SOS implements new wargame

  • Published
  • By Billy Blankenship
  • 42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Air University instituted a new wargame into Squadron Officer School curriculum during the March 2024 class 24C session.

Called OPLAN ORANGE, the Southwest Pacific focused environment includes multi-phase, real-world challenges in the South China Sea, with proactive and reactive agile combat employment implementation, including the practice of mission command.

“OPLAN ORANGE is centered around state-on-state conflict between global competitors in a regional conflict,” said Col. Kevin Lee, SOS’s commandant. “The injects, timing, and requirements all focus on gameplay that will make U.S. and allied forces think through difficult choices that prioritize successful competition on the global stage.”

The learning challenge was developed by SOS faculty in cooperation with the LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education and the Air Force Wargaming Institute. OPLAN ORANGE replaced a 16-year-old legacy wargame, JADWAR, and more closely aligns with the emphasis of Great Power Competition.

“Creating OPLAN Orange has been an adventure.,” said Maj. Adam Carswell, an academic program manager at SOS who is credited as a major contributor to creating the game. “We had to mix serious educational and military goals with fun, so students buy into it. It took a lot of brainstorming and teamwork to make sure the game was educational, functional, engaging, and at the appropriate decision-making level we expect captains to be at. Creating something from scratch that hits all of those marks was challenging but rewarding.”

The modern wargame uses an existing Air Command and Staff College scenario implemented in their Kingfish ACE learning tool, but scaled to best implement with the SOS seminar schedule.

“This game is an order of magnitude more efficient at developing the globally informed and logistically minded warfighters we will need in the 21st century,” Lee said. “Strangely, OPLAN ORANGE modernizes the learning environment by taking a step back from technology.  OPLAN ORANGE is played on a basic set of cards with limited materials.  The focus of the game is understanding the modernization of the Air and Space Forces and the operational environment rather than the medium in which it is played.  This allows the educational experience, and the student experience, to move away strictly from a classroom to anywhere the student needs the experience.  While tied to a computer for injects and some visual elements, OPLAN ORANGE can be played at any time, allowing us to add stress to the situation for a diverse level of thought and ideas to develop.”

OPLAN ORANGE entered initial operational capability during the March class with full operational capability assumed during April’s 24D grouping.