Infantry: Sim In A Can


October 11,2008:  A Swedish firm (SAAB) has developed a portable "electronic battlefield", by creating a portable (three 40 foot shipping containers) version. This DTES (Deployable Tactical Engagement Simulation)  provides training for a company sized (200 troops) unit. Several countries are buying this "sim in a can".

The United States Army revolutionized the training of ground combat troops in the 1980s with the development of MILES (laser tag) equipment for infantry and armored vehicles, and the use of MILES in a large, "wired" (to record all activities) NTC (National Training Center). Other countries soon realized the importance of these innovations and a few built their own NTC clones. One of the best of these is in Israel, the Tactical Training Center (TTC) at Ze'elim. In addition to wide open areas for the training of armor, infantry and artillery units, there are several villages and urban areas wired for training troops to fight in close quarters.

Twenty years after the U.S. Army started using its revolutionary National Training Center (NTC) to give troops combat experience in peacetime, China is opened its own version. The Chinese NTC is larger than the U.S. one (359,000 acres in the Mohave desert at Ft Irwin, California.) The Chinese center is to be used for training divisions, while the U.S. one trains only a brigade at a time.

The SAAB version enables troops to quickly get very realistic training in urban warfare situations, as well as dealing with roadside bombs, and booby traps IEDs, or improvised explosive devices) in general. The SAAB DTES  uses the network of sensors deployed around the training area, and on the troops and vehicles, to provide a very realistic IED training. For example, the DTES staff use typical military training explosive devices (which are big on the bang and smoke, but not much harmful blast or fragments) to simulate the IED going off, then use their sensors and the exercise computer, to immediately calculate the damage to vehicles and troops close enough to the exercise to be killed or injured. If the OPFOR (opposing force) troops are also staging an ambush (as is common in Iraq and Afghanistan), the troops get a very intense few minutes of realistic (but non-fatal) training. DTES uses the same techniques when training troops to be wary of IEDs in an urban area, or even buildings.

DTES was developed with off-the-shelf technology, including some very clever adaptations of paintball weapons, sensors and simulation software. Another SAAB innovation is to lease the system out on a per-exercise basis. For many smaller nations, that's cheaper than buying a DTES, and not using it all that often. But even for large nations, that want to keep troops overseas, perhaps on peacekeeping duty, ready for trouble, leasing DTES for some exercises on the spot, is cheap and effective.






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