Tisha Swart-Entwistle | Combined Arms Center – Training Public Affairs
The National Simulation Center’s Training and Doctrine Command Proponent Office-Virtual and Gaming has been working on solutions to some imminent training capability gaps related to fielding future Synthetic Training Environment capabilities.
TPO-Virtual and Gaming Director Lt. Col. Mike Stinchfield said that Army training is in a period of modernization and transitioning from old capabilities to new capabilities.
Stinchfield said the first training capability gap affects vehicle convoy training previously supported by the Reconfigurable Vehicle Tactical Trainer. The RVTT, with its late 1990s technology, has already been reduced to two locations and is set to be replaced with STE Reconfigurable Virtual Collective Trainers. Until the RVCTs have been produced and distributed, Stinchfield and his team are working on bridging solutions using Virtual Battlespace 3.
VBS3 is the Army’s “Games for Training” 3D first-person training simulation. The semi-immersive, visually-rich simulation environment was initially made available to the Army in 2009 as VBS2, and in 2014 the Army began using VBS3.
Many soldiers might be familiar with VBS3 because of its use in virtual staff rides. Stinchfield said VBS3 is relatively inexpensive and already exists at 119 sites across the Army.
“The GFT Bridge is really an effort to maintain that capability that is easy to access and easy to use through the transition, through modernization,” Stinchfield said. “What it bridges to is the STE software, which will bring a better version of the same type of capability to the Army.”
Stinchfield said that there are already several examples where units have used VBS and added commercial, off-the-shelf hardware and created a more immersive simulator type system.
“We actually encourage that,” Stinchfield said. “The software is actually very flexible in terms of its ability to handle a variety of the input devices, whether that’s steering wheels or joysticks or gunner handles.”
The flexibility of the VBS software is another reason it is the right answer for a bridge, Stinchfield said.
Stinchfield’ s team is currently working on adapting VBS for RVTT to demonstrate the flexibility of the software.
“This will be our first effort to do a technical demonstration of how that can be done with VBS,” Stinchfield said. “We will do a demonstration here at Fort Leavenworth and then we will provide information about how we did that so home stations can do that on their own.”
Stinchfield said commanders would really be surprised how much VBS can meet their training objectives.
“Virtual battlespace is an incredibly powerful tool that commanders should learn how to leverage,” Stinchfield said. “It can meet many of their collective training requirements — as a rehearsal tool or even a planning tool.”
For more information on VBS and the GFT bridge, call the TPOs Games For Training lead officer, Maj. Matt Gordon, at (913) 684-8227.