level and as a visualization tool for understanding the terrain
and environment in an area of operations.
The system’s reach expands to situations outside of the traditional battlefield as well. The 705th Military Police Battalion, which has responsibilities at the Midwest Joint Regional
Correctional Facility, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, used the
system for its training purposes. When looking over their
budget for fiscal year 2014, battalion leaders had to deal with
significant training cuts, forcing them to find alternatives
for education. Lt. Col. Rolanda Colbert, USA, the battalion
commander, says that VBS offered a viable option. It also
gave the VBS 3 program a novel opportunity because it was
accustomed to working with combat units. “This was a win-win for both of us,” Col. Colbert says. In December 2013, the
unit ran an exercise with VBS 2. Then in April 2014, it took
advantage of the rollout of VBS 3, which had not been available yet for the previous event. Capt. Christopher Anderson,
USA, battalion S- 6 and S- 2, says his organization found VBS
3 more beneficial.
The virtual environment offered through the simulation
allowed the military police to be more creative in the scenarios it ran. It also enabled the unit members to conduct
their training without disturbing the routines of the inmates.
Performing a full-blown training exercise in the prison facility would impact inmate movements and other factors.
Col. Colbert says she definitely saw the advantage of
the virtual environment in this regard. Furthermore, the
observation tools were of utmost importance, she adds.
They allow leaders to see exactly what troops are doing and
review decisions with them. Observers can pause and go
back in time to show trainees what they might have missed
in the moment. Though they have an eagle-eye view of all
activity, they also can zoom in to focus on an individual.
The capabilities provide leadership the chance to look
through policies and procedures.
Through the training, the unit was able to validate its
standard operating procedures. By freezing in time, leadership could determine and show team members where operations started to go wrong and follow the chain of events
from a decision.
Another benefit specific to VBS 3 is the exact terrain
modeling. The colonel says moving from real to virtual
was almost seamless because of the level of reality of the
simulation. “I know what’s around this corner because I see
it every day,” she says by way of example. Her battalion did
not include pulling in the physical details for each soldier,
but may do so in the future, as physical training plays an
important role in corrections. “I definitely think [VBS] 3 is
light-years beyond 2,” Col. Colbert says.
A challenge to using the system was familiarizing sol-
diers with the computer controls. However, Col. Colbert
expects improvement with more usage. Personnel at PEO
STRI explain that soldiers are given laminated cards with
the keyboard and mouse controls before sitting down at the
computers. In the 705th’s case, a situation arose in which
they were unable to complete their full tutorial. Both the
colonel and captain believe the system can be picked up
quickly. Some soldiers went through VBS 2 and 3, and they
were able to transfer a portion of the skills from one system
to the other. Col. Colbert says if they had time to do the full
tutorial, execution would have been easier, but even without
that, many of the troops are computer savvy and knew what
buttons to push.
The younger soldiers, in particular, enjoy having an avatar
run around. “It’s pretty neat to watch,” the commander says.
Having soldiers motivated to train benefits the unit, which
intends to use the system more in the future.
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