Miller, Neeb, Lee and Fullinwider, in their SUBMARINE REVIEW article, “The Battle for Polaris Survival,” describe a wargame conducted to assess the survivability of POLARIS. In 1961, the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff (JSTPS) questioned the survivability factor of 1.0 attributed to the POLARIS system. Three blue force POLARIS missile submarines were opposed by a formidable red force of nine surface a<:t:! (If! &roups (SAGs) , 1, 000 trawlers, 50 BADGER aircraft, 40 diesel submarines and nine SSNs. In the game the three SSBNs had to transit undetected to their launch points while opposing forces attempted to detect end maintain contact until launch time. To win, the three POLARIS submarines had to launch all of their missiles before the opposing forces attacked and destroyed them.
It is our contention that this question could have been better and mor·e llf·•rf!uasively investigated with some simple analysis. When POLARIS “won” by achieving a survivability of 1.0 (36 Missiles launched), the general officer convening the game proclaimed the results inconclusive.
Considering some of the extraordinary circumstances of play, it is small wonder. For instance, the authors describe how it was necessary at one point for 12 missiles, each with a 25% probability c;f failure, to be launched successfully. Dice and probability tables were used, and there were no failures. The probability of that occurring is 0.032. Other approaches might have been taken, and in view of the criticality of POLARIS, should have been. We will outline one.
We tried out a simple uodel and conducted an analysis that would have provided the JSTPS with the advantages of clear cut cause-and-effect relationships, increased flexibility, and variance of parameters to test the sensitivity of results — with an answer provided in a shorter amount of time.
Our analysis was performed using the identical forces, strategic setting and tactical characteristics that were described in the SUBMARINE REVIEW’s article. The analysis assumed, as did Jerry Miller’s wargaDJe, that all events occurred in the Norwegian Sea. Because it was not clear from his article whether the surface forces were in active or passive search, two cases ~ere investigated and probability of survival of the SSBN was calculated for each case.
The first used a passive area search model with the searcher’s sweep width reduced, to account for counterdetection and evasion by the SSBN. SAG and trawler detection ranges were 10,000 and 2,000 yards respectively.
In the second case, labeled the “ping and listen” scenario, an active sonar capability was given to the SAGa and trawlers. Both utilized an intermitt.ent active search at tactically advantageous intervals. If an SSBN was wi tl•j n detection range (10,000 or 2,000 yards), the SSBN was detected.
In both cases red submarine force detection range was a function of SSBN speed and is represented in the graph in figure 1.
Specifically, the SSBN was much detectable at higher speeds. So, if it speeded up to evade red surface searchers it became more vulnerable to red submarines. In all cases the overall survival probability of of POLARIS was virtually 1.0.
In the case of a Soviet BADGER being within the distance to abort a missile launch by the SSBN, since detection is considered to be virtually certain, the relevant question becomes “how soon can an armed BADGE~ get to the launching submarine?”
It seemed that compared to the war game described in the SUBMARINE REVIEW, our analysis was more straightforward, unambiguous, and compelling. By varying the POLARIS op area and the assumed capabilities of the searchers, absurdly pessimistic (long range) detection capabilities could be tried and the POLARIS fiur·vhability still be shown to be very high. Warsaming is too time consuming to permit many variations and with a fixed scenario does not allow this freedom. We also varied the time to Ehour (missile launch tiuJe) and SSBN speed.
In one case, model results showed that the SSBN would not be detected by the trawlers and was vulnerable to SAG detection if it’s at very slow ‘-speeds. Additionally, we were able to see how fast the probability of SSBN survjval decreased, as the tire to E-hour increased.
For the “Ping and Listen” scenario, results in~icated overall lower probabilities of SSBN survival than the passive model. As before, we were able to see how much more susceptible the SSBN was to Red Force detection &8 time to E-hour increased.
The versatility or flexibility of our approach showed up again wld J e analyzing the question of how long it would take an armed BADGER to attack a launching submarine. Analysis showed that the expected number of missiles launched by an SSBN before the nearest BADGER could get there was 15 — all but one missile. This was ivuependent of tile. aircraft’s ability to localize ~rtd conduct an attack with sou1e unnamed weapon -probably a nuclear depth bomb.
The second advantage to our analysis was the short time involved. The SUBMARINE REVIEW article stated that it took six weeks to play the game and derive the results. Our three man team, on the other hand, took one week for research, model generation, and analysis. In six weeks the wargame undertook one case. In 1/6th the time every question thought to be inter·esting was explored in our analysis.
Our findings could have been expanded by incorporating other variables, as specified by the JSTPS staff into the analysis. It is clear that we could supply more quality infornation to the decision-maker to answer the question of survivability of POLARIS. The ability to vary rararueters, time involved and flexibility all illustrate this point.
This is not an argument against all war gaming. Sometimes human decision-making ~o dominates the analysis that players (of the r·ight professional background} are mandatory. It js &h!ays wise, given the tiu•e, to check anall’sis “‘·ith several games. t-!or·eover, tt’le ar·t of cco.ming has progressed since the 1960’s.
Still. the game described in the SUBMARINE REVIEW shows that in striving for “realism” and the ~human element” you can create more doubt than conviction. more confusion than clarity. and more astonishment thc•n confidence.
LT Benjamin F. Breux
LT Joseph A. Horn, Jr.
LT Robert L. Foster, Jr.