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Tactics Training in Virtual Reality


									     Tactics Training in Virtual Reality
       (The Future of the Officer Advanced Course)
     by Major Louis DiMarco

  The company commander looked ahead         vanced Course virtual reality training       tic field training now available at the
and saw the Bravo section of his 1st         equipment and exit the tactical training     Army’s combined arms training centers.
platoon break the wood line as they be-      matrix. After a moment’s hesitation, he
gan bounding forward. Turning to the         decided that his wife would understand         Simulation immersion is the process
                                                                                          of placing the individual student in a
right, he could see the small group of       if he stayed another hour: he just need-     virtual reality matrix designed to assist
houses where the Alpha section was           ed to issue a FRAGO and take out that
waiting. A glance at his commander’s         enemy AT platoon.                            him in learning and practicing specific
                                                                                          tactical skills. This tactical training
display told him that 2d and 3d pla-           The Army is just beginning to tap the      matrix (TTM) is very similar to the
toons were moving along their desig-
nated axis.                                  power of virtual reality simulation. The     UCOFT gunnery matrix concept. Dif-
                                             exercise described here is an indication     ferences do exist, however: progress
  At that moment, there was a sudden         of the direction this type of training       through the matrix is seamless; the
roar, and then the concussion of incom-      may take in the future. The key to get-      skills on which the matrix focuses are
ing artillery. He looked up in time to       ting there is establishing a vision of how   cognitive, as opposed to mechanical;
see the streak of antitank missiles; he      to train for Force 21 now. This paper        and the “immersion” is a daily event
watched both of the bounding Bravo           presents one view of how we may              practiced over an extended period of
vehicles take hits and explode. Missiles     transform Advance Course students into       time. The tactical matrix will be aug-
were also coming at him, but his vehi-       the leaders of Force 21.                     mented by more conventional platform
cle defense system was faster than the         The focus of Force 21 officer training     and small group instruction (accom-
enemy gunners: it launched smoke, chaff,                                                  plished using advanced automated
and electronic countermeasures. As his       must be on creating leaders who are          techniques) and by specialized simula-
helmet-mounted thermal goggles auto-         tactics experts. Future battles will be      tion designed to train special skills as a
                                             short, violent, and decisive. The defeat
matically came on, his driver was al-        of a company or platoon may have na-         supplement to the tactical instruction.
ready moving back into the deep cover
of the forest and out of the line of fire.   tional strategic consequences. There will      As the “immersion” concept is imple-
                                             no longer be latitude to allow leaders to    mented, however, other aspects of the
  Now personally safe, the commander         learn “on the job.” Institutional training   advanced officer training curriculum
set to work to make sense of the situ-       will have to produce expert leaders          will require adjustment. For example,
ation using his vehicle commander’s          who, in turn, can conduct unit training      some key skills required of military
display, which was lit up like a Christ-     to achieve the standards required.           leaders do not lend themselves to in-
mas tree. A quick review of status re-         How will we train these experts? One       struction through simulation. At the
ports and a scan of his map and icons                                                     Advanced Course level, these include
told him the bad news: 1st platoon had       adage holds that tacticians are grown,       personnel management, maintenance
                                             not trained. In other words, tactical
been cleverly ambushed by enemy for-         ability is a function of hard-earned, ex-    forms and records, introduction to other
ces camouflaged under thermal shrouds;                                                    arms of service, and the Army writing
his other two platoons, unable to move,      pensive, and time-consuming field train-     program. These subjects are generally
                                             ing and experience. Only the basics can
were taking heavy fire from a combina-       be taught in the classroom. This view        taught in a large-group platform in-
tion of conventional and smart muni-                                                      struction format. An inefficient instruc-
tions. He was tired after ten hours of       has always been substantially correct,       tion technique with relatively low learn-
planning and execution, but now it was       borne out through hundreds of years of       ing value, this method monopolizes a
                                             battlefield engagements. As we approach
time to make the decisions and give the      the end of the 20th Century, however,        disproportionate share of the student’s
orders that would either save the situ-                                                   resident course time training subjects
ation or confirm the failure of his mis-     we know it is no longer entirely accu-       that may contribute only peripherally to
                                             rate; by the turn of the century it will
sion. Sweat and stress both showed on        be rendered totally erroneous. Technol-      warfighting.
his face as he peered intently at his
map looking for the answer to what           ogy, both current applications and those       The most efficient way to teach these
                                             that are coming in the near future, will     subjects as technology improves is through
was obviously a complex and vexing           permit us to teach tactics to a degree of    distributed training (DT). In the past,
tactical problem.
                                             resolution undreamed of in the past.         DT has been both ineffective from a
                                             This will be accomplished primarily          learning point of view and difficult to
  So intent was the commander that he        through simulation immersion in the          manage and evaluate administratively.
barely heard the chime ringing in his        Officer Advanced Course. It will sur-        Current and near-future technology is
headphones indicating class was over         pass, in cumulative effect on the indi-      changing this. Distributed training has
for the day. He could log off the Ad-        vidual leader, the extraordinarily realis-   the capability to become completely

38                                                                             ARMOR — January-February 1995
automated, requiring only access to a base   dozens, if not hundreds, of tactical mis-     ing objectives, and facilitate through
level of computer hardware. Though it        sions arranged and grouped according          realistic AARs.
will not be mandatory, in the near fu-       to mission type, difficulty, and unit size.
ture virtually every commissioned offi-      Officers will be expected to start with         The warfighting environment will re-
                                                                                           quire effective automated forces, con-
cer will own at least a moderately pow-      simple company missions that stress           trolled by a sophisticated artificial intel-
erful PC. The few who do not will            tactical fundamentals before moving to
have access to PCs through their unit        more complex missions under extreme           ligence (AI), that can perform all mis-
                                                                                           sions and related tasks as directed by
or through public facilities such as li-     conditions. Eventually they will gradu-       the student. The AI must also produce
braries, education centers, and the local    ate to battalion- and then brigade-level
DOIM.                                        missions.                                     realistic, flexible enemy forces of vari-
                                                                                           ous sizes and at various levels of inten-
  DT materials will be given to the stu-       The TTM will be designed as a con-          sity and competence, and it must be
dent in the form of compressed floppy        tinuous, seamless artificial reality. Be-     able to simulate a variety of terrain and
disks or, more likely, in CD-ROM for-        ginning in the role of a new company          weather conditions. Finally, the envi-
mat. Each CD will carry one or more          commander, the student will receive           ronment must provide other realistic
classes, including practical exercises       missions, conduct planning and prepa-         details such as subordinate personalities
and tests. The classes will be multime-      ration, issue orders, and then execute        (including images and voices) and im-
dia presentations, employing graphics,       the required operations. At the conclu-       portant maintenance and administrative
text, animation, digitized voice, and        sion of each mission, he will take part       tasks to make the environment more be-
video to present each subject. Lessons       in an after-action review (AAR). If the       lievable.
will be coded so that students must ob-      student demonstrates proficiency in the
serve demonstrations and complete ex-        tasks tested by the mission, his next as-       The interface with students needs to
                                                                                           be simple, yet realistic, and capable of
ercises before tests are open to them.       signment will take him to a new level         imparting all the information needed
Once the student takes a test, which         of the matrix, with a comparable in-
will also make sophisticated use of the      crease in complexity. If the mission is       during the training. Hardware will in-
                                                                                           clude a modified CVC helmet for sound
presentation media, he will transmit the     less than successful, he will receive ad-     effects and receiving oral orders and
answers using a modem to an elec-            ditional training and then execute the
tronic address at an administration cen-     same mission requirements again in a          reports, an integrated microphone for
                                                                                           passing voice instructions and orders, a
ter. All tests will be graded electroni-     different situation. This sequence will       computer screen display to provide a
cally and the results transmitted digi-      be repeated as necessary until the stu-
tally back to the student. As with some      dent masters the learning goals of the        first-person point of view for the pur-
                                                                                           pose of situational awareness and re-
current Army instruction, resident course    mission.                                      connaissance, and either an actual com-
attendance and promotions can be tied
to DT completion. The DT package               To the student, transition through the      mander’s display unit or screen replica
                                             matrix will be seamless, with each new        of the display. This interface will repli-
will probably be issued immediately,         missions, logically related to the pre-       cate the actual C2 software of the vehi-
following the Officer Basic Course,
with completion required before the of-      vious one. Advancement, occurring when        cle and, supplemented by the digitized
ficer attends the Advanced Course.           the student has demonstrated mastery          voice and video inputs of key leaders,
                                             of the required skills at each level, will    will allow the student to fight the battle
  DT will not completely eliminate the       be disguised in a number of ways. Por-        in essentially the same way he would
need for some in-residence platform in-      tions of the matrix will not be more          in real life. Most important, the tactical
struction, but it will significantly de-     difficult, merely different, and early        decisions he makes will be based on
crease the time devoted to it. Like DT,      learning-type missions may be run             the same stimuli (voice reports, digit-
resident instruction will be almost com-     again later in the matrix to reinforce        ized information, first-person view)
pletely automated and, therefore, will       training objectives. Through role play-       that will influence him in battle.
be in many ways far superior to the          ing, the student will undergo attach-
current system of a platform instructor      ment to other units and reassignment to         Scenario design will be another key
armed only with a VGT. Further, auto-        new duty positions. These actions will        to the learning experience. The scenar-
mated instruction (resident and DT)          not only provide a logical way to tran-       ios must go beyond the fundamentals
will include on-line assistance, either      sition between missions and situations,       of tactics. They must force the student
by telephone from a TRADOC school            but also will reinforce the consistency       to view tactics in an analytical manner
instructor or, more likely, via modem        of the virtual world. The objective is to     and teach him how to make sound tac-
through a DT bulletin board or an in-        simulate an experience analogous to           tical decisions. Designers will have to
structor’s E-mail. Resident students, of     that of a World War II officer who            pay special attention to both the scenar-
course, can also get help directly from      lands at Normandy as an inexperienced         ios and the accompanying instruction to
their assigned instructors.                  company commander and, by April               avoid “school solutions” at the expense
                                             1945, ends the war as a very experi-          of the analytical process.
  Having used DT to complete a good
                                             enced battalion commander.
deal of his education in important, but                                                      Each scenario will be designed and
not essential, subjects, the company-          Given the goals of the TTM, software        developed to make the student think.
grade officer will be ready for resident-    and hardware design will be critical. It      “Winning” as a concept will be irrele-
phase education focused almost exclu-        must accomplish several complemen-            vant, bearing little relationship to the
sively on warfighting. This will be ac-      tary tasks: create a realistic warfighting    student’s progress through the matrix.
complished by simulation immersion.          environment, permit the student to in-        Rather, planning and judgment will be
Soon after arriving for resident advanced    terface with the environment in a real-       the mark of success. Some matrix sce-
training, the officer will be introduced     istic manner, allow instructors to moni-      narios will be structured so the mission
to the TTM. The matrix will contain          tor the student’s achievement of learn-       is likely to fail; in these cases, the

ARMOR — January-February 1995                                                                                                     39
learning objectives will be keyed to the     an understanding of joint and unified         troops in maintaining their tactical pro-
student’s performance in analyzing the       operations.                                   ficiency and professional currency. The
adverse conditions that led to mission                                                     software would also have obvious ad-
failure. The cumulative goal of the ma-        Most of the technology described            vantages in courses other than the Ad-
                                             here (graphics, tactically smart artificial
trix is to employ realism and repetition     intelligence, instructional software, dig-    vanced Courses (Basic Course, AN-
to make sound tactical analysis and imagi-                                                 COC, CGSC) and could be adapted as
native decision-making each student’s        itized voice and video, and voice rec-        a home station trainer for small units.
                                             ognition) is currently available. What is
unconscious, automatic reaction to bat-      required, then, is a concerted effort to      With some modifications, a company
tlefield stimuli. This will ensure not                                                     or battalion commander could use the
only that every leader can make good         harness the technology and shape it to        system to interface directly with the ac-
                                             meet the training needs of Force 21.
decisions, but also that he can keep pace    This effort must begin soon and be            tual C2 software of their vehicles and
with the information flow and tempo                                                        conduct unit CPXs. Finally, the simula-
of the Force 21 environment.                 maintained parallel to the doctrinal and      tion software could be used during ac-
                                             organizational reshaping of the Army.
