The wargaming community uses the miniature and tabletop space as a means of entertainment, a hobby to pass the time and build lasting friendships. However, there’s still the understanding that wargaming isn’t just about casual competition, and its practical application on a military level is still relevant. In fact, a recent war game exercise took the hypothetical battle to Taiwan, five years from now, in the wake of a Chinese invasion.
The April exercise unfolded at NBC News’ Washington bureau and spanned a relatively short five hours. Cautioned by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) organized the game to determine what would happen if China launched a full-scale invasion of Taiwan. The results painted a grim outcome that would potentially span the Indo-Pacific and possibly even bring the conflict to the continental United States and the outlying Hawaiian Islands.
“The war game demonstrated how quickly the conflict may escalate, with China and the United States crossing red lines,” CNAS experts explained. As the game played on, it became increasingly clear that China’s use of nuclear weapons is entirely possible. Unfortunately, the game didn’t find any possible route to a quick and easy resolution once China made its move. Former Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy instead proposed that the war game displayed only one quick outcome – if the United States and Taiwan started to act now.
“If you haven’t spent years preparing for this,” Flournoy stated, “then you’re going to be behind the eight ball the whole way.” Per the war game’s results, the best way to do that is for both the U.S. and Taiwan to start “pre-positioning munitions, getting the Taiwanese ready, pre-positioning [their] armed forces, developing [their] disbursal bases.”
It’s worth remembering that the war game and most wargaming are purely speculative, but the data pulled from the engagement is potentially actionable and an indicator of potential scenarios and outcomes of military engagements. Though China hasn’t invaded Taiwan, the war game was built on the growing tensions between China and Taiwan and the inspiration to move brought on by the Russia/Ukraine conflict.