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The Movements Game

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1. The Movements Game, or 'Air Mobility' is a game of skill played between two teams - the first is called the 'Army' and is usually represented by an infantry battalion, and the second is called the 'Air Force' and is selected from part of the RAF movements organisation. The game is played on a four dimensional board - to be purchased separately - and involves the transportation of the first team by the second from one corner of the board (the departure airfield) to the other corner (the destination). Progress across the board is the subject to a series of handicaps.

2. Play is initiated by an external agency called 'PJHQ' The unit to be moved and its destination are selected at random, and to achieve maximum surprise and regardless of the actual amount of notice available, teams are to be informed at the last possible moment to make the move remain feasible and without regard to any other contrary instructions already issued.

3. Following the signal of 'Play', each team tries to score points off the other until the destination is reached, the Army runs out of troops or the Air Force runs out of serviceable aircraft or excuses. Note that the latter will never actually occur. The army team can 'resign' from play by adapting its exercise to the Salisbury Plain Training Areas. Points are awarded at each development in the play.

4. During basic planning, the Army scores 50 points if it can persuade the RAF to emplane the unit at an airfield within convenient distance to the unit being moved. The score is doubled if the airfield is devoid of all ground handling equipment and normally confined to light aircraft. The Air Force gains 50 points if the army is compelled to leave from Lyneham or Brize Norton and bonus points are issued if the road journey to these airfields exceeds the subsequent flight distance.

5. The payload quoted by the army in planning should in no way resemble the freight actually delivered for loading. The manifests however should be so worded that no formal reproach is possible subsequently between parenting headquarters. If the Air Force can identify such a discrepancy it gains 20 points and 50 points if the correspondence can be escalated to Brigadier level - the lowest level that a decision can actually be made in the RAF.

6. When allocating aircraft to the airlift, the Air Force gains 20 points for every Hercules it can configure in the full passenger role with a bonus of 10 points if the journey time exceeds 5 hours. The score will be doubled if the Hercules are overtaken in flight by VC10s or Tristars configured in the freight role and carrying the Air Force support personnel

7. Each team may make full use of conflicting or loosely worded orders, and 20 points will be awarded for any change not acted upon for which the recipients' own administrative service can be found to blame for ignorance of changes to times and place of departure.

8. It will be appreciated that the time of the Army unit's arrival at the departure airfield and the actual departure of the aircraft will bear no resemblance to any published information. The army may claim 1 point for every minute by which this time interval can be shortened whilst the RAF can claim a similar score for the unnecessary early arrival of the army. Both sides may make full use of obscure phrases hidden deep in the annexes to operation orders saying 'all times ZULU' etc.

9. The Army may be permitted to play a joker by loading freight to the aircraft themselves and by agreeing to supervision of this activity. The Army will be awarded 50 points for each aircraft loaded on time and about which the Captain and Loadmaster can find no valid reason for insisting on reloading or relashing: it will be appreciated that this will be exceptional. The Air Force will allocate troops to individual aircraft and so ensure that no plane contains any recognisable sub-unit of the army's organisation and may claim 1 point for each man separated from his company.

10. Each soldier is to be briefed at platoon, company and battalion level as to his baggage allowance and the list of prohibited articles. This information will be repeated by the Air Transport Liaison Officer and the Duty Air Movements Officer, as well as the Loadmaster. Ten points will be awarded to each soldier who exceeds his baggage allowance by more than 20% and a further 10 points awarded for any man who reaches the aircraft steps openly carrying a hexamine cooker, butane lighter or thunderflash.

11. En route the Air Force will be penalised for any unserviceability at Laarbruch or Goose Bay requiring an overnight stop. Points will be recouped if the aircraft can be declared unserviceable at Nairobi, Singapore or Hawaii. The Air Force will gain points if it can persuade the Army to remain in the departure lounge by claiming imminent departure and these points will be doubled if the aircraft can be declared serviceable but then delayed for a further 10 hours because the crew has exceeded its duty time. The RAF can gain a substantial lead if an overnight delay can be arranged. One point is awarded for every soldier compelled to stay in transit accommodation and bonus points are added for each man made to share in excess of the room's normal capacity. The RAF gain further points if they can allocate an officer to the same room as his orderly and score 50 points if at the same time, the crew secure hotel accommodation in the nearest city with points increasing according to the star rating of the selected hotel. Aircrew will of course gain heavily in this phase of play.

12. Arrival at the destination offers both sides the opportunity for good scoring. A prompt arrival is valued exceptionally at 50 points for the RAF. The Army reduce this score for each piece of baggage mislaid and this will usually be a weighting to achieve parity. The RAF can claim 10 points if it can announce that the unit commander's baggage was offloaded en route and 20 points if this proves to be true.

13. On arrival, the scores are compared and if the Air Force wins it begins the return move with a bonus of 200 points. If the Army win they can opt for a return by sea. In any event the game will be one of many.

14. It will be perceived that the game is open to infinite variation and can be played throughout times of peace. It is, however, deserving of one final accolade; it completely defies operational analysis, team management or resolution by computer simulation. Can one say fairer than that?


For a detailed discussion of just how dreadful the RAF can be at this sort of thing, please go here.