This past week I had the opportunity to read some document created by the military, and I was stunned by how wordy and unclear they were. The documents proclaimed themselves to be simplified texts, and further claimed that they would demonstrate how command processes are the result of clear, repeatable systems.
Systems are my stock in trade, so I read hoping to find some interesting parallels between military design systems and game design systems. But sadly, there were no systems laid out in the document at all. After all of the acronyms, disclaimers, diagrams, and examples were dispensed with, there was no substance to the document at all.
Naturally, I was disappointed.
But after further digestion time, I realize that there is a reason that the military documents were all jargon and no substance. Military decisions generally boil down to a few common-sense judgement calls, and sometimes a blind guess or two. Operations are divided up into such small components that nobody really has anything like a prisoner's dilemma going on. So the people making these command decisions, for the most part, don't really need to apply anything more complex than their own good judgement.
Game systems, on the other hand, are a realm in which our intuition frequently fails us. The game mechanics may seem lifelike, but they don't respond the way reality does, and so we need to be very careful when examining our expectations.
But the more important difference between military systems and game systems is the fact that game decisions are easy to change for the most part, while military decisions don't get additional chances. When I make a bad call about a game system, we just change to another available option. But when some commander's military decision doesn't pan out, there might be an inquiry to verify whether or not the decision was rash. That's when jargon and obfuscation come into play - making everyone feel that the commander's wrong decision was unavoidably wrong.
So in that light, the documents on military decision making provide exactly the information their audience needs.