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Virtual Battlefield System One, a fully interactive, three-dimensional training application, provides a premium synthetic environment in which small unit tactics may be practiced among team members. Simulations like this photo-realistic scenario, specialized tactics and variable environmental conditions to enhance the team training experience. This system is the first modified deployable virtual training environment simulation since the initial push for the technology in 2001 by the technology division, Training and Education Command. U.S. Marine Corps courtesy photo
Simulations Prepare Marine Corps for War
By U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Donald Bohanner

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va., Dec. 2, 2004 – From the fire team level to the Marine Expeditionary Force level, Training and Education Command continues to give Marines the option to use virtual combat training at any time and place courtesy of personal computer-based games called tactical decision-making simulations.

Since 1995, the command has been developing these and other types of simulations. “Each year the number of simulations that make up the tool kit have increased, resulting in a robust training option for Marine Corps units,” said Capt. Erik Jilson, technology division, Training and Education Command.

"The simulation cannot be allowed to become a ‘game’ or it will lose its training value. A facilitator must be there to ensure the mission is executed correctly. This is the most important part of the exercise."
U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Erik Jilson

Today, the Marine Corps continues to be on the forefront of training through the leverage of gaming technology, according to the Marine Corps’ tactical decision-making simulation tool-kit, a list of simulations from staff trainers to vehicle recognition programs.

The tool-kit does not have a final list of applications and continues to change as new applications are developed and added.

“Currently, (tactical decision-making simulations) are run mainly at simulation centers on bases around the Corps, the School of Infantry East and West and the Expeditionary Warfare School,” said Jilson. “Many different units can utilize the simulation centers for training with (the simulations).”

In addition to the simulation centers, there are also tactical decision-making simulations that have unlimited distribution rights and can be copied and passed on.

The simulations have also been passed out in issues of the Marine Corps Gazette and with the Staff Non-Commissioned Offices Non-resident Course through Navy/Marine Corps Intranet.

According to the tactical decision-making simulations tool-kit, each military occupational specialty in the Marine Corps training standards lists whether simulations can be used to satisfy the requirements of its individual training standards. If simulations can be used, a list of the approved simulations is included.

“The Marine Corps’ training focus has always been on live-fire events,” said Jilson. “But nothing provides a closer training environment to actual combat (than the tactical decision-making simulations).”

“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.

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