smart Base where we already are in the IO Area to continue to wage a 'maritime' strategy against all enemies, including AQ/ and the Taliban in Central Asia/Subcontinent. Therefore, the article does not hold water on the need to counter a threat elsewhere. Concerning NE Asia, the only other conceivable challenge, things are just as hamstrung for China over Mongolia/Siberia/Maritime Provinces vis-a-vis Russia as they are over North Korea's probable collapse vis-a-vis Japan and S. Korea. Furthermore, such a conflict would be naval, which Japan can assist us with, as well as Taiwan if China makes trouble there.

Finally, about the rotations of the last surge brigades out of I Theater of Ops., freispiel in OpScimitar led me to the conclusion that A) the amount of ground combat units to handle the occupation of the Abaddan area in Iran opposite Basra would be 2 brigades of Marines, an airmobile or airborne division of 3 or 4 brigades, the equivalent of an armored corps of 4 brigades and an Armored Cavalry Regiment, and two corps support units. That is 11 Combat brigade equivalents and 2 support brigade equivalents by some amateur analysis, admittedly. There should still be 15 combat brigades in Iraq indefinitely even with surge units rotating out. All but the four heavy/armor brigades needed, except Stryker components in Light armored configurations, could be easily airlifted into Iraq. NO ONE PAYS attention to three things: OpScimitar said Iraq's army would have to be capable of performing Counter-GT ops at the level of 4 division equivalents, meaning the GT insurgency would have to be held in hand. It is. Second, no pays attention to how much equipment is left behind the surge forces coming home. If it stays, it is available. THAT WAS a key component of the strategic deception to make the scenario possible. Finally, news pays attention to the number of troops---not stockpiles of equipment, combat ships in transit, and supply dumps, which are all the easiet things to hide from the media/public scrutiny.


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