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James F. Dunnigan: I Would Recommend StrategyPage

May 31, 2016

French David Napoleon Alps

We’re in a golden age of writing about warfare. In case you haven’t noticed social aggregators, discussion boards, multitudinous blogs, and independent websites have created a thriving new culture where the public can learn about militaries and their activities with neither censorship nor restrictions.

One of the leading portals to 21st century kriegkultur is StrategyPage. Launched during the medieval 1990s, when HTML and webpages were the ultimate tools for independent writers, it has endured and evolved into a formidable resource for all things related to warfare and weapons.

With daily traffic in the five-digit range StrategyPage’s authors command an audience that rivals most press agencies. Foremost among them is Editor in Chief James F. Dunnigan. As a pioneer of tabletop war gaming Dunnigan has been catering to military enthusiasts before the beginning–of the personal computer, video games, Internet, and handcam combat footage.

A veteran author gone digital, Dunnigan’s monthly published output runs in the thousands of words on technology, current events, and killing machines. For this rare interview Jim agreed to share a little about StrategyPage’s success.

21AAR: How did you get involved with Strategy Page? How much has its purpose and content changed since 1998?

JFD: I was one of the founders and the purpose has not changed. StrategyPage

…provides quick, easy access to what is going on in military affairs. We cover armed forces world wide, as well as up to date reporting on wars and hotspots wherever they may be. All the news you need, written so that it fits into the time you have for it.

21AAR: What topics are you most involved in covering?

JFD: I cover everything but probably the regular wars updates more than anything else.

21AAR: How large is StrategyPage’s audience?

JFD: It varies. Most of the time it’s 250,000 monthly unique users. When there is a very active war going on it can be more than double that for months or longer.

21AAR: Are open sources more reliable than consulting official sources, as professional journalists do?

JFD: Open source data is more extensive and is often the official source cleaned up and more accurate.

21AAR: Is it true that the US military has now reached a point where it can deploy anywhere on Earth but can’t win wars?

JFD: Depends on how you define winning. See our section on that.

21AAR: Is the brewing confrontation between NATO and Russia justified? Or have both sides miscalculated each others intentions?

JFD: Putin created this because he needs an external threat to get attention away from the internal problems.

21AAR: You’re considered a pioneer in American tabletop war gaming in the 1960s. How much has it changed since?

JFD: More sims are computerized and more expensive to develop. Manual sims are still used in emergencies because they can be developed much more quickly.

21AAR: You’re also a pioneer in games for personal computers. Do you enjoy any modern real time strategy or military-themed video games?

JFD: Most military themed computer games are more entertainment than useful military tool. The US military has long bought source code rights and turned commercial sims in more useful (but a lot less fun) military versions. This doesn’t get much publicity although we cover it.

21AAR: Do you agree that video games and simulations will soon take over professional military training?

JFD: [It] already happened over a decade ago.

21AAR: How about war becoming the domain of robots? When will tin men roam battlefields and zap each other to death?

JFD: That’s been happening since the 19th century (torpedoes and naval mines) and has been developing ever since. We have covered that a lot.

21AAR: If you could recommend any of your books to someone unfamiliar with James F. Dunnigan, which titles would you suggest?

JFD: I would recommend StrategyPage, which has replaced book writing for me. How To Make War and The Wargames Handbook would be most useful for your purposes.

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