Videogame makes ‘every Soldier a sensor’
By Spc. Julia Simpkins/The Leader
FORT JACKSON, S.C. (TRADOC News Service, April 8, 2005) – Keeping up with trends on the ever-changing battlefield, the Army is looking to improve training for its newest Soldiers.
The ES3 videogame software, sponsored by the Department of the Army intelligence office, called G-2, is being tested by Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Jackson to determine if the software enhances the training of new Soldiers. The Fort Jackson pilot is being run by 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 1st Basic Combat Training Brigade.
ES3, also called Every Soldier a Sensor, is a computer-generated simulation that is designed to increase a Soldier’s situational awareness on the battlefield. Using a patrol scenario in an urban environment, styled after cities in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, ES3 trains Soldiers to actively scan and observe their environment for details related to Commanders’ Critical Information Requirements indicators and report or act in a concise and accurate manner.
“We’ve been wrestling for a while with how to get at training Soldiers as sensors for the asymmetrical battlefield – how to increase their awareness,” said Col. Jay W. Chambers Jr., commander of 1st BCT Bde. “Over the last six to eight months, we have been trying new hands-on type training to get at this. However, when we went to the initial-entry-training commanders’ conference in January, there was a demonstration of gaming technology that included the software program ES3. It got my attention because I thought it might be a digital capability that connects with our new Soldiers and enhances our hands-on field training.”
Translating digital information, Chambers said, is a skill today’s young people are familiar with because of the multimedia, digitally integrated environment they’ve grown up with and encountered every day. He used his own son as an example.
“My 17-year-old son can be doing his physics homework, writing instant messages to his friends on the computer, watching a football game on TV and listening to loud music at the same time,” Chambers said. “When I come into the room, I see chaos, but to him it’s normal; he’s keeping up with it all – he can tell me what the football score is, who and what he’s talking about to his friends, mouth the words of the song playing, and is doing his physics – and he knows what song is on – all at once. A lot of young people are like that. They’re multi-taskers without even knowing it. That’s what we want to tap into.”
The program – used to enhance the hands-on, Every Soldier as a Sensor field training – has potential for use as a BCT training aid, Chambers thinks, and may be a new trend of training IET Soldiers Army-wide.
“We’ll never be able to replace live training, and we wouldn’t want to,” he said. “But with this method, we’ll be able to create within our Soldiers an unconscious competence – the ability to be trained to a level where they act and react without thinking about things; they’re always scanning, looking for changes, always alert and ready, doing the right things. They have been trained that they are a sensor and an intelligence collector trained to see things out there that will help protect the force. Basic combat training is the best environment for this kind of training because we can control and adjust the variables for the Soldiers to have to detect and act and react upon.”
Though use of ES3 is in its infancy as a training aid, Chambers said he has “a good feeling” about its use and potential.
“My gut tells me we’re onto something – a new approach to training Soldiers in BCT in skill sets we know are needed on the battlefield,” he said. “I’m pretty optimistic the results will come back in a positive manner – situational acuity we sometimes learn from experience can be painful.”