- Date published:
10:27 pm, August 27th, 2010 - 24 comments
Categories: afghanistan, defence, International, military, politicans, war - Tags: afghanistan, medal of honour, red team, taliban, United States, wayne mapp
Defence Minister Wayne Mapp must be desperate for publicity. He’s attacked the latest version of Medal of Honour, a first person shooter game. The game is set in Afghanistan and features American commandos fighting the Taliban. According to Mr Mapp, Medal of Honour “undermines the values of our nation, and the dedicated service of our men and women in uniform”.
Mr Mapp is outraged because gamers can choose to play as the Taliban, “the terrorists”. But what’s the problem? Many armies, including New Zealand’s, use the same concept in training exercises and wargaming – it’s known variously as “opposing force” (OPFOR), “enemy force” or “red team activities”. To make training and wargaming as realistic as possible, someone has to be the enemy – to think and act like the bad guys.
A classic example of OPFOR occurred during the Millennium Challenge exercise in 2002. This was a massive US wargame, and a dry run for the Iraq invasion. The Blue force (aka the USA) took on the Red force, an unnamed Middle East adversary resembling both Iraq and Iran, led by former US Marine Corps general Paul Van Riper.
Red force launched a pre-emptive strike. Using surprise, old fashioned operational methods, and cheap technology (patrol boats and cruise missiles), Van Riper’s force wiped out the Blue fleet. At this point, the exercise was halted, the Blue ships were re-floated, and the rules changed to allow the Blue force to win.
Back to Mr Mapp. You might argue that he’s scored an own goal, gifting publicity to EA, the maker of Medal of Honour, and boosting sales. But I wonder if anyone actually listens to what Wayne has to say.