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15 October 2014


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Isn't this outcome similar to what Biden was advocating ten years ago? Iraq carved into Shia, Kurd and Sunni mini-states.

The main difference is that the Sunni area was expanded up the Euphrates to the Turkish border. And regime balkanization was not as tidy as Biden had hoped. Presumably a reliable partner remains to be forged in Sunni Iraq, though Turkey will largely manage that dossier for the time being, in return for solemnly swearing fealty to NATO. "Democracy promotion" will presumably be resumed in the Damascus-Aleppo corridor and in the northwest, though ownership of the dossier would continue to be contested among Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, providing Assad still more time.

Other questions remain:
Did Tripoli, Qalamoun, and other ISIS areas of Lebanon declare independence? Did much of the Houran fall under tacit Israeli administration?

The Twisted Genius

TTG dons a set of ballroom pants and picks up his AKMS. SWMBO is none too pleased. DOL


Thank you for the game and your participation. It broadened my thinking. The result I find quite realistic.

A critic and self-critic: This game - and it's results - may be a bit short in geographic scope of the battle against IS (and Al Qaeda), particularly regarding the regions AfPak, Yemen, Libya.

Some real world news headlines regarding these areas I stumbled across while editing my website, some of them quite fresh:

The Hill 19/8/14: Al Qaeda in Yemen declares support for ISIS


WINEP 10/10/14: The Islamic State's First Colony in Libya


Malta Today 15/10/14: Islamic State to launch Sat-TV station in Libya – Herald


Dawn 14/10/14: Six top TTP commanders announce allegiance to Islamic State's Baghdadi


Ishmael Zechariah.

Col. Lang,

Thanks for the game. I could not contribute to the last step since I the situation in Turkey is very fluid. Anything: coups, high level assassinations, ethnic cleansing, revolts, or the continuance of the status quo for a year or more is possible. I would expect an end to the current regime in a few years since the regional balance have changed, and their bid to remove Assad has failed.

The PKK is on the way to being a spent force; they have proven their irrelevancy and, with separatist Kurds getting only 7% of the vote, they have no chance of pushing any real agenda. They can still create a lot of grief since they have a deep rear and were/are supported by the West, but the idea of a "Great Kurdistan" is over; if Iran were to cooperate with the USA, they would demand, and probably get, the cessation of support for PJAK.

Since the possibility of opening a Kurdish corridor to the Mediterranean is also over, the KAR leaders, whoever they might be, have to come to an accommodation with Turkey. This may result in KAR becoming a de-facto Turkish hydrocarbonn vilayet. Some folks have been trying to prevent this but, if the scenario above comes to pass, they will have failed, at least for a few years.

IMO if Ebola takes off as predicted, the USA will have a hard time keeping it out as long as her present policies are not fundamentally revised.

If, in a future game you wish to assign regions to teams, I would volunteer to help with Turkey and hope that Kunuri would also contribute.

Thanks again.

Ishmael Zechariah.


All very interesting. In a future game there will be a Turkish team. Thank you for volunteering. pl



In every such game that I have participated in there has always been a difficulty in extending the play to enough geopolitical entities. The usual solution is to have the control group (TC in this case) assume the role of "all others." pl


IMHO, six TTP commanders announcing allegiance to IS means very little. There has been some serious internal strife that has wrecked TTP. The core support for TTP and reason for its effectiveness was organic bottom up support from Mehsud tribe, which also provided almost all the leadership until now. When Fazallullah became TTP head, Mehsuds didn't take well to losing leadership to someone from different tribe and area. Fazallullah is yousufzai from swat which is not even a tribal area and there is quite a bit of inte- tribal and inter-regional animosity. Mehsud leader Sajna decided to part ways and reconcile with Pakistani establishment.Then another serious group known as punjabi taliban decided to do the same. All this while Pakistan army had started operation in North Waziristan.Almost everyone was expecting some real blow back in urban areas from that operation but nothing of note happened(bar some attacks on military bases with little loss) and it seems like denial of sanctuary in Northern Waziristan has really crippled TTP. Almost all of their leadership is in Afghanistan. This whole allegiance thing sounds more like a plea of help from external forces than anything else.


