(H/T TCC Feed on Twitter)
Despite the usefulness associated with virtual training, everyone in the military knows that there is no replacement for real training. Commanders frequently say that units have to “train as you fight.” Additionally, virtual reality cannot mimic the Murphy’s Law associated with even simple tasks such as starting and maintaining a vehicle, or ensuring that one has good communications with higher headquarters. Nonetheless, scenarios conducted in virtual reality have their allure because they can be good for the military’s budget. No real jet fuel, ammunition or equipment is consumed. Moreover, there are some lessons that can be imparted in virtual reality that pay dividends in reality. For example, pilots in training are often required to spend hours in virtual scenarios in order to become accustomed to flight controls. For this reason, most of the cutting-edge virtual reality technology is in training pilots.
Video games are being used by the military not just to recruit and train soldiers for conventional skills, but also to help soldiers to learn cultural sensitivity and to help soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Virtual reality is used not just at the tactical level but also at the strategic level. In 2002 the military ran an exercise, Millennium Challenge, which involved both virtual reality and live exercises. This blend of reality and video game sought to simulate the United States fighting a Middle East adversary, presumably Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. As chronicled in Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink,” the exercise was halted and the rules of the game altered in order to favor the United States military. Most likely, the $250 million exercise was used as a study for an actual war.