Military exercise

A military exercise or war game is the employment of military resources in training for military operations, either exploring the effects of warfare or testing strategies without actual combat. This also serves the purpose of ensuring the combat readiness of garrisoned or deployable forces prior to deployment from a home base. War games involving two or more countries allows for better coordination between militaries, observation of enemy's tactics, and is a visible show of strength for the participating countries.[1]

Exercises in the 20th and 21st centuries have often been identified by a unique codename, such as Cobra Gold, in the same manner as military contingency operations and combat operations like Operation Phantom Fury.

Peruvian Infantry Cruz de Hueso 2008
Peruvian Army military exercise
Valiant Shield - US Kitty Hawk kicks off operations
USS Kitty Hawk kicks off Exercise Valiant Shield, the largest war games of the US Navy since the Vietnam War.


Soldiers from the Royal Artillery inside the FST Simulation tent, which uses 360 degree technology to assist in training during Exercise Steel Sabre. MOD 45158564
Soldiers from Britain's Royal Artillery train in a virtual world, 2015
Military exercise in Ystad, Sweden, 2015

Field exercise

The more typically thought of exercise is the field exercise, or the full-scale rehearsal of military maneuvers as practice for warfare. Historical names for field exercises in the military services of the British Commonwealth include "schemes," while those of the military services United States are known as Field Training Exercises (FTX), or, in the case of naval forces, Fleet Exercises (FLEETEX). In a field exercise or fleet exercise, the two sides in the simulated battle are typically called "red" (simulating the enemy forces) and "blue", to avoid naming a particular adversary.[2] This naming convention originates with the inventors of the table-top war-game (the "Kriegsspiel"), the Prussians von Reiswitz; their army wore Prussian blue, so friendly forces were depicted by the color blue.

Command Post Exercise

A Command Post Exercise (CPX) typically focuses on the battle readiness of staffs such as a particular Unified Combatant Command or one of its components at any level. It may run in parallel with an FTX or its equivalent, or as a stand-alone event for headquarters staff only with heavy emphasis on simulated events.


Other types of exercise include the TEWT (Tactical Exercise Without Troops), also known as a sand table, map or cloth model exercise. This type of exercise (in recent years assisted by computer simulation) allows commanders to manipulate models through possible scenarios in military planning. This is also called warfare simulation, or in some instances a virtual battlefield and in the past has been described as "wargames." Such examples of modern military wargames include DARWARS, a serious game developed since 2003 by the US DARPA agency with BBN Technologies, a defense contractor which was involved in the development of packet switching, used for ARPANET, and which developed the first computer modem in 1963.
A subset of simulated exercises is the Table Top Exercise (TTX), typically limited to senior personnel stepping through the decision-making processes they would employ in a crisis, a contingency, or general warfare.

Joint exercise

Several different armed forces of the same nation training together are described as having a joint exercise, while those involving forces of multiple nations are described as having a combined exercise.
These latter events incorporating multiple nations have often been referred to as NATO exercises, Coalition exercises, Bilateral exercises (based on security arrangements/agreements solely between two nations), Multilateral exercises (based on security arrangements/agreements between multiple nations), or other similarly named events.
NATO exercises in Nurenberg, Germany January 1986 (1) - photo by Nancy Wong
NATO exercise codenamed A Certain Sentinel, in Nuremberg, Germany January 1986.


USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) and HMS Illustrious (R 06) in the Persian Gulf on April 9, 1998
US Navy aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis and Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious carrying out military exercises
Kaiserparade 1909 Karlsruhe
German pre-war military exercise Herbstmanöver in southern Germany autumn 1909 (Emperor Wilhelm II second on the left)
Warsteed 1987
US Army Europe soldiers on winter maneuvers in Germany during Operation Warsteed 87, in 1987.

The modern use of military exercises grew out of the military need to study warfare and to 'reenact' old battles for learning purposes. During the age of Kabinettskriege (Cabinet wars), Frederick the Great, King of Prussia from 1740 to 1786, "put together his armies as a well-oiled clockwork mechanism whose components were robot-like warriors. No individual initiative was allowed to Frederick's soldiers; their only role was to cooperate in the creation of walls of projectiles through synchronized firepower." [3]

This was in the pursuit of a more effective army, and such practices made it easier to look at war from a top-down perspective. Disciplined troops should respond predictably, allowing study to be confined to maneuvers and command.

German Bundeswehr in a house.JPEG
German Army soldiers during exercise Joint Resolve 26 in Bosnia.

The stunning Prussian victory over the Second French Empire in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) is sometimes partly credited to the training of Prussian officers with the game Kriegspiel, which was invented around 1811 and gained popularity with many officers in the Prussian army. These first wargames were played with dice which represented "friction", or the intrusion of less than ideal circumstances during a real war (including morale, meteorology, the fog of war, etc.).