Col. thanks. The whole process was very interesting.


Thank you Colonel for a very interesting endeavor.

Sometime after 4 July 2015, a "Crow-Eat Crow" thread would be very interesting where the committee members can review their own predictions and compare them to the then existing reality.


This was entertaining and eye-opening. I may be cured of off-the-cuff predictions. Thank you TC for an interesting learning experience.



My critique (self). It is easy to become too focused on tactical issues and details such equipment capabilities while missing the importance of time, distance and the human factor; especially trying to understand (and predict) the actions amongst multiple countries and actors in these regions. The importance of religion as a motivating factor in human behavior - which is something pointed out repeatedly in this forum; needs to be understood clearly before trying to predict any party's actions - especially IS.

Another take away is the clear need for experienced professionals skilled in a number of backgrounds to provide input to decision makers. An open mind and not a rigged adherence to an ideology is also needed, which should be obvious given the real world results from our disastrous decade in the region. It was also allot of fun. They pay you for doing this? I missed an opportunity with my latest career choice; any chance of making a mid-carreer change?


Apparently, I read the results rather differently from the way that you did. As I read it, 'nation states' are dissolving. For instance, KAR and the Caliphate are not nation-states as we traditionally think of them. (The Caliphate seems more an 'idea' or social movement than a nation-state; nevertheless, it functions to create identity and generate intense loyalty.)

In addition, there is an unacknowledged coordination between US and Iran. I don't recall Biden ever admitting to such a thing, and I assume it would be politically poisonous for him to publicly admit such an alliance.
There are new alignments, but still a lot of uncertainty. Perhaps I misread...?


TC request for clarification:
Your scenario at this state does assume that the Whitehouse continues to pursue regime change as a policy goal, in conflict with DoD pragmatic actions against ISIS?


Count me in IZ.


IZ and Kunuri

I will make you two the Turkish team for a future game. At some point may I send you each others' e-mail addresses? pl



Yes. This was one point at which reality intruded on the game. It was tempting to create a policy change toward Syria in the WH but at this point I see no sign of it. pl



The Caliphate is a nascent theocratic state but not a nation. It does not aspire to be a nation. The KAR is a nascent nation state but has not yet achieved its goal. pl


I ditto Fred's comments. I certainly got educated by those of you who have deep ME experience. Going back to my Desert Storm time (at Martin Marietta), I can see the game would be enhanced by having a "Chuck Horner/David Deptula" team to plan an air campaign and an official 'SOCOM' head (TC control in this case) to help make the tactical plan whole.



I did war gaming at the two staff colleges I attended plus the Army War College at Carlisle, PA. that was when the war college was a professional school rather than a half baked grad school. I ran similar war games as analytic tools throughout my government career and have done so as a participant for various contractor companies in retirement. IMO such games are useful tools for clarifying thinking and understanding the consequences of events. pl

Ishmael Zechariah

Col. Lang,

This is fine with me.

Ishmael Zechariah


Dear Colonel, I found the game very informative, particularly, where my forecast was shown by (TC Control) events to be inaccurate; requiring a re-assessment of assumptions. Unfortunately too many things in the real world interfered with the last round.

In general, the rate of unfolding in the game seems to have been far slower than in the real world over even the last week. For example, all the widely stated CDC/WH presumptions about "knowing how to track, control, and isolate ebola" have been shown by the virus incorrect. This occurred within one week, rather than months in game world. Was the slower game world pace to discourage forecasting "dramatic change," which is inherently unpredictable - such as:

A sick health worker infects 150 people on an airplane who disperse around the country infecting tens of thousands and ultimately a reduction of US population in half?



War gaming seems like a possible economic endeavor. My guess is that there would be many attendee-participants at "Colonel Lang's Weekend War College for SST Aficionados" at some hotel in historic Alexandria as an annual convocation of the members of this Committee of Correspondence.



If I remember correctly you are a research scientist. You are correct in assuming that I held back from very dramatic change for the reason you stated. I don't know how to overcome that. pl



Larry Johnson says there has to be a way to make money out of this. I will be open to such ideas. pl



We will see what Kunuri says. pl

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