Strategy Page has a story on yet another electronic simulation being used to train US troops. This one focuses on intel gathering:
Combat troops play the game by moving their game characters through realistic Iraqi locations. When they finish the patrol, the game tells them what they missed, and why it was important. The game is something along the lines of the traditional “dungeon crawl,” where the players have ample opportunity to check out potentially useful items, and thus improve their situations. In the intelligence game, troops that report a lot of useful information are rewarded with a high score and other positive feedback. Originally, the army was going to release the game to the public, just like it has other training games based on commercial gaming technology (“America’s Army” and “Full Spectrum Warrior” being the best examples.) But the intel people noted that the game could teach the wrong people about American intelligence collecting and analysis methods, and better enable them to deceive sharp eyed troops.
Intel is always a huge part of successful military operations, but even more so in the current low-intensity conflict in Iraq. We cannot simply devote more firepower to the situation, though that’s still called for in many cases.
I happen to be a big fan of video game training methods, though they obviously cannot replace more-traditional methods for many things.
But video games will probably be more well-received by the troops, most of which will already be experienced gamers. Once developed, they’re relatively cheap to distribute widely, and the troops can train wherever they are–no trips to training centers or large gatherings with dedicated training staffs required.
So much of what our military does is based on high-tech equipment already. It only makes sense that training methods are, as well. I think this is just another sign that the military is learning lessons and working to overcome deficiencies.