John Hulsman details the simluated War Games session that he will be running at RiskMinds Insurance 2015.

John HulsmanIt has been called the most daunting home field advantage in the world. And indeed, when the Iron Gate slides back, the tourists wonder who you are, the marines salute as you go past, and you walk into the Roosevelt room (where World War II was run), it is hard to remember to breathe, let alone say anything useful. You are then told to stand as either the President/Vice President/National Security Adviser walks into the room. Once the pleasantries are over (and they are polite but brief) someone turns to you and says, ‘John, what should we do about….?’ Our political risk game is a chance to go through the looking glass with me, as someone who has experience in the very odd world of working in Washington at the highest level.

Playing the game is simple. I will provide each person a policy brief in your conference folder, laying out what has been going on in the global war against Islamic State (ISIS) over the past six months. You will be allotted to one of six teams: The US, ISIS, Iran, The Shia dominated Iraqi government, The Sunnis in Iraq, and the Kurds. This factual briefing is the script for the game; all the players have to do is formulate ideas and opinions based on these up-to-date facts; the briefing gives the game a real world feel often lacking in such exercises, and makes the event as current as is humanly possible. The brief itself is modelled on the literally hundreds of such outlines I have written both for others and myself in the rough and tumble world of Washington. It will take the players--as it’s only 2-3 pages long—approximately 10 minutes to get through and functions as we play as a useful crib sheet, just as in real life.

Play will begin with me explaining how the mechanics of the game function over the hour, and with me providing a crisp, Washington-style briefing bringing everyone up to speed with where the war against ISIS has been going. Then I will ask the American and ISIS teams each one, simple binary question to be determined by events, and we are off to the races. Frankly, from my decades-long experience in DC, nothing was ever so intellectually challenging, useful, or just plain fun as playing war games for senior agencies in the American government. I have no doubt that you will feel the same way.

The following articles will help provide a more detailed background for the war games we will be playing at RiskMinds Insurance:

Islamic State’s dominance must be halted – the West needs to act now

The West’s critical analytical flaw that spawned 80 years of Mid East failure

Bombing IS in Syria was always going to fail – and Washington knew it all along

Obama’s got it right: Why it’s in the West’s interest to help the Kurds out


Register for RiskMinds Insurance 2015 and take part in the simulated war games.