  Although the tactical matrix will be       The goal must be that when Force 21 is        tual operations to test COAs, wargame,
                                                                                           and rehearse plans in the field.
the centerpiece of the Officer Advanced      a reality, leaders will already be trained
Course, two other types of instruction       to maximize its effectiveness.                  The goal of the Force 21 Advance
will supplement and complement the                                                         Course will be to produce a company-
                                               In the short term, much can be done
tactical matrix: small group tactical in-    to increase the use of simulation in com-     grade officer who is an expert tactician,
struction and specialized simulation.                                                      capable of intuitively seeing and ana-
                                             pany officer training. Currently, SIM-        lyzing the battlefield, after only five
  The small group sessions will be some-     NET, ARTBASS and JANUS simula-                months of resident training. These in-
what similar to current conventional         tors are being used to the maximum
small group instruction but will focus       extent possible. Designed as unit train-      tuitive skills must be trained prior to
                                                                                           the officer taking command of his unit
on an exchange of ideas based largely        ers, they are very expensive to operate.      if he is to have any hope of managing
on the student’s matrix experiences.         Although they provide good training,
Students will periodically get together      the training is of limited duration, and      the information and operations tempo
                                                                                           of the Force 21 battlefield. This will be
in small groups to discuss a variety of      cannot always be specifically tailored        possible only through rigorous immer-
tactical problems, techniques, and solu-     to what is happening in the classroom.
tions with an instructor. The goal of        What is needed is a simulation that can       sion in tactical simulation. The technol-
                                                                                           ogy used in institutional training will
these discussions will be to allow the       be operated in the small group class          also have applicability in the field for
students to benefit from the analysis        room, that provides an accurate repre-
and experience of their peers. It will       sentation of tactical operations at bri-      small unit training. Simulation immer-
                                                                                           sion training has the potential of not
also force each individual to reflect        gade and below, that is inexpensive,          only producing expert leaders, but also
upon and analyze his own tactical ex-        that is available every day of the course,
periences, thus reinforcing the concept      and that can be programmed and modi-          expert units with the skills and capa-
                                                                                           bilities they need to face the awesome
of a student-centered learning environ-      fied by the instructor to meet the indi-      challenges of the Force 21 battlefield.
ment emphasizing individualized in-          vidual learning requirements of his stu-
struction and student responsibility.        dents.
  Specialized simulations will be used         Commercial computer war games can
to teach the student additional skills       do almost all of this and more now.
that he may require when executing the       These games offer a range of readily
advanced portions of the matrix. These       available capabilities: accurate unit mod-         Major Louis A. DiMarco was
skills include fire planning, employing      eling of U.S. forces at brigade level and        commissioned in Armor in 1981
fire support assets, piloting remote re-     below, combined with very capable en-            from the U.S. Military Acad-
connaissance platforms, coordinating         emy AI; quick scenario-building and              emy. A graduate of Airborne
with close air support, and performing       customizing; accurate weather, morale,           School, AOBC, BMOC, and
specialized staff functions. For exam-       supply, and terrain effects; digitized
ple, rather than telling a student how a     1:50,000 DMA map graphics combined               the Infantry Officer Advanced
logistics officer does his job, the simu-    with unit symbols and graphics; replay           Course, he is currently at-
lation will assign the duties of a battal-   capability; and modem and networking             tending the Command and
ion logistics officer to the student and     capability. Integrating this technology          General Staff College at Fort
require him to plan and support a bat-       fully into leader training will represent        Leavenworth. He served as a
tle. Specialized simulation will also in-    the first small step toward the simula-          cavalry platoon leader, troop
clude larger, more conventional tactical     tion immersion required to create ex-            XO, and assistant S3, 1-1
simulators similar to the close combat       pert tacticians.                                 Cavalry, 1AD, Germany; as
tactical trainer (CCTT). Scenarios in                                                         squadron S1 and troop com-
these simulators will give the student         One of the central requirements of
additional practice on his tactical skills   simulation immersion is a system that            mander, 2-1 Cavalry, 2d AD,
and introduce such concepts as leader-       is simple, cost-effective, and versatile.        Fort Hood, Texas; and most
ship, “the fog of war,” and the coordi-      Once such a system is designed, it will          recently as Cavalry Leader
nation challenges caused by large num-       have applications well beyond officer            Course instructor, OIC Scout
bers of human players. CCTT simula-          advanced training. For example, soft-            Platoon Leader Course, and
tors can also be networked to include a      ware package could be used as part of            Chief, Platoon Doctrine, U.S.
wide variety of branches, services, and      distributed training to help officers who        Army Armor School, Fort Knox.
other nations so that the student gains      are serving in assignments away from

40                                                                              ARMOR — January-February 1995

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