“Live-fire training events come with a high price tag in the form of money, risks, logistics and time,” said Jilson. “Because of this, tactical decision-making simulations is one of the resources available to provide the same effective training without the risks. Research has also shown that there is effective training transfer when simulations are used to augment live training. In other words, when they are taught a new skill, they learn that skill better.”
The push for Marine Corps simulations occurred in 2001 with a research project initiated by the technology division at Training and Education Command to investigate technologies to create a Deployable Virtual Training Environment for Marines.
The two commercial games that were modified were Operation Flashpoint, a first-person shooter game geared toward combat training for junior non-commissioned officers and junior officers.
It was recently renamed Virtual Battlefield System One and is now included in several Marine Corps Military Operations in Urban Terrain facilities, Schools of Infantry and simulation centers setup throughout the Marine Corps.
The other simulation that was adopted is called Close Combat. The intended use was for the slightly higher-ranking noncommissioned officers, staff noncommissioned officers and officers.
“There are a number of new simulations that are being developed now,” said Jilson. “Deployable Virtual Training Environment, First to Fight and Joint Tactical Air Control are just a few.”
According to the tactical decision-making simulation tool-kit, scenario implementation in a simulation is not constrained by weather, logistics shortfalls or lack of unit funds. It also allows for multiple runs through a scenario in the same time that it may take to run one live scenario.
“The simulations are geared toward areas like command and control, combat, logistics, engineering and anti-terrorism,” Jilson said.
According to the tool-kit, the use of simulations for training is a new concept to many Marines. There must be a training facilitator present for live or simulated training to maintain control.
“The simulation cannot be allowed to become a ‘game’ or it will lose its training value,” said Jilson. “A facilitator must be there to ensure the mission is executed correctly. This is the most important part of the exercise.”
“By applying the standard Marine Corps approach to training in tactical decision-making simulations, effective training can be realized and Marines can be better prepared for live training events,” said Jilson.