Virtual world essential ingredient to overall training environment 

 

Having soldiers enter the virtual world is essential for maintaining readiness in combat operations as well as introducing new tactics and weapons, and the Army must further integrate these digital environments during training scenarios.

Maj. Gen. Robert B. Brown, commander of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, Ga., said live, virtual simulation and gaming have helped soldiers sustain proficiency.

However, some people still view virtual simulations as “nice to do but not essential – you can never replicate real simulation.”

The current complexity of networks is what makes virtual training a necessity, Brown said.

For example, on his first tour in northern Iraq commanding a Stryker brigade in 2004-2005, enemy networks were people carrying bags of money and cell phones. On his return in 2008-2009 as an assistant division commander, the network was more of a Facebook-like application on the Internet with no money physically exchanging hands.

“Live virtual constructive gaming is essential or we can’t defeat the enemy in the future,” he said. “It’s a mindset change, and then we have to take those final steps.”

Brown also said , “No doubt we have never been better” in air and ground integration during combat operations, but the challenge will be to sustain that and establish even more effective sensor-shooter links.

Currently there are still issues with aircraft picking up ground sensors, and it will be essential to iron those out as enemies get embedded more and more into urban areas.