The South African Army is investigating the merits of force-on-force training at the tactical level. The military last September awarded SAAB Systems Grintek (SSG) a R1.89 million six months contract to lease live simulation equipment for force-on force training.
The investigation into the use of live simulation is in accordance with the general global trend, says SSG executive manager SA sales & marketing Ockert van der Schyf. “Live simulation allows soldiers to train using combat equipment in a real environment and a live opposing force” in a way that makes training more realistic, especially in terms of musketry, field craft, first aid, leadership , battle drills and conduct under directed enemy fire. “Additional advantages are cost saving, low environmental impact and enabling all data to be captured for a comprehensive after action review.”
Simulation can be broadly categorised into three specialist areas: constructive simulation, virtual simulation and live simulation. The South African National Defence Force has been using constructive and virtual simulation as training enhancers for over a decade, Van der Schyf adds, normally at the company level and above.
The SANDF is now broadening the scope of simulation as a training and mission readiness enhancer by investigating the live simulation domain down to the individual soldier level. “The Force-on-Force simulation project is a feasibility study on the potential use of live simulation as a training enhancer in the SANDF. The end goal of the study is to determine if live simulation is requirement in the SANDF training environment and if so, to determine the SANDF-specific requirements of a live simulation system.”
After an open tender, SAAB Training System’s Gamer Manpack was selected for the feasibility study. Locally, SAAB Systems Grintek’s C4I (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence) division managed the project.
“The Gamer system delivered for the duration of the project consists of 44 sets of soldier jackets and small calibre laser attachments. The equipment is enough to support a platoon of infantry with a section of opposing forces. These sets are tracked and monitored by the Gamer Manpack, a mobile computer and VHF radio that collects and stores all data per individual. This data can be compiled into a comprehensive AAR (After Action Review) and a playback of the event can be viewed in a virtual environment,” Van der Schyf adds.
To date, three sets of exercises have been held in Bloemfontein using troops from 1 Parachute Regiment.
The SAAB Training Systems Gamer is used globally. In the Netherlands it supports a fully instrumented Combat Training Centre. Other notable users are the United Kingdom and United States Marine Corps.
With the wide spectrum of simulation products available as training enhancers, the next step will be the integration of Constructive, Virtual and Live simulation domains as an important tool in the training and mission readiness cycle, Van der Schyf says.
Pic: 44 Para troops using the Gamer. Note the sensor band fitted to their helmets as well as the blank-firing device fitted to the barrel of the R4 assault rifle.