Games People Play

January 13, 2022by Rajeev Hora0

Games People Play by Horax (Casper)

(A bit of jest from an archival war-chest)

I remember my two-year stint with the Army with an extreme amount of nostalgia. Apart from the many superlative friendships struck for a lifetime, what has fondly stayed with me are the unforgettable memories of the numerous War Games I attended with my army colleagues.

These War Games are formally termed as SAT, an acronym for ‘Systematic  Approach to Training’. For the uninitiated, these are essentially paper exercises with rather serious planning sessions and briefings to test out existing procedures and new concepts. Incidentally, a good performance during the SAT is supposed to add brownie points towards your escalation in the snakes and ladder games and not towards your American visa.

The Army Cdrs during my tenure will vouch how I initially struggled in understanding the concept of pivot and other intricacies of ground warfare. And then wonder of wonders! I chanced upon this very useful booklet in my mess room: SAIL YOUR WAY THROUGH A SAT: HANDBOOK FOR DUMMIES.

I will just list out a few pearls of wisdom and advice from this valued document which changed my life forever. So here goes:

  • Start with the weather, orbat, force levels, resource deployment and general area description to test the limits of patience of the Commander before getting into the multiple courses of action for Induction, Infiltration or Infusion of forces.
  • Orchestrate your array of forces, shape the battlefield, hide your vulnerability and secure your flanks, preserve your combat potential, maintain your balance and never lose your intensity or sense of humour. Do not (R) do not ever agree to a reduction in your Weight of Offensive. Remember, the Corp Cdr is always looking for unemployed forces to justify the Cdr’s directives on ‘Theaterisation’!
  • Create a basic formulation and composite picture of the battlefield in all its manifestations in spite of a total lack of ISR from the Air Force.
  • Create a Decision dilemma or an Overall criticality for the adversary so that your defensive balance is retained whereas he is not able to manoeuvre, regenerate, reconstitute or resurge.
  • Take a course in body-language to be able to identify the Commander’s favourite course of action. In Air Force parlance, they call it ‘wind-socking’. It definitely helps if you have done a stint with him earlier in some formation.
  • There was a time when Posture, Overture, Disposition, Application, Investment and ‘Relieve the pressure’ meant something else. Today, they have a different meaning altogether in the military context.
  • Do not wonder as to why are we always a Brigade minus, and a Company plus and who slipped in that additional armour complement no one can account for. Remember, mental maths is a sure shot remedy for preventing Alzheimer in old-age.
  • Don’t be satisfied with Containment, Delicate balance or Parity as that reflects lack of offensive spirit.
  • Never ever use the words Setback, Breach, Defeat, Losses and Reversals except for the opposing Redland.
  • You have only three minutes to speak, so don’t waste time in bemoaning your attritions and consolidation of residual combat power. For you, it should be big and impressive stuff like Evict, Degrade, Destroy, Capture and Assault. Learn the appropriate words from the Armoured Corp. They have used them for centuries.
  • Over a period of time, favourite buzz words that have developed are Hinterland, Hybrid, Construct, Narrative, Theaterisation, Wily-Nily and Collusivity. Don’t get carried away with Collusivity which must go beyond pinching together some candies from the MG’s side table in front! And of course use the favourite ‘neutralize’ with impunity which could be used for anything ranging from using a tactical nuclear device to tickling him to death with a rusted knife! Rusted, you ask? Well, the poor guy will die of tetanus, if nothing else!
  • Take ‘Command and Control’ issues and a ‘Favourable Air Situation’ for granted. Also add 5-10 Km to the range of all Arty guns and 20m to the length of each bridging equipment. The MG Arty and Chief Engineer will smile but I promise, will not contest you.
  • Throw in a sprinkling of Synergy and Joint-man-ship so that the air force blokes don’t feel left out after four days and are not deterred from coming for the next SAT. As for the Navy, they are as it is happy that you are ‘sailing’ through something.
  • A stint at MO helps because then you can use RRR, NCW and Operational art without the fear of being cross-questioned.
  • Termination should always be with a cold glass of beer, sorry….. an end state resulting in ‘Bloody nose’ for the adversary, if not, at least a ‘Humiliating defeat’, and he should not even get a whiff of a ‘Notion of victory’.
  • Two final tips, One: make friends with the control judges well in advance. I can tell you with certainty: It helps! And Second: Never raise contentious or debatable issues just before the tea or lunch break when hypoglycaemia is almost setting in for the entire crowd. If you do so, later on in life, you will realize that it was the curse of the masses which prevented you from becoming a three star General!
  • Lastly, for God’s sake, don’t take the SAT proceedings too much to heart. A lot many people accomplished much more on the battlefield with bravery, pragmatism and innovation, although they were never heard during the SAT.
  • And parting words- ‘If you can’t be right, at least be wrong at the top of your voice! A couple of grace marks for confidence will probably do some good to your reputation in the environment.

Blissfuly ever in combat,

Horax (Casper)

Post script: Finally discovered that the Pivots actually refer to the glass-resting elbows in the bar after a hectic War game where everyone is an undisputed winner. Cheers to our Olive Greens!


First published at on 13/01/22

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