Fighting Bombs in Cyberspace Gives Army an ‘EDGE

WASHINGTON, May 12, 2011 — Afghan peo­ple and places are being repli­cat­ed in cyber­space, giv­ing warfight­ers a way to train for one of the most com­plex, dead­ly sit­u­a­tions they will face on the ground.
The fight against impro­vised explo­sive devices or home­made bombs — weapons of choice for ter­ror­ists every­where — has lots of mov­ing parts. That’s why the Joint IED Defeat Orga­ni­za­tion here is fund­ing a research project pro­to­type that com­bines tech­nol­o­gy from vir­tu­al worlds, Army sim­u­la­tions and com­put­er gam­ing.

EDGE, for Enhanced Dynamic Geosocial Environment
EDGE, for Enhanced Dynam­ic Geoso­cial Envi­ron­ment, is a research project pro­to­type fund­ed by the Joint IED Defeat Orga­ni­za­tion in Wash­ing­ton that com­bines the vir­tu­al world, Army sim­u­la­tion and com­put­er gam­ing tech­nol­o­gy “to make the first fire­fight no worse than the last sim­u­la­tion.”
U.S. Army graph­ic
Click to enlarge

“We’re down here today work­ing on a prod­uct called EDGE — Enhanced Dynam­ic Geoso­cial Envi­ron­ment,” Matt Kauf­man, chief of tech­nol­o­gy and inte­gra­tion at the Army’s Train­ing and Doc­trine Com­mand, told Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice. The com­mand spon­sors the JIED­DO-fund­ed pro­to­type, which has been in devel­op­ment for about six months. 

Kauf­man and oth­er experts at the Army Sim­u­la­tion and Train­ing Tech­nol­o­gy Cen­ter in Orlan­do, Fla., talked about the effort to inte­grate “mas­sive­ly mul­ti­play­er” online gam­ing tech­nol­o­gy like that used in the wild­ly pop­u­lar World of War­craft game, with a vir­tu­al world envi­ron­ment and an accu­rate Army sim­u­la­tion called One­SAF, short for One Semi Auto­mat­ed Forces. 

“Our goal,” Kauf­man said, “is to be able to recre­ate the devices, peo­ple and activ­i­ties [that make up the counter-IED effort] in the oper­a­tional envi­ron­ment as accu­rate­ly as pos­si­ble to forces in training.” 

When the EDGE pro­to­type is com­plete, warfight­ers head­ed for the war zone will be able to enter, as dig­i­tal repli­cas of them­selves called “avatars,” a near-exact vir­tu­al Afghan vil­lage. There, they will be able to prac­tice the work they will do on the ground to search out and destroy road­side bombs, and to track down and dis­rupt the bomb-mak­ing net­works whose mem­bers fund and sup­ply explo­sive mate­ri­als to those they can con­vince to build and plant the bombs. Train­ing isn’t the only ben­e­fit. In a vir­tu­al Afghanistan, if some­thing goes wrong, no one dies. 

“That’s where we’re hop­ing to take EDGE,” said Doug Maxwell, sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy man­ag­er for vir­tu­al world and strate­gic appli­ca­tions at the train­ing and tech­nol­o­gy cen­ter. EDGE will com­bine the dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies, he added, “so we can lever­age the best of both to deliv­er very quick­ly to a large audi­ence what we know is going on in the the­aters.” In a coun­terin­sur­gency or in irreg­u­lar war­fare, the com­plex­i­ty of the oper­a­tional envi­ron­ment isn’t just the kinet­ic piece, said Ben Jor­dan, direc­tor of the oper­a­tional envi­ron­ment lab mod­els and sim­u­la­tions direc­torate in TRADOC’s Intel­li­gence Sup­port Activity. 

“There is also the non­com­bat­ant bat­tle space, the whole notion of how to com­mu­ni­cate with elders and cler­gy and com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers, build rap­port, spot bad guys in a crowd and dis­cern atti­tudes and how they change,” Jor­dan said. “These are the kinds of things you can get at.” Sec­ond- and third-order effects a warfight­er can’t get in a five-day lin­ear exer­cise that starts on a Tues­day and ends on a Fri­day come into play over time, Jor­dan not­ed, cit­ing a ben­e­fit of the technology. 

The com­bi­na­tion of tech­nolo­gies that pro­duce EDGE could cre­ate a sys­tem that’s more sophis­ti­cat­ed than any one tech­nol­o­gy alone. “What we’re try­ing to do that’s dif­fer­ent from every­one else is com­bine the capa­bil­i­ties of mod­ern gam­ing tech­nolo­gies with the accu­ra­cy and approved mod­els of the Army through One­SAF,” Kauf­man said. “As you look at any of the oth­er games today, what’s miss­ing is the accu­ra­cy of the valid physics or mod­els that make them good enough to begin to make behav­ior changes based on [the gam­ing scenarios].” 

For exam­ple, Kauf­man said, “when you shoot a bul­let, it flies accu­rate­ly, not just in a straight line.” Most games short­cut the physics, he said, because it takes a lot of com­put­ing pow­er to make a vir­tu­al world act like the real world, and games focus more on the enter­tain­ment and art­work. “In a train­ing envi­ron­ment where you’ve got to make sure the out­comes are pre­cise, if you don’t under­stand where the short­cuts have been tak­en, you can make false assump­tions because of what you see in front of you, not because of what real­ly hap­pens,” Kauf­man said. 

Gam­ing tech­nol­o­gy becomes much more per­sua­sive to a user when it is laid on top of a vir­tu­al world envi­ron­ment, STTC lead engi­neer Tami Grif­fith said. 

“Let’s say you and I are stand­ing togeth­er in a vir­tu­al envi­ron­ment and we decide to build a car,” she said. “I can in sec­onds throw togeth­er the frame­work of a car. You could say, ‘That’s nice, but I don’t like the lights.’ So you could in real time move the lights and change the wheels or their size, things like that. With­in 15 min­utes after we’ve designed the car, we could hop in and dri­ve away. How many oth­er envi­ron­ments allow that? That’s pret­ty powerful.” 

“We want to make EDGE as capa­ble and as vivid­ly stim­u­lat­ing as the cur­rent game tech­nolo­gies,” Kauf­man said, “but bring in the real­ism nec­es­sary to sup­port Army train­ing. That, to date, has nev­er been done.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →