A Retrospective Look at Some Strategy and Force Evaluation Games

by Thomas A. Brown, Edwin W. Paxson

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Documents the history of SAFE (Strategy and Force Evaluation), a two-sided manual force posture planning game played at RAND six times in 1962, and compares the ten-year U.S. and USSR postures generated with those that actually occurred. SAFE was played for orientation purposes, not forecasting. SAFE included no role-playing and no attempt to simulate bureaucratic games or lag times, but only to develop the rational strategic consequences of given policies, budgets, and (limited) intelligence information. Where results diverged from future reality, the reasons were primarily (1) unforeseen policy changes, (2) unforeseen technological developments, (3) too limited a menu of choices, and (4) unrealistically speedy deactivations and developments, ignoring both normal lags and secondary missions for aging systems. Suggestions for an improved, semiautomated strategic planning game are given. A SAFE bibliography is appended.

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