21st century militaries still use wargames to simulate future wars and model their reaction. According to Manuel de Landa, after World War II the Command, Control and Communications (C3) was transferred from the military staff to the RAND Corporation, the first think tank.

Von Neumann was employed by the RAND Corporation, and his game theory was used in wargames to model nuclear dissuasion during the Cold War. Thus, the US nuclear strategy was defined using wargames, "SAM" representing the US and "IVAN" the Soviet Union.

Early game theory included only zero-sum games, which means that when one player won, the other automatically lost. The Prisoner's dilemma, which models the situation of two prisoners in which each one is given the choice to betray or not the other, gave three alternatives to the game:

  • Neither prisoners betrays the other, and both are given short-term sentences
  • One prisoner betrays the other, and is freed, while the other gets a long sentence
  • Both prisoners betray each other, and both are given mid-sized sentences

This modelization gave the basis for the massive retaliation nuclear doctrine. The zero-sum fallacy and cooperative games would be theorized only later, while the evolution of nuclear technology and missiles made the massive retaliation nuclear strategy obsolete.[4]

Military wargaming was progressively improved, although according to Manuel de Landa it still suffers from a systemic bias on conflict against cooperative behavior. Dice, which were a rational way to represent chaos, were replaced by the Prussians by artillery range tables, and then by evaluation of each weapon's lethality.

See also


  1. ^ "Why Russia and China's joint military exercises should worry the West". The Economist. Retrieved 2018-09-13.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-11-17. Retrieved 2015-11-15.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Manuel de Landa, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, p.127, Swerve Editions, New York, 1991
  4. ^ Concerning the use of military wargames, see Manuel de Landa, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines

External links

2006 anti-NATO protests in Feodosia

Anti-NATO protests (including one riot) took place in the Ukrainian port city of Feodosia from late May to early June 2006, partially disrupting a joint Ukrainian-U.S. military exercise, which was canceled 20 July 2006.

2012 US-Israel military exercise

The 2012 US-Israel military defense drill, codenamed Austere Challenge 12, was a military exercise between the United States, Israeli military, Germany and U.K., that took place in late October 2012.

The joint exercises were expected to test Israeli and American air defense systems, particularly Israel's ballistic missile defense against incoming missiles and rockets. A EUCOM commander would be responsible for approving Israeli requests to deploy US missile defense systems in Israel.Senior American and Israeli defense officials discussed the possibility of postponing the exercise to late 2012. On January 13, 2012, it was postponed to October. Capt. John Ross, spokesman for the United States European Command, said "It is not unusual for such exercises to be postponed, and leaders of both sides believe that the best participation of all units will be best achieved later in the year." Israeli military officials said the U.S government requested to delay the drill so as "not to heighten tensions" with Iran. Security officials have also said the decision was partially related to budgetary concerns. A day prior to the cancellation, senior IAF officers said the drill was scheduled for Spring. The exercise is also expected to be the first time the EUCOM commander James Stavridis will participate in a multilateral drill with Israel.Israel's foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said "diplomatic and regional reasons, the tensions and instability" were factors in delaying the exercise. Mark Regev, the spokesman for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel and the United States made the decision to delay the exercise "because it was not the right time.”Although a report in August alleged that the number of troops involved was being reduced from 5,000 to about 1,000, in order to reduce the perception that the exercise was a cover for an attack on Iran, it was later reported that the size of the drill and the number of troops participating had not changed. Brigadier General Nitzan Nuriel, said that the matter was one "of logistics," and that the number of troops had hardly changed.


BALTOPS (Baltic Operations) is an annual military exercise, held and sponsored by the Commander, United States Naval Forces Europe, since 1971, in the Baltic Sea and the regions surrounding it.

The purpose of BALTOPS is to train gunnery, replenishment at sea, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), radar tracking & interception, mine countermeasures, seamanship, search and rescue, maritime interdiction operations and scenarios dealing with potential real world crises and maritime security.

Champ de Mars, Montreal

Champ de Mars is a public park in Old Montreal quarter of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Formerly a military parade ground, the park had previously been the site of Montreal's fortifications, which were demolished at the beginning of the 19th century soon after Montreal City Hall and the old courthouse were built. It had served as a municipal parking lot until being restored as a park in 1980s. At that time, the foundations of Montreal's city walls were discovered and restored.

The site's name commemorates its former military purpose; Mars was the Roman god of war and campus Martius was a Latin term for a military exercise ground. The walls now standing on site were built to show the location of the original walls used to protect the city.The area is bordered by the Montreal City Hall, the old and new courthouses and the Champ-de-Mars Metro station.

