No matter how much a solider trains to handle a situation, the real world always throws something unexpected. This is especially true in the war on terrorism where soldiers have to defend against covert forces that have no consistent mode of attack. To better prepare its troops to respond to the unanticipated, the U.S. military now employs immersive computer simulators that provide a game-like interaction for both individuals and groups.
The group simulators have probably made the biggest difference in the war on terrorism. Soldiers are in a room together wearing virtual reality gear over their eyes and handling equipment such as turrets, rifles and steering wheels. All the gear and equipment is plugged into the simulator, which feeds the soldiers the variables of the simulation and, in turn, responds to the soldiers' movements.
In one simulator called the Virtual Convoy Operations Trainer (VCOT), a team of soldiers, each in different roles, handles certain scenarios as they travel in a virtual convoy. VCOT trains troops to communicate and work together when the virtual terrorists put them in an unplanned combat scenario. The Future Immersive Training Environment (FITE) takes the battle out of the convoy, training infantry to work together during ground combat. FITE simulates sights, sounds and even smells of a Middle East war zone [source: Pellerin].
For more details on this immersive military training, see our article on How Virtual Reality Military Applications Work.
The innovations we've covered in this article are just a small set of amazing technologies that have improved our defense in the ongoing war on terrorism. March on to the next page for lots more information on the technology used in the war on terrorism.