Royal Marines have trialled the use of virtual reality technology to sharpen combat tactics and techniques.
Courtesy Royal Navy
Marines from 40 Commando’s Alpha Company experimented with the SAF-TAC VR training programme developed by SimCentric, which is able to take commandos into challenging virtual combat scenarios around the world at the press of a button.
The immersive software creates an artificial environment specifically for military simulation and training using virtual reality headsets.
It allows users to construct virtual scenarios for specific operations and gives feedback to analyse the success of each serial.
The use of the software is to support real-life training, not replace it.
It’s all part of Future Commando Force development and allows marines to focus on important tactics and techniques as part of the bold modernisation, before using them in real-life training exercises.
A Royal Marines spokesperson said: “It's incredibly real, so real that you sort of lose all situational awareness of the outside and you're solely focused on the moment that you're in.
“It takes a bit of time to get used to but I suppose being part of the video game generation, we’re fairly used to using screens and things like that. It may be a little bit nauseous towards the end but after a little bit of time it was absolutely fine.
“It's realistic and that's what we need to train for. It’s that realism, that real world application.”
The system supports close combat and vehicle training. It can be easily adapted to bring in new environments and situations to challenge the users, taking them across various terrains with different objectives.
SimCentric’s Vice President Tom Constable, said: “This is not about replacing that real life training - real life training should always be the go-to option.
“However, as we've seen and as we know and I know, it's not always the case. You can't always go and do that live training.
“There's a lot of logistical and funding constraints associated with live training. What we're trying to do is provide the next best option and using feedback from the troops we can keep on refining this to assure that when they can't do the live training they've got as good an option we can provide.”
During the trials at 40 Commando's Norton Manor Camp, the marines used the VR to train in manoeuvring in small teams.
A Royal Marines spokesperson added: “We rolled out initially just doing basic skills and drills, shooting down a range of various weapons system, getting to know the system before rolling out into a more tactical scenario where we assaulted a house as a 12-man team. It's a chance for the lads to shakeout and do different tactics and exercise different elements of command and control.
“We're trialling this new 12-man team concepts as part of the Future Commando Force concept for the Royal Marines and it's just about trialling new tactics on the ground, low level tactics and how we manoeuvre as a 12-man team.
“If you get a mission set or a target pack, you can plug it into the system and go through a few drills before you go into target. It’s great to use on camp as well, even sort of the allocation of training resource is in the military. If we can't get access to a range or a training area, then having it in our own back garden is pretty useful.”