Uncertainty is inevitable in war. Teaching and developing Marines to be critical thinkers prepares them to make informed, timely decisions. A traditional professional military education course slide shows the audience the ideas and concepts involved. However, adopting a more engaging and interactive teaching method can help the audience retain those developed skills. One such method is already in operation in war gaming.

From April 25-29, 2022, Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 introduced this type of development to its E-5 and below personnel.

War games and simulations have been around for a while, but their use in the military has increased in recent years. They are used by commanders, combat-oriented schools, and advanced level courses. War games provide an opportunity to teach commanders and senior leaders to think critically and devise the most effective and efficient plans, making them an important tool for day-to-day decision-making. This level of skill development is an important ability to support and develop strength. To see how competitors would respond to learning with a less traditional form of professional military education, the company arranged for teams to compete against their peers in brackets and began playing war games.

“I am enjoying the game, especially since it has realistic scenarios. You’re thinking ahead, planning what your next course of action is and meeting your teammates in the middle.” Cpl. Christine Ordinario, MWSS-171 combat engineer

“With changes in commander’s planning guidance, what better way to create more critical thinkers than to put them in a controlled environment in a scenario-based war-game in the Indo-Pacific region where they can learn about capabilities, support requirements and consequences of decisions,” said Maj. Milton Rehben, executive officer of Marine Aircraft Group 12, MWSS-171.

The game, Fleet Marine Force Indo-Pacific, pits two teams of three against each other, with various scenarios; The goals and challenges are different. They must complete their objective within a fixed number of turns. It encourages players to not only plan their actions, but also interact with their teammates to complete missions.

“In the game, players take turns leading their troops to achieve their assigned objectives,” Sgt. Cody Maynard, chief of data with MWSS-171, explained. Maynard was tasked with controlling the game and challenging units under MAG-12. “The game allows Marines to think outside the box and puts them in a constantly evolving situation that requires them to establish new strategies.”

The military conducts similar war games around the world, however, they are primarily for commanders, officers, and staff noncommissioned officers, preparing them to lead combat forces. Introducing the game to the younger generation of recruits increases readiness and effectiveness for the future of the Army.

Although the game is new to MWSS-171, the Marines have taken an interest in the game and developed their skills.

“I’m enjoying the game, especially since it has realistic scenarios,” said Cpl. Christine Ordinario, combat engineer with MWSS-171. “You’re thinking ahead, planning what your next move is going to be, and meeting your teammates in the middle.”

Introducing immersive and engaging learning methods can allow employees to retain the skills they learn and apply them to everyday tasks. As Marine Corps policies push toward modernization, Marine instruction and development also benefit not only the Marine Corps, but also those who serve.