Video game trains soldiers
Soldiers, like many people, play video games to relax and unwind. The resulting sharpened hand-eye coordination is a beneficial though unintentional side-effect.
For 24 soldiers of Task Force 1-10 Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) who were preparing to deploy last year to Afghanistan, the video games were not just fun and games; they were serious.
Defence Research and Development Canada employed a training simulation called Virtual Battle Space 2 (VBS2, from Bohemia Interactive) to provide what many would consider unconventional pre-deployment training.
The training, delivered by DRDC Toronto, covered counter-IED (CIED) theory, using the VBS2 controls, and environment familiarization wherein soldiers learned vehicle, dismount and communication drills within the VBS2 platform. The soldiers went through six increasingly difficult and complex exercises. The scenarios included convoy operations, finding IEDs, IED strikes and vehicle breakdowns.
For each scenario soldiers were issued orders and allocated time for rehearsal. Missions were carried out in VBS2 on individual computers in a darkened room, followed by after-action reviews using the game’s re-play capability.
The training was developed under the IED Awareness Training project, DRDC Toronto’s contribution to the omnibus CIEDTechnology Demonstration Project. This project has been integrating input from deployed soldiers and analyses of real IED incidents to develop and evaluate a realistic training environment for soldiers heading to Afghanistan. Soldiers’ feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, citing improvements in convoy and CIED knowledge and communications, and increases in levels of confidence, team trust and performance under stress.
DRDC Toronto has used VBS2 to research the effectiveness of “serious games” for teaching threat-awareness skills and supporting training events for local Reserve Force units. VBS2 has also been used to create “Actions-On” training videos demonstrating team drills in response to various convoy situations in an IED-threat environment. DRDC Toronto hopes VBS2 will help make CF soldiers better-prepared and more effective when they transition from the video screen to Afghanistan.
DRDC is a DND agency that responds to the scientific and technological needs of the CF, ensuring that the Forces remain scientifically and operationally relevant, as per the Canada Defence First Strategy. DRDC’sVBS2 training directly impacts CF personnel and their ability to effectively respond to challenges at home and abroad.
For more information, contact the project coordinator at dorothy.wojtarowicz @forces.gc.ca.