Dutch Military prepares for Room Clearing with RE-liON’s VR solution
Room clearing – also named close quarter battle (CQB) or close quarter combat (CQC) – is one of the hardest indoor tasks when operating in urban environments. Spaces are confined, movement is very restricted and people you run into are friendly or hostile and you need to decide in a fraction of a second.
To prepare for these missions, the Dutch Military is training their units in mockup environments shooting with FX, UTM, Airsoft or live ammunition, throwing flash bangs and breaching doors using explosives.
Force-on-force role play is limited and requires thick protective clothing (FX/UTM/Airsoft). Training with live ammunition is after all not possible. Thick protective clothing reduces the possibility to read peoples’ body language and thus their intent. The ‘look’ of role play is also a given as they are often your team mates that cannot suddenly change their physical appearance while training with elderly, young kids, etc is not allowed. When role play is impossible, static pictures are often used to depict hostile forces.
Another challenge is occupational disease: blast in confined spaces leads to traumatic brain injury (TBI) not to mention getting hit by projectiles from ammunition and other explosives. In the US alone, 450.000 service members were diagnosed with TBI in the period between 2000 and 2021. The total number of active service members is 1.4 million. This is relevant as our workforce is limited and training operators into highly skilled operators is a massive investment.
In room clearing, the opposing force decides how the situation plays out. When the opposing force as well as the surroundings are static and limited, one can doubt the practicality of what so called ‘realistic training’. In reality, you are only stimulating the ‘act’ stage (physical/technical skills) instead of the full OODA loop.
Although field training exercises (FTX) are still the preferred way of training in many militaries and it’s considered ‘realistic training’, the Netherlands Ministry of Defense choose to look for more flexible ways to help out.
Together with the Army Simulation Center, RE-liON developed a mobile training solution leveraging Virtual Reality. Resulting in a blend of supported/autonomous training on squad level, small units can now train 2-4-8 and 12-person SOPs. Variety and complexity are tailored to objective measurements of task performance. This is what we call measurably skilled.
The units are facilitated by a mobile training team (MTT) at their desired location. Setup time once the MTT arrives is 1 hour and requires only 2 persons and an empty space.
To ensure efficiency, the trainer can, in real time, adjust training complexity using the academy kit which allows easy addition or removal of computer-generated role plays. They can also adjust visibility, add sound stressors and switch between training environments within one minute.
This setup is in operational use since 2017 and resulted in more efficient use of training time and improvement of full OOD(A) loop stimulation while preparing.