USA — Immersion Training Prepares Troops for Reality of War

WASHINGTON — U.S. Joint Forces Com­mand has devel­oped a com­put­er­ized train­ing pro­gram that immers­es ground troops in the sights, sounds and smells of war, offi­cials there say.
Most impor­tant­ly, they say, the pro­gram, known as Future Immer­sive Train­ing Envi­ron­ment, or FITE, will improve ser­vice­mem­bers’ crit­i­cal deci­sion-mak­ing skills in com­bat.

“We look at it as putting these sol­diers and Marines in a very com­plex deci­sion-mak­ing envi­ron­ment,” Jay Reist, FITE oper­a­tions man­ag­er at the Nor­folk, Vir­ginia-based com­mand, said dur­ing a tele­phone con­fer­ence with defense reporters today. “It’s not about kinet­ic engage­ment, it’s about under­stand­ing the base­line envi­ron­ment they’re in,.…and mak­ing prop­er deci­sions.”

The first phase of the pro­gram, which is designed for small units, was demon­strat­ed with 13 Marines from 2nd Bat­tal­ion, 8th Marine Reg­i­ment at Camp Leje­une, N.C., and sol­diers at Fort Ben­ning, Ga., in Feb­ru­ary and March. The sec­ond phase, live-action train­ing to be done in a ware­house on Camp Pendle­ton, Calif., is sched­uled for demon­stra­tion in Sep­tem­ber, Reist said.

Phase 1 is a vir­tu­al-real­i­ty based pro­gram in which ser­vice­mem­bers strap on gear that includes a head­set that trans­mits the sights, sounds and smells of war, while also mon­i­tor­ing their heart rates to gauge not only their health, but also how immersed they are in the com­bat set­ting, said Clarke Lethin, a tech­ni­cal man­ag­er of the pro­gram with the Office of Naval Research.

The hel­met dis­play shows var­i­ous scenes, most­ly based on Afghanistan, in which troops inter­act with local peo­ple depict­ed by com­put­er-gen­er­at­ed images paired with the live voic­es of cul­tur­al experts mon­i­tor­ing the train­ing, said Navy Lt. Cdr. Rob Lyon, a Joint Forces Com­mand spokesman. In one scene, a local Afghan approach­es a ser­vice­mem­ber to give him a tip about where impro­vised explo­sive devices are hid­den. The out­come of the sce­nario is based on the servicemember’s reac­tion. If he ignores the villager’s warn­ing, he may stum­ble across the IED and be killed, Lyon explained. The ser­vice­mem­ber may engage the vil­lager in con­ver­sa­tion where even sub­tleties such as how he holds his weapon can affect the out­come, he said.

At the same time, the par­tic­i­pants’ com­mand­ing offi­cer is talk­ing to them through a head­set with dif­fer­ent audio, and a gen­er­a­tor is pump­ing out smells, such as cordite dur­ing a fire­fight. To add to the vir­tu­al real­i­ty, each of the program’s weapons is equipped with a shock device to sim­u­late the ser­vice­mem­ber get­ting wound­ed or killed, Lyon said.

“These sol­diers and Marines are in a very com­plex com­bat envi­ron­ment,” Reist said. “This is about how they detect anom­alies and make prop­er deci­sions. It enables them to go over count­less rep­e­ti­tions in deci­sion-mak­ing and it’s rewards-based for good deci­sions.

“This is about the 6 inch­es between the right and left ear of that 20-year-old in com­bat,” he added.

The com­mand spent 18 months devel­op­ing the sys­tem and received input through­out the Defense Depart­ment, includ­ing the Joint Impro­vised Explo­sive Device Defeat Orga­ni­za­tion, and from com­bat vet­er­ans, as well as from aca­d­e­mics and oth­er out­side experts includ­ing cog­ni­tive psy­chol­o­gists, Lethin said.

“Before we even start­ed going into this, we took strides to inter­view return­ing vet­er­ans from Iraq and Afghanistan about what we need­ed to include to cre­ate the most respon­sive train­ing envi­ron­ment,” he said. “All along the way, we made sure we got con­stant feed­back.”

The vir­tu­al real­i­ty aspects of the pro­gram works well for today’s young ser­vice­mem­bers, Reist said. “In each case, what we found is that from the gen­er­a­tion these young men come from, they are very com­fort­able with it. They under­stand it not as a game, but as train­ing.

As a team, they work through unit-mak­ing, cohe­sion and train­ing skills,” he added.

Lethin and Reist, both for­mer Marines, said the goal of the immer­sion is that ser­vice­mem­bers’ first fire­fight is no worse than their last sim­u­la­tion.

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

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

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

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →