A collection of brief notes from a collection of former (and current) military professionals and how they came to know the Harpoon simulations. 

Edited by Don Gilman.

“I was in the Navy for 22 years. When Harpoon came out it was like an extra tool for me to train my guys. In EW school we were taught all the basics about weapons, tactics and the platforms that utilized them but nothing really put it all together. Harpoon did that. It gave my guys a better understanding of war at sea and how engagements evolve. I just hope there are still sailors out there that recognize the value of Harpoon and somehow incorporate it into their training.”

“I am a Surface Warfare Officer.   Most of my assignments afloat have been tactical warfare billets afloat as a TAO (on CVN and CGs) and the Combat Systems, Weapons, and Operations billets that support the warfighting effort.  Also spent time in training commands ashore.  I first ran into Harpoon as a junior officer almost fifteen years ago [1990] when I was going through tactical training in the Navy School House preparing for my first afloat tour.  Found a partial set of rules in the wardroom for the mini game that no one used.  I got exposure to the computer games as an extension of the mini game a couple of years later.  Both versions of the game get mentioned during training tracks but the Navy spends time on its on its own sim systems not giving the commercials stuff much of a chance to see action.  I had to go out on my own to learn about Harpoon.  A couple friends had the computer game at home but it mainly spent time on the shelf because it was considered taking work home.”

“I have played Harpoon on computer and board since the early 80’s. I even played with game books marked SECRET when I was in the Navy, serving on submarines. We edited/corrected the entries so that are games were consistent with war-game simulations. We played submarine engagements with the officers running the US forces and the Sonar Techs running the advisory/USSR subs. Thank for maintaining the Harpoon series, it has many fond memories.”

“I played the original Harpoon years ago on MSDOS, I am a naval officer and wanted a realistic computer simulation to keep me tactically current and train my junior officers.  Harpoon 3 seemed to fit the ticket.” – US Cmdr/CO of a Frigate

“When I used Harpoon as a training tool it was in a shipboard setting. Nothing formal, just me and my junior EW’s in the shop going through scenarios. Yes, it worked well in drawing together all of the knowledge about weapon systems, platforms and tactics that we had amassed in our schooling. Instead of seeing the single facet that our occupation contributed to the whole CIC picture we could see how all aspects of war at sea came together in an engagement and we could influence the outcome with our own knowledge. For some it made inherent sense, for others you could see the lights come on for the first time.”

“I believe I first saw HARPOON during Officer’s Training on board a ship.  One of the other officers was demonstrating it, and the CO thought it was pretty good for provoking tactical thinking.  I actually used my personal version of Harpoon while attending Naval Postgraduate School in (91-93) as a simulation model to test ASW tactics.  It wasn’t the tactics themselves I was testing, but the methodology of doing simulations.”

“Northrop Grumman: Harpoon 3 Professional provides a low cost high value solution to familiarize operators with maritime simulation/stimulation requirements.  Harpoon 3 Professional avoids the typical problem of being difficult to setup and requiring large amounts of manpower to run.  It supports users with the ability to create effective demonstrations and or simulations in the maritime domain quickly, on a single desktop.”

“Navy Commander: From a security perspective naval war gaming and analysis tools are analogous to fielded C2 systems such as GCCS – the underlying data, not the code base, is classified.  COTS systems mature in a larger customer base which means frequent releases with other organizations requirements may benefit you.  Many may also be surprised to learn that much of the code in COTS systems is often independently validated and verified and usually installed already in operational environments by another branch who took innovation into their own hands.  As you read this article there are hundreds of in theater war-fighters using COTS based systems in their daily missions, some not even programs of record.  Intelligent decisions to field capability are begin made as these COTS technologies are pulled into battle offering something much better, faster, cheaper and more capable.”

And a nice summary of the bi-polar attitude towards gaming:

Jane’s Fleet Command got distributed on my last ship in 2003 but you had to go ask for it.  The interface was not serious enough to get JOs to grab onto it as a serious training tool.  It got evaluated and then shelved.  After playing around with the embedded training systems all day it is hard to ask JOs to take personal time to do a game.  When they are on the computer they will be asking the wife how things are going at home via email before they go into game mode.  The other issue is that it is considered unprofessional to be gaming on a PC even for training.  That is official policy that is hard to defeat even if the game is a DOD training tool.  It is a culture thing that a few beers are required to explain.  “Why are you not working vice playing even if it is considered part the job” is the flak the JOs are trying to avoid.  I have waved this in front of JOs and get “the what the hell are you talking about” look in response.  I am sure you have seen this yourself but the new generation is a different breed of animal then my officer generation.  Real smart and also extremely lazy.  Weird.