Support: Road Warriors Play Games


March 12, 2009: Join the IED (improvised explosive device) of the Week Club. One of the many tools developed over the last five years, to deal with roadside bombs, and similar dangers encountered while travelling, was the convoy simulator. These computer games came in many forms, but the easiest to deal with looked just like a commercial, FPS (first person shooter) game.

For example, the U.S. Department of Defense has a team of programmers who turn out new scenarios for a video game (based on the Virtual Battlespace 2 game engine) that simulates a convoy moving through a hostile (there are IEDs and ambushes likely) stretch of road. The game, and the scenarios, are free to the troops. But the most important aspect of this is that the individual scenarios are based on actual events in Iraq and Afghanistan. The programmers get recent after-action reports from incidents featuring IEDs, and basically recreate the incident in a Virtual Battlespace 2 scenario. These scenarios (which are unclassified) are stored on a server only accessible to U.S. military personnel, and can be freely downloaded and used. Some troops use the game, and these scenarios, for training sessions, but many play them out on their own time. It's entertaining, and educational at the same time. Plus, it might save your life. The scenarios can also be played on a network, with up to ten players (representing both friendly and enemy forces.)

Creating scenarios for wargames is nothing new. It's been going on for half a century, and military personnel have been doing it for longer than that (when preparing contingency plans). But being able to use a few mouse clicks to load a new scenario (with new terrain and new enemy weapons and tactics), and then test yourself against it, that is a major leap forward. It's been a significant factor in reducing IED casualties, and a very quick and efficient way to distribute information on new enemy tactics.


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