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In a collaborative effort with the Defense Departments Joint Staff, the Maneuver Center of Excellence has embarked on Bold Quest 2012, a monthlong venture designed to identify and assess systems that augment small unit training, readiness, mission planning and rehearsals.
The exercise kicked off Monday at Fort Benning with more than 200 participants, including 13 Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C.; eight Canadian troops; and 27 Soldiers from A Company, 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment, 197th Infantry Brigade, the posts experimentation force. The McKenna Urban Operations Complex, Lee Field and Maneuver Battle Lab simulation facilities are among the key venues.
Bold Quest is a preliminary block leading into the Spiral H installment of the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment, set for January and February at Fort Benning. Allied representatives and observers also will come in from Australia, Finland, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy and the Netherlands.
This is a first-time partnership between the MCoE and the Joint Staff, all in support of the Soldier and small unit, said AEWE program lead Gary Daniel of the Maneuver Battle Lab. It was a great opportunity to leverage a single event to meet priorities that are important to the MCoE, TRADOC and the Joint Staff. The whole idea of this experiment is to see if force effectiveness at the squad level is enhanced as an outcome of immersive training in a virtual environment.
Jason Rakocy, the Bold Quest project lead and technology manager for AEWE Spiral H, said the campaign provides a live and virtual experimental platform to assess training effectiveness on unit readiness, situational awareness and understanding, and marksmanship for dismounted warfighters.
In turn, the event will help shape decisions in joint and coalition capability development and acquisition while assisting industry, science and technology partners.
Bold Quest planners focus on both near and long-term outcomes, digging into potential material and nonmaterial solutions, he said. Accessing systems and methods that boost leader training and development is another objective, which ties into the MCoEs Squad: Foundation of the Decisive Force initiative.
We needed an event to assess these virtual immersive trainers, virtual marksmanship and other computer-based systems, he said. We have a very compressed schedule, and its going to be a high-intense event. Theres no spare time. But I think theres going to be a lot of positive feedback coming from this experiment.
In particular, analysts should gain solid insights into the human dimension element of the Squad blueprint, Rakocy said. An evaluation of the avatar concept will seek to determine if the model delivers increased training capability beyond the fielded version of Virtual Battle Space 2 and how closely it reflects actual Soldier performance data and attributes.
The U.S. Soldiers and Marines, along with their Canadian counterparts, will engage in live fire at the end of each training assessment week.
Rakocy said the Maneuver Battle Lab, Joint Staff and other MCoE agencies have poured considerable work and effort into getting Bold Quest off the ground.
First of all, Id like to see if these systems work as advertised, of course, he said. But the output as to whether virtual trainers and virtual marksmanship training actually enhance the Soldier and the squad, thats what Id like to see. How valuable are these systems at making our Soldiers and leaders more effective in combat? Are they going to make our Soldiers more capable and lethal because of the knowledge they gain in employing these training systems? Thats the key for us.
Bold Quest is slated to end Oct. 19 with a Recognition of Combatants-Human Threats system event. ROC-HT is an interactive multimedia instruction program that assists warfighters in quickly making critical combat-identification decisions to determine an appropriate course of action.