British soldiers hosting a company of Canadian Army reservists used a tried and tested unit-based virtual training service to overcome any transatlantic differences in tactics, techniques and procedures.
Ahead of deploying onto Salisbury Plain for a multinational exercise, personnel from 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers plugged their visitors into NSC’s JCOVE [Joint Combat Operations Virtual Environment] trainer for a digital tour of the expansive training area.
The innovative simulation system allowed members of the dismounted Canadian unit to collectively experience the tactics employed when operating alongside the Fusiliers’ fleet of Warrior armoured fighting vehicles.
Run on a network of portable laptop computers set up in a classroom at Tidworth and featuring an authentic emulation of Salisbury Plain’s terrain, the first-person virtual environment enabled the allies to fully exploit their time together in the field.
“We used JCOVE as part of the build-up training to the exercise,” explained Maj Robin Hicks, officer commanding Z Company, 1 RRF. “Doing so helped us to maximise our time on live training. Rehearsing our tactics, techniques and procedures and sharing leadership lessons in a virtual environment meant we got the best bang for our buck when we got out on exercise.”
The advantages afforded by the unit-based virtual trainer and an experienced delivery team comprised of former Service personnel who “speak the military language” were also clear to Maj Hicks’ Canadian counterpart.
Capt Ricardo Manmohan, officer commanding A Company, Royal Westminster Regiment, added: “We are a dismounted unit so it is new to a lot of our troops to be mechanised and able to roll right up to a position instead of marching for ten kilometres and then attacking a position. We used [JCOVE] to get an understanding of how that works.
“I thought the system was great. It gives you an appreciation of the limitations of visibility you have in a vehicle – the fog of war. I love how the dust kicks up and you can’t see anything and make any calls as to what’s going on around you. The system exposes you to what can happen to your command and control.”
Although new to Canadian personnel, JCOVE is a familiar training tool to the British Army having originally been introduced to the ranks in 2007 as a means of practising vehicle convoy drills.
Later adapted to ready personnel for operations in Helmand province, the system continues to play a role in the development of UK Regular and Reserve troops and has to date been used by more than 16,000 soldiers and delivered in excess of 300 weeks of training at more than 72 unit locations.
Having experienced the system first-hand, Capt Manmohan said the British Army’s enduring relationship with JCOVE was understandable.
“I feel strongly that the simulation side [of training] will help save lives overseas,” the Canadian officer concluded. “I see it as having huge value – it increases the confidence of my troops to deal with certain situations and increases communication between key leadership positions.”