Joint Multinational Simulation Center's Tactical Gaming
by U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Stewart
August 12, 2019
When people think about tactical training, they probably do not think of using a video game-based simulator as a way to train on their weapons systems; improve upon their communication skills; or become more proficient in their unit’s tactics and procedures.
That’s exactly what the Joint Multinational Simulation Center (JMSC) offers through Tactical Gaming and its effectiveness is undeniable.
May 3, 2019 - A U.S. Army Sapper, Ranger, and Airborne qualified Soldier assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, uses the Virtual Battle Space 3 (VBS3) system at the Joint Multinational Simulation Center’s Tactical Gaming division in Camp Aachen, Germany. VBS3 is a flexible, video game-based platform where service members can conduct virtual training scenarios as they would in the field. (U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Christopher Stewart)
“We have a sand table and it’s great, but it doesn’t even compare to reacting to the simulator,” said 1st Lt. Dylan Maher, a platoon leader for Quick Strike Troop, 4th Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment (4/2CR).
“When you’re in the simulator, your actions still have consequences,” said Sgt. Nathaniel Boring, a gunner assigned to Quick Strike Troop, 4/2CR. “If you have your truck out in the open, the opposition forces are going to see you and kill you.”
The military uses the “crawl, walk, run” model for training and Tactical Gaming provides commanders additional option to implement early on in their units’ train up.
Tactical Gaming isn’t meant to replace live-fire exercises, said Joseph Mercer, the chief of Tactical Gaming at JMSC. Units are best suited to use our facilities during the crawl phase of their training.
The JMSC’s Tactical Gaming division employs the Virtual Battle Space 3 (VBS3) and the Stryker Virtual Collective Trainer (SVCT) systems, where Soldiers get hands-on training in a virtual and operational environment.
The VBS3 is a flexible, video game-based platform where service members can conduct virtual training scenarios as they would in the field.
The SVCT builds off of VBS3 which is used as the foundation for the virtual training environment.
May 3, 2019 - The Stryker Virtual Collective Trainer (SVCT) shows the computer systems and seating arrangements that resemble an actual Stryker vehicle in Vilseck, Germany, Jan. 25, 2019. The SVCT is new to Tactical Gaming, a subordinate of the Joint Multinational Simulation Center, and will be used to train platoon-sized units in a virtual environment. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Stewart)
The SVCT is a new addition to Tactical Gaming that became accessible to Soldiers in May 2019.
The SVCT is a physical mockup of a Stryker; the structure replicates the interior of the vehicle while incorporating integrated computer systems that mimic the vehicle’s real-world equipment.
“Tactical Gaming is here to support Soldiers and units become proficient in the conduct of individual and collective battle drills,” said Mercer.
“Tactical Gaming enables Soldiers and leaders within the European theater to enter live training and operations at a higher level of operational readiness while reducing the resources required to achieve proficiency.”
From land navigation to gunnery operations, Tactical Gaming has training covered with little to no cost from the unit.
The beauty in this training is it requires no financial resources and logistical effort when compared to conducting live exercises said Soldiers from 4/2CR.
“From an economic standpoint, that was the best training we could do, and I’m not even a fan of tactical simulations,” said Boring. “There’s not much buy in. We show up, we conduct our training, and that’s it.”
Boring and Maher, who are both limited by their unit’s high operations tempo, expressed the significance in returning to Tactical Gaming to continue training.
“Since I’ve been in this troop, which is over three years, I’ve never trained above crew level because we’ve always been out doing operations,” said Maher. “That training gave us instantaneous feedback, something that takes much longer to do in the field.”
Along with Tactical Gaming being cost effective, scheduling time for units takes very little effort.
Soldiers can request training from Tactical Gaming two weeks in advance to give Mercer’s team time to craft the scenario.
I will meet with the requestor twice before the training; once to understand the training requirements, and a week later to show a draft of the scenario before the unit is ready to train, said Mercer.
“It would be foolish not to come back,” said Boring.
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