By Dave Anderson
The mission of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) G-2 Gaming and Visualizations Division (GVD) is to customize gaming technologies to produce visualizations and virtual practical exercises and applications to support leader development, training, education, and force development—thus maximizing Soldiers’ perception of the virtual operational environment. GVD is essentially a one-stop shop to accomplish this mission, with core specialties in three-dimensional modeling, game programming, and terrain development, and a professional videography team to produce the visualizations. It uses Virtual Battlespace 3 (VBS3) as the main source medium for visualization training products. GVD discovered that it could produce the visualizations faster and cheaper using VBS3 compared to live-action filming.
But why produce visualizations? The first reason is to communicate complex ideas and concepts in a more efficient and accessible way than traditional methods. For example, GVD has worked with numerous senior leaders to produce these strategic-level visualizations to introduce new concepts to the force, such as multi-domain operations, cross-domain maneuver, and cyberspace and electromagnetic activities. Next is to illustrate new or complex equipment and capabilities, with the infantry brigade combat team to 2028—developed for the Maneuver Center of Excellence—being the latest example. Another reason is to create conditions for leader development and discussion using lessons-learned visualizations like Command Observation Post Keating. Visualizations also create a clear reference point, giving coherence and immutability to the message. Finally, modern Soldiers and civilians increasingly expect this interactive and visual medium instead of more traditional products.
GVD is currently working with the Center for Initial Military Training to produce visualizations based upon Soldier Training Publication (STP) 21-2-SMCT, Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks, Warrior Skills, Level 1. These 62 tasks are the core elements that every Soldier is required to know and are essential to the Army’s ability to win on the modern battlefield. GVD has produced 16 of these visualizations, which give instructors a new and more engaging way to present these required tasks.
For virtual trainers and applications, GVD looks at the various programs of instruction to see if there are any gaps in training. If a gap is identified, the organization then determines if a gaming solution is well suited to fill that gap. For land navigation, GVD found that the Army was not confirming the students’ understanding and proper execution of the basics before testing them in a live exercise. GVD determined that the Army would be able to test students’ performance of the land navigation elements in a virtual/gaming environment, correcting any issues before sending them out for a live exercise. The GVD Land Navigation trainer, built on the VBS3 platform, is its most successful game-based trainer, with over 20 custom courses available. The organization has built at least one custom terrain for every Center of Excellence, several mobilization training centers (MTCs), West Point, and a few Reserve Officer Training Corps units. As an example of the effectiveness of this training, an MTC was having an unacceptable first-time “no-go” rate on land navigation training. GVD developed a custom course for the MTC that was integrated into the program of instruction, after which the MTC’s no-go rate approached zero percent.
One of the VBS trainer’s limitations is that it requires access to a simulation center with VBS installed. To resolve this issue, GVD developed the OEGames Land Navigation trainer. This web-based trainer is publicly available (no common access card required) and runs the user through a virtual land navigation course, reinforcing all of the core elements of basic land navigation. Finally, at the request of the TRADOC Commanding General, GVD developed a tablet-based version of the OEGames Land Navigation trainer. This trainer was built for the Fort Jackson, SC initial entry training and is available to the public on both Android and Apple mobile platforms.
GVD visualizations and virtual practical exercises are not meant to replace the Soldier’s live training exercises or core classroom instruction; rather, they use blended learning to augment these forms of training. They give Soldiers a way to further familiarize themselves with a given task using a visual representation, thus removing fear of the unknown and making the live training event that much more effective.
The following are links to GVD information and select trainers:
For more information, or support from TRADOC G-2, please contact Angela M. Williams, email@example.com Produced by the US Army TRADOC G-2 Operational Environment and Threat Analysis Directorate