Cobra Gold

Cobra Gold is an Asia-Pacific military exercise held in Thailand every year. It is the largest Asia-Pacific military exercise held each year, and is among the largest multinational military exercise in which the United States participates.

Exercise (disambiguation)

Exercise is a disciplined activity that is meant to improve and maintain fitness, health and wellness.

Exercise may also refer to:

Mental exercise, activity for mental fitness

Military exercise, a military training activity

Exercise (mathematics), training unit in mathematics

Exercise (options), a financial or contracting term

Exercises (album), by Nazareth

Exercise Joint Warrior

Exercise Joint Warrior is a major bi-annual multi-national military exercise which takes place in the United Kingdom, predominately in north west Scotland. It is the successor of the Neptune Warrior exercises and Joint Maritime Course.

Joint Warrior is organised by the UK Ministry of Defence and is Europe's largest military exercise and can involve up to 13,000 military personnel, from all three British armed forces, NATO and other allied countries. Up to 50 naval vessels, 75 aircraft and numerous ground-based units participate in a typical exercise. Operations include airborne assaults, amphibious landings and training in counter-insurgency, counter-piracy and interstate war. Live-fire exercises take place on various weapons ranges. Joint Warrior exercises take place in the spring and autumn and have a duration of two weeks.

The exercise aims to provide a multi-threat training environment where participants take part in collective training in preparation for deployment as a Combined Joint Task Force. Joint Warrior also provides a package of training to each participating unit which concentrates on its specialist role, but set within a larger war scenario.

Exercise Purple Warrior

Exercise Purple Warrior was a British military exercise conducted in south west Scotland in November, 1987.This exercise was designed to test lessons learned during the Falklands War.

Most troops involved in this exercise left from Colchester by road to embark onto a small flotilla at Harwich docks and from there to the western coast of Scotland by beached landings. The Port Stanley situation was exercised from RAF West Freugh. HMS Illustrious was involved in the operation with 845 and 846 NAS embarked. 1 and 43 squadrons from the RAF were also involved as part of "Blue force" (i.e., the invaders) seeking to capture West Freugh from "Orange force" (i.e., the defenders).

Exercise Talisman Saber

Exercise Talisman Saber (also spelled Talisman Sabre, the spelling alternating between US and Australia) is a biennial joint Australia-United States military exercise. Talisman Saber involves joint exercises performed by the Australian Defence Force and the United States Military across six locations in northern and central Australia, the Coral Sea, and in Honolulu, Denver, and Suffolk, Va., though the bulk of the exercises are concentrated at the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area and other locations in northern and central Australia and Australia's territorial sea and exclusive economic zone.To reflect its bilateral nature, leadership of the exercise switches between Australia and the US every 2 years; primary leadership is reflected in the varied spelling of Saber/Sabre. The exercise focuses on crisis-action planning and contingency response, enhancing both nations’ military capabilities to deal with regional contingencies and the War on Terrorism. Seven exercises have been held in the years 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017.

Exercise Tiger (1942)

The 1942 Exercise Tiger was the code name for an Army-level military exercise held by British Commonwealth forces in the United Kingdom during the Second World War.

In April 1941, when Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery became commander of South-Eastern Command in the United Kingdom, he conducted the largest military exercise to date in the United Kingdom, Exercise Tiger, in May 1942, a combined forces operation involving 100,000 troops. Troops participating in Tiger noted that it was particularly gruelling for the infantry involved, who marched over 100 miles during the course of the exercises.

Exercise Zapad-81

Exercise Zapad-81 (Russian: Запад-81, lit. 'West-81') was the largest military exercise ever to be carried out by the Soviet Union, according to NATO and US sources. It was conducted from September 4, 1981 and lasted approximately 8 days. It was a joint operation including elements from all Soviet service branches and introduced several new "complexes" such as the RSD-10 medium-range strategic missile (known often to the West as the SS-20 Saber) and the "Kiev" Project 1143 aircraft carrier.

Hoot (torpedo)

The Hoot (Persian: حوت‎; Whale) is an Iranian supercavitation torpedo claimed to travel at approximately 360 km/h (220 mph), several times faster than a conventional torpedo. It was claimed to have been successfully test-fired from a surface ship against a dummy submarine during the Iranian military exercise "Great Prophet" (پيامبر اعظم(ص) on 2 April 2006 and 3 April 2006. Iran test-fired the torpedo within its territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz in May 2017.The official Iranian news agency IRNA claims the torpedo was produced and developed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (سپاه پاسداران انقلاب اسلامی). Most military and industry analysts have concluded that the Hoot is reverse engineered from the Russian VA-111 Shkval supercavitation torpedo which travels at the same speed.

