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There are as many ways to define MilSim as there are players on the battlefields, until you come across MilSim West and then everything is taken to a new dimension.

You can count on the fingers of one hand the great international airsoft events but, what does it take to enter this hall of fame? We went in search of a direct answer and talked to Joshua Warren and Michael Golembesky.

Joshua served in the 75th Ranger Regiment before becoming the maximum authority in charge of organising the event (the CEO) and Michael is a retired MARSOC closely linked to the world of Milsim and who, among other projects, collaborates in organising MSW as army command.

Both of them make it possible for many players, with their own MilSim definition, to live an experience in an event beyond anything they could have imagined.

Among the staff of the MSW we can find many operators, such as you yourselves. Please, tell us where you served and how you ended up in the world of MilSim.

JOSHUA

I started doing historical reenactment when I was young, 8 years old. I participated in American war of independence reenactments around where I grew up in the greater Chicago area. Then I joined the army. After completing Ranger Indoctrination Program class 12-01 I was assigned to C co 2 battalion 75th Ranger regiment at Fort Lewis, Washington state. I deployed to Afghanistan three times between 2002-2003 and Iraq twice from 2003-2004.

When I got out of the military I started working at a local airsoft arena in the Pacific Northwest near Seattle. I joined an airsoft team called Battlesim that also hosted events and met Brian Clarkson the co-owner of MilSim West.

MICHAEL

I server eight years in the Marine Corps as a forward observer and JTAC (Joint Terminal Attack Controller) with five deployments, included combat service in Afghanistan and Iraq. Units I have served with 3/10 artillery battery, 2/2 infantry battalion, and 2d MSOB (Marine Special Operations Battalion) now called 2nd Raider Battalion. I left the military in 2010 and moved back to Colorado where I first heard about MilSim/airsoft was on Facebook. It didn’t take long until I came across MSW and saw they were doing something different by having military veterans helping to run events as cadre. I sent MSW an email to see how I could get involved and the rest is history.

It´s awesome that skilled veterans are taking part in this. This brings an event to the next level in realism. The benefits for the players are evident, but can you find benefits for the veterans involved in this kind of activities?

 

JOSHUA

Honestly I hear a lot of people in the United States talking about benefits of MilSim for veterans but mostly I think those people are cry hard veterans who want attention usually for something they didn´t actually do. Everyone enjoys and get emotional and social benefits from their hobbies. Any hobby can make you feel better and there really shouldn't be a need to justify a hobby by describing its benefits.

What is the experience you want players to have, and what can we expect if we join one of your events?

 

JOSHUA

The experience I want to convey through MilSim West events is that of being part of a close knit unit with a mission. From start to finish the event is structured to force teamwork from all participants. Typically during the planning phase the platoon Cadre will explain the type of mission and give a short demonstration.

The platoon will cache their packs and sustaining gear and move out usually between 1-3KM to conduct an ambush or raid an enemy position.  When the mission is complete the platoon will take turns standing guard, eating or resting while other platoons from their faction conduct operations.

 

MICHAEL

The basic game play roles and requirements are laid out in the MSW TACSOP and other supporting documents found on the MilSim West website. As from a cadre point of view, it all starts when players begin to register and join their specific faction group page on Facebook. These are closed groups and only people with their names on the event roster can join. This is done for event operational security (OPSEC), because documents and tactical information is posted as the scheme and manoeuvre is developed.

Players get assigned to platoons and learn who their cadre will be. I think this preplanning process is one of the key aspects that make the MSW experience so unique.

Hearing about this complex structure, I´m sure you have must faced some "what the hell" moments. Please tell us about some of the funniest thing you have seen.

 

MICHAEL

When you are dealing with large numbers of players operating at night, remote training area using pyrotechnics, anything can happen...

JOSHUA

The reason we have the required packing list and do an inspection to make sure all participants have the items is funny.

In 2013 we produced an event at a massive (5x5KM) venue in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state. The Venue was at 5,000 feet elevation and the event was in October so temperatures got as low as -5 C at night.

Four young participants got dropped off by their parents with the following “gear”: Two wool blankets, two large plastic trash bags, a grocery bag with sodas, chips and a single large sandwich. This wasn’t enough gear or food and of course by Saturday morning the four guys where shivering and wanting to leave so one of our admins had to drive them  all the way back to parking and wait for their parents to come pick them up.

They looked like a pathetic pile of teenagers shivering under half the amount of wool blankets and plastic trash bags a homeless person would use. Their position was surrounded by empty soda cans and chip bags because they were using the trash bags as a DIY cover instead of to put trash in.
We waited until they left to laugh about it and after that we added a required packing list and a gear inspection by Cadre before every event.

One of the cool things about MSW is the attrezzo and scenarios. Where did you get all this Joshua?! What about the scenarios, some of the places we´ve seen are amazing.

JOSHUA
The scenario we use now is of a never-ending war between Russia and NATO. It’s of course meant to be a fantasy. The use of unique and specific uniforms and equipment for the different factions is meant to enhance immersion. Trying to see if a player is wearing red armband is less fun than seeing the other team in Russian uniform, with Russian equipment, and Russian style weapons.

MICHAEL

Most of the scenarios are based on real tactics that many of the cadres have used in combat. Because in MilSim, we have the ability to expand and experiment with the scenario.

JOSHUA

The venues we use are a combination of private sites and military sites. The Military bases we uses are ideal for what we do because we use such large areas and we have blank firing which causes a lot of noise. This can be a problem for smaller venues that are near population or residential areas. My favourite venue is Camp Shelby Mississippi, it has 30x30KM of playable area with 3 villages, 1 large town and a 500 person forward operating base with guard towers and a perimeter berm. We are very lucky the US Army allows us to use the facility.

What are the expansions plans of MSW for the near future? Can we ever expect you  Europe?

JOSHUA

We are talking with potential partners for a promotion in Europe right now. We want to produce one annual event for the European market. There are a lot of big and long events in Europe but I haven’t seen anything like what we offer. Our cadre provide experience that is hard to find.

Although Europe has armies and some of them are very active in global conflicts there just aren’t as many veterans there with combat experience like in the United States. Global politics aside the United States has been deploying soldiers and Marines to war in large numbers since 2001 and continues to do so. This means there is a large pool of experienced combat leaders for MilSim West to recruit Cadre from here in the United States. I am eager to present our style of game and our cadre to a European audience.

On a personal note I have close family in Madrid who I visit often. Spain is beautiful, has the best art and the best ham so any reason to visit is good for me.