Imagine This Scenario .....
The officer in charge of the mission suspects trouble. Everything is
too quiet. There are no people around. There are no cars. Could an
IED (explosive device) be ahead? He orders the gunner in his vehicle
to scan the balconies in the area to look for anything suspicious.
He orders his driver to stay in the middle of the road. It just
isn't right. It's much too quiet, and that's often an indicator of
trouble in the war in Iraq.
Boom! Moments later a massive roadside bomb explodes near the
American troops. The driver jerks the vehicle sharply to the left as
dust and smoke make the drive almost blinding.
Nobody was killed in this incident, however. Nobody was even
injured. For that matter, nobody was ever in danger. This wasn't a
real battlefield. The bomb wasn't real. Those involved are the many
troops who have used Virtual Battle Space 2, a military training
simulator, only one of the available virtual battlefield systems.
American and British troops are using a variety of virtual
battlefield systems to be prepared for roadside bombs, ambushes, and
other threats, with no threat to their safety while they are
training. As of August 2008, 2000 British troops had been trained on
Virtual Battle Space 2 before being sent to Iraq.
According to military officials, every decision made in combat
situations can be reviewed by using Virtual Battle Space 2 or other
virtual battlefield systems. Mistakes can be highlighted when
nobody's life is in danger so they will not be repeated in actual
combat. Someone who does not even have a driver's license could
drive a convoy.
In another situation, an officer
could use a few clicks of a mouse and the troops in training could
face a crowd of stone throwing, angry youths. The troops could see
what it would be like to drive a tank through or into such a
Virtual Battle Space 2 is one type of a virtual battlefield system
that uses actual Iraqi road networks. If a soldier would return from
Iraq and would use one of the simulators, he would see buildings
that are identical to those he saw on his tour of duty.
As of 2008, the simulators were only designed to simulate the war in
Iraq. There were plans to simulate the war in Afghanistan too,
however. There were also plans to simulate situations involving foot
Some may wonder, however, how a game can, no matter how realistic,
recreate actual life or death situations, when decisions must be
made in an instant. Many soldiers, however, insist the training they
have received may actually save their lives one day. They insist it
is not just a game to them. Other virtual battlefield systems that
could help save lives are also being used by the military or being
prepared by companies for future use.
Rayon Corp in Daytona Beach, Florida, has created Virtual Combat
Convoy Trainer. The simulator uses structures and land in the Middle
East that someone who has been there would recognize. Anyone using
it can experience IED's, roadside bombs, vehicle traffic,
pedestrians, and other civilian activity.
Lockheed Martin has built systems using Convoy Training to provide a
totally interactive training environment for soldiers. In Iraq and
Afghanistan, 30% to 50% of all fatalities are because of attacks on
convoys that were moving equipment or people.
The Virtual Combat Convoy Trainer gives training to shooters,
communicators, drivers, drivers, and those who must make decisions
in combat. There is simulation involving single vehicles, multiple
vehicles, air and ground fire units, and even medical evacuation.
Those in training will have to decide whether or not to shoot, to
avoid obstacles, and learn how to handle indirect and direct fire.
Convoys are used to address terrorist threats and for a variety of
other missions, including delivering medical supplies. The Combat
Convoy Simulator provides training for many vehicles, including
MTVRs, HUMMVs, and the MTVR.US Marine Corps. For the training, a
crew of four students and a commander are chose and given realistic
weather, terrain, and threats. They must focus on a variety of
scenarios, including high-value target extraction, medical
evacuation, logistics support, patrol, re-supply, and others. There
is planning for the mission. When that is completed, those involved
defend against current threats, as well as those that are evolving.
Those using one virtual battlefield system from Lockheed Martin, the
Close Combat Tactical Trainer- Reconfigurable Vehicle Simulator get
to experience accurate weapons systems and a three-dimensional view.
Each trainer can have up to five crew members, including a
commander, gunner, driver, and two crew members. Those involved get
to engage threats and communicate through simulated voice and
digital communications systems. The communications systems make the
experience more realistic. The system simulates combat service,
combat support, and tactical vehicles.
The United States military has used virtual systems for other things
too. Military vehicle simulators are the best known of such systems.
Flight simulators have been used by the Air Force, Navy, and Army to
train pilots. Missions may include flying into battle, recovering in
an emergency, or coordinating activities with ground control. Flight
simulators differ from one another, so often various simulators
cannot be used together.
There are a variety of ground vehicle simulators, including devices
that train soldiers to drive tanks, and the Stryker vehicle, which
has a lot of armor. They give an accurate feeling when compared to
the real thing. They can also duplicate about any environment
imaginable. One can learn to handle the vehicle in difficult
terrain. He can learn how to handle it in bad weather. The
simulators can be used in a network for war games.
Such simulators can be expensive, with the newest Stryker simulator
costing $800,000 each. One might ask, however, if they help save
lives, if they are not worth the cost.
The navy uses submarine simulators, which provide accurate readings
as the person being trained uses them. The navy also uses the
virtual bridge, which duplicates the bridge of a large navy ship.
There are computer monitors that act as windows for the bridge.
Others act as ship monitors. Those being trained are involved in
various scenarios that help people be able to better handle a ship
and learn to be a part of a team.