Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Call of Duty: Counterinsurgency? How 'Bout Them Metrics?

I was watching a friend of mine play the realistic video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and as he piloted an AC-130 gunship providing air support to his team of retreating commandos he also enjoyed shooting his various weapons at additional random buildings to see if they would blow up. I joked that if this were really modern warfare he would lose points, since he had just created hundreds of additional insurgents.
Which brings us to General McChrystal's statement that success in Afghanistan is judged not by insurgents killed but by the number of people protected. Could you duplicate that in a video game (Modern Warfare 2, due this November?)? Would it be any fun?
And more importantly, will McChrystal's upcoming review actually contain the long-awaited metrics? All signs point to McChrystal being given 12-18 months to show progress. We know the metrics we're using in the absence of better ones (troops killed, insurgents killed, civilians killed, number of bombs, etc) will go down this winter due to the weather. Hopefully McChrystal will have something better in place by then both in terms of a strategy and a way to measure success.

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