DEFENCE RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY
ilitary training has gone through repeated evolutions,arguably along two lines of development – tactical/operational-level training and campaign simulation. Sinceancient times, warriors have practised their tactical skills – fromwrestling and play-ﬁghting with wooden weapons to the use today oflow-power lasers and sensors to determine accuracy and effectivenessboth individually and in formations.At the strategic end of the training equation, games such as chessand draughts through to the ‘staff rides’ of the von Clausewitz and VonMoltke era, sand tables, role playing and ‘big data’ strategic simulationhave sought to test brain as opposed to brawn in the military arts with theaim of ensuring readiness. This article is concerned with two issues. First,in an environment of scarce resources approaching the end of militarycampaigns in the Middle East and Asia, how will military training adapt?Second, given the interest in harnessing ‘the video-game generation’, isthere too heavy a reliance on computer-based training and simulation?Tactical training that is both the practise and use of weapons andskills to overcome local military challenges has a very long history. Forthe knights of the middle ages, peacetime training was relatively cheapto pursue, given that the ﬁxed costs of operations – horses, armour,weaponry – were already accounted for and in-service support costs
Games Armies Play
Dr Jeffrey Peter Bradford
looks into the importance of simulation and training, and thedifference between these two critical military activities
tended to be borne by the fact that the knight was, in a business sense,vertically integrated (in other words, he invariably owned the means ofproducing and supporting his arsenal).Fast forward half a millennium, and the situation is far more com-plex and indeed expensive. Weapons, equipment, the physical environ-ment, air component computers, electronics and C4ISTAR mean that atactical/operational training environment can and has to have multipleelements to make it realistic and worthwhile, which is very expensive.As defence budgets contract in the run-up to the end of medium-scaleoperations in the Middle East and Asia, the temptation will obviouslybe to restrict training to preserve where possible personnel levels, plat-forms, investment and research and development.In the twentieth century, the interwar period saw dramatic reduc-tions in investment for military training, spurred by a societal antipathyin many cases to conﬂict following the devastating losses of the FirstWorld War. When military exercises occurred they often involved, at thetactical level, soldiers on bicycles practising their formations, saying“bang” instead of ﬁring real ordnance. It is an oft-ignored fact that theperfection of the German armoured ‘blitzkreig’ was initially learnt andperfected by men on bicycles, farm tractors and light trucks as opposedto Panzer tanks and costly large-scale manoeuvres.
A soldier being trained to use ahelmet-mounted virtual display
M A J P E N N Y Z A M O R A / U S A R M Y