Dutch Military uses VR to better prepare their units for Urban Operations
Like most armies, the Royal Netherlands Army and the Royal Dutch Marine Corps face, tremendous difficulties in fitting their mandatory training program in their busy schedules. Especially when training for Urban Operations, travel to training centers, moving between locations, setup time of exercises, limits on working hours due to labor laws and having to wait when darkness falls to train night operations are common elements to take into consideration. Finally, safety regulations and logistics of food-, fuel- and ammunition are make systematic training nearly impossible. This, while training resources are scarce and limited in variety (Western European style).
Although field training exercises (FTX) is still the ultimate way of training in many militaries and it’s still considered ‘realistic training’, the Netherlands Ministry of Defense decided to collaborate with RE-liON and apply VR as a solution to their challenge.
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. 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. While most exercises require less space, training of urban movement (the outdoor part of urban operation that also involves jumping from building to building) calls for a minimum space of 30×30 meters.
For more background on how RE-liON supports room clearing in VR, one of the indoor tasks of urban operations, see this page.
The VR Urban Operations training solution RE-liON developed for the Dutch Army is operational and in use since 2017. It complies with STANAG 2593, the NATO standard on Training & Education for Urban Operations. Through many years of positive experience, the Dutch Military’s best-practice is for units to train cognitive skills in VR half of the day while the other half is spent on physical (PT) or technical skills (e.g. marksmanship).
Other relevant reading
- Urban Combat is Changing. The Ukraine War Shows How (Defense One)
- The Urban Warfare Podcast (Modern War Institute)
- RAND’s Urban Warfare articles
- Megacities, Ungoverned areas, and the challenge of Army Urban Combat (Small Wars Journal)
- Fixing the Way the Army Trains for Urban Warfare (US MWI)