The Navy hosted its annual global war game in Newport, Rhode Island, from 14 to 25 August 2000. I was privileged to serve as one of the legal advisors to those playing the various roles in the National Command Authority (NCA) cell. It was a thrill to observe so many brilliant operational minds—active duty, reserve, retired, and civilian—confront serious issues of national security and resolve them skillfully. Some of these players, however, and many of the others I encountered in other wargaming cells, were hampered by a collective misunderstanding of international law in certain important respects. In several instances, had they not labored under so many misconceptions, they would not have felt nearly so restrained in making certain decisions.
Acts of War
During the game, many senior leaders devoted an undue amount of time to "acts of war," debating whether some action taken by the adversary or some action we proposed should or would be viewed as an act of war. Those discussions generally were misguided.