Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Even by me, but yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the end of ground operations during Desert Storm -- an anniversary little mentioned in the media. One suspects that the ongoing morass that ensued after we did go on to Baghdad has something to do with that.
That said, it is hard to imagine that 20 years have gone by. As it turned out, I missed Round 1 of the Iraq contests because my National Guard unit was not called up for duty -- there being plenty of regular troops available in that immediate post-Cold War world to easily handle the contingency. In contrast I ended up being called out tothe IRR to serve in Round 2 because the military was so short of field grade officers that someone like me was needed! What a difference a decade makes.
The First Iraq War was notable for the quick response of wargame companies to the unfolding situation. Strategy & Tactics rushed out Arabian Nightmare before the fighting even commenced, while even stodgy old Avalon Hill updated its Gulf Strike (under the Victory Games brand) with exampsions that covered the unfolding situation. I remember at the time testing out the situation using both games soliatire -- and each, while using very different systems, made it clear that the only question was WHEN, not IF, Iraq was going to be ejected from Kuwait. Other games, such as Omega Games Desert Victory, made it clear on the tactical level that the Iraqis were out of their depth. As it turned out, no game was able to capture the full extent of the impending Iraqi rout, largely because it was off the charts and anything that reflected the reality would have been deemed "unrealistic."
Even the post-war Desert Storm published in Command Magazine (cover above) had to have special "Historical" rules to reflect the actual event while presenting as a standard game a more credible Iraqi opponent. It didn't help. While a perfectly good wargame, Desert Storm wasn't too popular.
There were a few games published before Round Two as well, notably Back to Iraq (Thre editions in Command and S&T) and Millennium Wars: Iraq and at least one right after the fighting (Iraqi Freedom in Armchair General) but none of them dealt with anything past the intiial fighting. This, of course, turned out to be a major oversight because the period AFTER the conventional phase turned out to be the critical one. It's too bad that on one thought to ask those questions at the time because it might have provided a cautionary tale when it was really needed.