If Day

If Day (French: "Si un jour", "If one day") was a simulated Nazi German invasion and occupation of the Canadian city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and surrounding areas on 19 February 1942, during the Second World War. It was organized by the Greater Winnipeg Victory Loan organization, which was led by prominent Winnipeg businessman J. D. Perrin. The event was the largest military exercise in Winnipeg to that point.If Day included a staged firefight between Canadian troops and volunteers dressed as German soldiers, the internment of prominent politicians, the imposition of Nazi rule, and a parade. The event was a fundraiser for the war effort: over $3 million was collected in Winnipeg on that day. Organizers believed that the fear induced by the event would help increase fundraising objectives. It was the subject of a 2006 documentary, and was included in Guy Maddin's film My Winnipeg.

Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theories

The Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theories were based on the Jade Helm 15 United States military training exercise which took place in multiple U.S. states in the summer of 2015, starting on July 15 and ending on September 15. The announcements of these training exercises raised concerns and led to speculative interpretations that were characterized by The New York Times as "travers[ing] the outer edges of political paranoia".

Loaded march

A loaded march is a relatively fast march over distance carrying a load. It is both a common military exercise and a civilian activity.

A loaded march is known as a forced foot march in the US Army. Less formally, it is a ruck march in the Canadian Armed Forces and the US Army, a tab in British Army slang, a yomp in Royal Marines slang, and stomping in Australian Army slang.

As a civilian exercise, loaded marching comes under the category of 'hiking', although this includes activities not vigorous enough to be compared to loaded marching. Civilian activities analogous to loaded marches are quite popular in New Zealand, where they are organised by "tramping clubs".

In many countries, the ability to complete loaded marches is a core military skill, especially for infantry and special forces. Loaded marching is particularly important in Britain, where all soldiers must complete annual loaded march tests.

In certain climates, the use of loaded marches is limited, since they would result in high casualty rates through heat exhaustion.

Operation Brasstacks

Operation Brasstacks was a codename of a major military exercise of the Indian Army in Rajasthan state of India, that took place in 1986 until its execution in 1987.As part of a series of exercises to simulate the operational capabilities of the Indian armed forces, it was the major and largest troop mobilizations of Indian forces in the Indian subcontinent. Operation Brasstacks was tasked with two objectives: the initial goal was the deployment of ground troops. The other objective was to conduct a series of amphibious assault exercises Indian Navy near to the Pakistan naval base. Operation Brasstacks involved numbers of infantry, mechanized, air assault divisions, and 600,000 army personnel who were massed to within 100 miles of Pakistan. An amphibious assault group formed from Indian naval forces was planned and deployed near to the Korangi Creek of Karachi Division of Pakistan. However, the most important aim of these war alert simulations was to determine tactical nuclear strategy, overseen by the Indian Army.The military strategists of the Pakistan Military regarded this war game as a threatening exhibition of overwhelming conventional force, and the most critical moment in foreign relations between India and Pakistan. The Pakistan military strategists even viewed this war game as reprisal of nuclear war. The security information website Global characterized Operation Brasstacks "bigger than any NATO exercise – and the biggest since World War II". Even as today, the Pakistan military analysts and strategists regarded this as "blitzkrieg-like" integrated deep offensive strategy to infiltrate in dense areas of Pakistan, but on the other hand, India maintained that "core objective of Operation Brasstacks was to test new concepts of mechanization, mobility, and air support devised by Indian army."

Team Spirit

Team Spirit was a joint military training exercise of United States Forces Korea and the Military of South Korea held between 1976 and 1993. The exercise was also scheduled from 1994 to 1996 but cancelled during this time period as part of diplomatic efforts to encourage the Government of North Korea to disable the North Korean nuclear weapons program. The North Korea regime abandoned talks following the January 1986 Team Spirit exercises, and in late 1992, North Korea unilaterally withdrew from the South-North High-Level Talks due to the 1993 Team Spirit exercise.

Until 2007 the exercise had been called "Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration of Forces" (RSOI). As of March 2008, it is called Key Resolve. North Korea has denounced the joint military exercise as a "war game aimed at a northward invasion."

Ulchi-Freedom Guardian

Ulchi-Freedom Guardian (을지 프리덤 가디언, Eulji peulideom gadieon) is the name (as of 2015) of the military exercise previously known as Ulchi-Focus Lens, a combined military exercise between South Korea and the United States. The exercise is the world's largest computerized command and control implementation, involving 50,000 South Korean troops alongside 17,500 U.S. troops in 2017, and mainly focuses on defending South Korea from a North Korean attack. The exercise was initiated in 1976 and is conducted annually during August or September. The word 'Ulchi' comes from the name of a famous Korean general called Eulji Mundeok, who was the Commander-In-Chief of the army of Goguryeo.

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