My love of useless graphs and a desire to do some practice with Excel led to me creating this simple chart on the fake exercise punching bag-I mean nations.
(For information on the OPFORs in question, see my posts on the subject at Baloogan Campaign. )
Now for the “data” (quotations deliberate). This is based on wild guesses and gut feelings, is oversimplified, and only deals in “conventional” threats. Quibbles include.
- Whether there was too small a leap from the non-state opponents to the state ones.
- How to group the Basic Forces and Heavy OPFOR, as they’re both benchmarking the same force. I gave the latter a slightly higher score, as it takes the first step to Mobile Forces organization.
- How much greater the “Mobile Forces” are at the top from their closest rivals.
I did not include any “Hybrid” opponents, nor did I include any historical comparisons. These are purely in relation to each other.
It’s time for another Good Fiction Spotlight, in light of all the “Bad Fiction Spotlights” I’ve done. This Good Fiction Spotlight goes to James McDonough’s The Defense of Hill 781.
The book is intended as a late Cold War version of the classic Defence of Duffer’s Drift and is styled as such. The action is evenhanded, detailed, and possibly a little over-detailed. But here’s what sets it apart. Instead of trying to move away from its inherent artificiality, it embraces it completely.
There are very good reasons for this in the proper context-it’s meant to be educational and show the equivalent of a “battle” in the National Training Center in detail-this isn’t attempting to illustrate a full World War III or any other story in any other sense. It’s not like I think McDonough made a deliberate stylistic choice to focus the story entirely on a completely artificial engagement. It was just the nature of a Duffer’s Drift-style tale.
However inadvertedly, the book nonetheless is the closest in-print work to the kind of artificial OPFOR thriller I talked about wanting to see-making no pretentions about being anything more than what it is, and having a sense of humor that stands out in an otherwise serious genre.
Now, as my writings on both here and Baloogan Campaign have shown, I have a fondness for the “OPFORs”, the representations of the enemy from the Circle Trigons to the present.
This painting is of Krasnovian soldiers and is definitely not one of OPFOR soldiers in Fort Irwin.
Now, part of it is for their historical worth. It’s interesting to see training in history, interesting to see how accurately the doctrine of the enemy being simulated was portrayed, and interesting to see how it compares to the paper doctrine of the “Blue Force” trainees.
But another part of it is, ironically enough, in literary terms. Because of the very “fake” quality of the concept. The exercises themselves of course were not meant to win Nobel Prizes in literature. The OPFOR states were meant only as an openly artificial foe in an artificial fight.
Note the statement “openly”. Having slogged through an Augean stable of bad 198X World War III fiction, I can say that seeing something that’s just openly, plausibly, unconcernedly, an artificial creation feels refreshing in its honesty. Given how many bad works of fiction both prop up the Soviets (or other opponent) as a similarly artificial pop-up target in practice and are treated by their fans as something otherwise, there’s a part of me that just wants to see:
“A Krasnovian Tank Army is approaching. Are you a bad enough dude to stop the Krasnovians?” Cue the Abrams/T-80 slugfest.
Plus I think it adds a bit of humor, a knowing wink. And the genre badly needs works that lighten up a bit.
I like Esperanto, even if it’s just a mishmash of European languages.
I don’t know enough about linguistics to make an exact comparison, but it sounds like a Romance language, vocabulary wise, similar to Italian and French. Like the Circle Trigon Aggressors who spoke it, the language has an air of both artificiality and creativity to it.
(Circle Trigon Aggressors had a unique insignia system, however, theirs was, especially in the 1945-1960s period, acheived solely by repurposing existing US ones. High ranking Aggressor insignia involved a mix of major’s leaves and cavalry branch sword insignias.)
I posted on Baloogan Campaign well before I started my own blog, and still regularly post there.
Yesterday I made a new post there. The Broken Staff-The (In)Effectiveness of Militia,
Here’s an example of the same unit in Command simulating two different opponents. This is a kind of follow-up to a post of mine on Baloogan Campaign dealing with exercise scenarios. An aggressor squadron of F-16s, unnamed but based on the 18th Aggressor Squadron, is deployed.
All of the F-16s are the same unit, but have vastly different loadouts. The top six are there to simulate a “light OPFOR”, and are armed solely with short-range missiles. Now, it is worth noting that an ace-proficiency F-16 equipped with high-off boresight missiles is going to be a tougher opponent than say, a scrounged-up MiG-21, but the point of the exercise scenario is to provide a worst-case opponent, while still keeping said opponent in the same general category as the potential foe.
The bottom six are primarily armed with long-range AIM-120 AMRAAMs. Their goal is to simulate a “heavy OPFOR” equipped with more modern, higher-end equipment. They’re still there to provide the greatest possible challenge to the player’s side, and would likely be paired with different aircraft types to simulate even more capable fighters in a truly gigantic scenario.
For an exercise scenario, the same “actor” can play multiple types of “character”.