News | Aug 15, 2019

Are you ready to play Insurgent Uprising, the Navy’s board game for training special ops?

Two military officers invented a board game to teach and reinforce unconventional warfare theory to U.S. Special Forces. The Naval Postgraduate School is ready to license it to a board game company.

Students at the Naval Postgraduate School conduct wargames in 2018.

Javier Chagoya/NPS

The U.S. Navy’s patent application for a new board game was made public for the first time on Thursday, marking an opportunity for private businesses to license it for manufacturing and sales.

It’s called Insurgent Uprising, and it was created by Jeremy Arias and Chad Klay, U.S. Army officers attending the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

The game requires four players, one player is the state or counterinsurgent player, who is also the regional power and occupying government force. The other three are rebel groups working to build their combat power and influence.

It’s played on a board that may seem familiar to many gamers and starts with a revolution.

Resource Production Units (RPU) provide players with financial resources. The External Support Ports long the edges of the board allow international trade for needed resources and for players to bring in foreign military support. (via U.S. Patent Application 16/274,096)

Each of those actions earns the player points. And according to the rules, to win the game, players must score 15 points in a single turn or have the most points when the United Nations intervenes.

To learn and reinforce Unconventional Warfare, winning the board game requires players to manage their limited resources, construct bases, buy weapons and build an army to expand their area of influence.

  • 2 points for each base
  • 1 for each active influence
  • 1 for each active military unit

And customized victory points may be defined at the beginning of each game if there are specific learning objectives

“The first method for winning the wargame is a decisive victory of being the first player to gain and maintain 15 points for one complete turn. Any player with 15 points is in a strong position economically and militarily. Through playtesting, when a player gains and maintains 15 points for one complete turn that player is in the dominant position to carry the campaign on to overall success, the creators wrote in their thesis.

“The second method of victory is to have the most points by the 12th turn of the wargame, which is marked ‘UN Intervention’ on the turn tracking board. This victory condition represents the historical fact that 33% of insurgencies end in negotiated settlements due to a fundamental stalemate.”

Playing the game allows students to conduct operationally-relevant analysis, enhancing their understanding of complex strategic concepts and to gain practical experience. And it works.

The Naval Postgraduate School has its own Wargaming Activity Hub in the Operations Research department led by led by Dr. Jeff Appleget, a retired U.S. Army colonel.

“NPS is one of the very few institutions that has a robust wargaming education program to bring wargaming to the front and to get experienced wargaming practitioners that senior leadership can leverage,” Appleget said.

This game was made for Army Special Forces Teams (Operational Detachment Alpha) in hopes of countering the tendency, developed as part and parcel of the Global War on Terror, to look at every situation as a nail, and direct action (cordon and search, raids, air assaults and strikes) as the hammer.

“ODAs tend to initially struggle with Unconventional Warfare doctrine and theory and frame the problem through a Direct Action lens,” Arias and Klay wrote in their thesis.

There’s no reason civilians can’t have fun playing the game and learn the same lessons as the soldiers, but the game is not publicly available–yet.

Through technology transfer agreements, private businesses, including board game makers, can license patented or patent-pending intellectual property created by the federal government. And the Naval Postgraduate School has a robust intellectual property portfolio.

TechLink, the Department of Defense’s national partner for technology transfer, which guides businesses through the evaluation and licensing of intellectual property, contacted the Naval Postgraduate School on Thursday to confirm that Insurgent Uprising is available for license.

Interested parties can learn more about the licensing opportunity by contacting Joan Wu-Singel, senior technology manager at TechLink, via email at or by telephone at 406-994-7705.

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