The Haderach militants were in a tight spot. They were dispersed throughout towns in southern Caprica and were under assault by the powerful Caprican military.
The Haderach leaders, who were based out of neighboring city of Kobol, ordered the militant cells to maintain pressure on the Caprican government and safeguard the towns that sympathized with the rebels. They deployed their large stockpile of unguided rockets to tie up Caprican air defenses and launched medium-range Ababil and Mohajer drones to identify vulnerable targets within Caprican cities, followed by guided rockets.
Having made their move, the members of the Haderach team sat back in the stark classroom at the National Defense University, and waited to hear the results from the game officials.
The Caprican-Haderach contest was not in fact taking place in a distant land or on one of Frank Herbert’s planets in Dune, as the names of the actors might suggest. It was one scenario in a two-day war game organized by the Center for a New American Security, a national security think tank in Washington, DC.
The “Game of Drones” was designed to explore the different ways that drones could be used for tactical and strategic effect in a conflict.
The summit sought to address whether shooting down a drone might escalate tensions between countries or whether drones changed the character of a conflict by giving actors capabilities they didn’t have before. As more and more state and non-state actors acquire drones, the war game illustrated how drones could be used in creative ways to further political or military objectives.
“One of the things that we see with new technologies like drones, is that the marginal utility for that platform is much higher for weaker actors than strong actors,” Ben Fitzgerald, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and one of the organizers of the war game, said afterward. “For non-state actors, they get much more value in relative terms, because all of sudden they have airpower.”