“Senior Leaders Wargame Insights into the U.S. – North Korea Nuclear Standoff,” is the title of a paper by Dr. Deon Canyon, Jonathan Cham and Jim Potenza for Security Nexus. This article details how DKI APCSS employs wargames in courses to tackle the most complex and difficult regional challenges, and provides statistical results from a recent course.

In dealing with complex security issues and imperfect information, decision-makers frequently rely on mental models that limit their capacity to make fully rational decisions. Wargames can provide an innovative option for challenging assumptions based on past experience, exposing unassessed risk, and gaining insight into future events. This paper reports on five high-level wargames on the United States – North Korea nuclear standoff. Player actions, reflections, feedback, and anonymous surveys indicate that the games provided ample opportunity to understand different viewpoints, explore non-worst-case options, think about the unexpected, and expose the implications of subtle interactions.

Dr. Canyon is a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. Jonathan Cham is a former intern at DKI APCSS, and is now employed by RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA. Jim Potenza is the former Intern Coordinator at DKI APCSS and is currently employed at the East-West Center, Honolulu. The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government.

Security Nexus is a peer-reviewed, online journal published by the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies.