Synthetic Training Environments

Image from USC Institute for Creative Technologies — in partnership with US Army Research Lab (ARL) — [click for video]

Image from USC Institute for Creative Technologies — in partnership with US Army Research Lab (ARL) — [click for video]

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) — Twentynine Palms , CA: Photo by Lance Cpl. Hailey Clay

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) — Twentynine Palms, CA: Photo by Lance Cpl. Hailey Clay

In order to accommodate the triad of an optimal Synthetic Training Environment model for Army training, putative LIVE terrain is utilized in the matrix of MOUT Sites that populate the nation. To augment the reality of real-world locations, the sites must accommodate not only a built presence and supportive infrastructure, but they must also accommodate a human infrastructure.

The human capital that supports these pseudo-cities is what I would argue grew the most over successive failures in the Global War on Terror.  It was the role-players, opposing forces (OPFOR), and human intelligence applied to these void spaces that catalyzed their urbanization and replication; particularly in the American west, as the arid climate most closely resembles its deployment doppelgangers of the Middle-East. As the campaigns charged by the U.S. and NATO allies steered towards peacekeeping amid the fragile states they occupied, the focus for some years in the region was geared toward winning ‘hearts and minds’ of its people, and supporting their restructuring through efforts like building local infrastructure. This involved practicing key-leader engagement, civilians on the battlefield, and clearly identifying enemy insurgents. Training for these types of events involved the synthetic training environments hosting their own human infrastructure; where soldiers and marines would be stressed to make informed critical decisions in a deployment simulation scenario before ever setting foot in country. These methods leave significant room for debate on the value of immersion in such a pseudo-city environment. How LIVE is it?