Iran Uses Online War Games To Teach Younger Generation of Officers

Inside the headquarters of Iran Cyber Defense Command.

Inside the headquarters of Iran Cyber Defense Command.

“We have designed… the war game process in the software space.”

Iran’s annual war games often make headlines, whether for their deliberate provocations of the United States, debuting new hardware, or accidents such as the friendly fire incident in May 2020, which killed 19 Iranian sailors. The excerpted article from the Iranian defense ministry’s official news outlet, Holy Defense News Agency, discusses efforts to make war games more widespread and accessible by conducting studies of enemy tactics online.  A willingness to conduct online war games likely also reflects the comfort of a younger generation of Iranian soldiers with computers.  While Iran might be diplomatically isolated, the internet has nevertheless permeated the country.  Many younger officers grew up in an age when computers, the internet, and gaming were widespread.  Perhaps in recognition of this fact, five years ago, the Iranian Army released a video game called “Battle in the Gulf of Aden 2” (see: “Iran: Army Unveils Video Game,” OE Watch, September 2017).

Making online war games part of the military curriculum is the logical next step.  Iranian military culture already encourages autonomy at the O-4, O-5, and O-6 levels, at least relative to the cultures of neighboring states.  Online war games can contribute to more realistic and strategic thinking by allowing mid-level commanders to design tactics and strategies that take into account different configurations of enemy numbers and equipment.  That said, as in the West, such games are hostage to the quality of the inputs.  While tabletop war games replete with hot washes between rounds enable militaries to identify unknowns, software-based war games do not provide such opportunities and may therefore contribute to the ossification of false assumptions.


“Tarsim-e ‘Bazi Jang’ dar Feza-ye Narmafzari” (Creating Wargame Software),” Holy Defense News Agency, 2 March 2022.

Hossein Valivand-Zamani, commander of the Iranian Army Command and Staff College, on the sidelines of the 31st Defense Management Training Course and the 7th Joint and Combined Operations Course of the Army Command and Staff College, told reporters: “We recruit a large number of middle-ranking officers from the armed forces of the country and friendly and allied countries to pursue a master’s degree in defense management.” He added, “We also recruit each year a number of officers for the doctorate of war program.”

The commander of the Army Command and Staff College continued. “We have basic grounding in tactics, and we also war game, as all armies in the world do, as part of training in order to deal with threats.”

General Valivand continued, “The principle of the war game is calculated based on the number of forces, the amount of equipment, tools and capacities of the enemy and the enemy forces, and then, the war game is played for possible movements of the enemy….”

The commander of the Army War College added, “Today, based on the principles of war gaming, in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Davos Room, we have designed and programmed the war game process in the software space, which students use to increase their knowledge….”

Image Information:

Image: Inside the headquarters of Iran Cyber Defense Command
Source: Azad News Agency