October 30, 2010:
U.S. Army combat training simulations continue to take advantage of new technology. These include systems which enable trainers to quickly construct 3-D simulations troops can engage in via PCs. These are first person shooter (FPS) type systems, using a local network. But a trainer can control the actions of the enemy forces, and every move of the trainee troops is recorded for the after-action briefing. This is the most valuable part of the exercise, because the trainer points out, in detail, what troops did right. The flexibility of these games make it easy to adapt them to the special needs of infantry ("grunts") or support troops ("fobbits").
But the best training is when troops are in battle gear and carrying a rifle. There is now equipment available to run these exercises, using movie-like props to quickly set up the scene, and actors dressed and speaking languages found in the combat zone. Like the PC based simulator, this one tracks what everyone did (movement as well as firing laser equipped weapons). Realistic sound effects, including explosions, are available. Again, the after-action briefing is the most interesting part of the exercise, except this time the trainees are all sweaty and still have ringing in their ears from all the noise. But no one gets killed making mistakes, and that's a lesson that can save your life when you do it for real.