With more than 200 soldiers involved, Exercise Urban Warrior 5 represented the largest virtual battle simulation ever conducted in the UK. Virtual Battlespace 2 played a central role in this massive training experiment.
Designed by Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and UK Niteworks, the experiment was developed to “help the [UK] Army better understand the battlefield of the future,” according to the UK Ministry of Defence.
One of the opportunities the Virtual Battlespace environment afforded researchers was the ability to test yet-to-be implemented technologies for the UK’s Warrior WSCP, an infantry fighting vehicle.
Lt. Col. Charlie Barker noted in a British Forces News interview that, “No one yet has touched a real Warrior yet. ....One doesn’t exist, so we couldn’t [use] it in the live environment. We could represent it, but we couldn’t have a real one. Here we can represent it really accurately and you will find that soldiers see new capabilities, which will lead to new ways of fighting.”
Initially, UK Army soldiers conducted a live exercise at CENZUB (le Centre d’entrainement aux actions en zone urbaine) in Picardy, France, the French Army’s urban warfare training facility, which includes two replica villages simulating a range of urban environments, including real houses, school buildings and more.
Replicas of these towns, buildings and other architectural features were then modeled in Virtual Battlespace 2, and the UK Army continued its experiment in the virtual environment with over 200 soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, based at its Land Warfare Centre in Warminster, UK.
“By changing certain variables, such as the number of troops on the ground and the amount of surveillance and communication available, the experiment [sought] to discover how best to equip and command the British Army in possible future conflicts,” according to the UK MOD.
One of the early results of the experiment, according to Col. Tim Law, assistant Director of Concepts and Experimentation at UK Army headquarters, was that “placing Intelligence Corps personnel in the battlefield headquarters and feeding information down to front-line commanders is preferable to embedding those personnel with combat units.”
Moreover, the experiment underscored the increasing role of simulation in training.
“Simulation is playing an increasingly important role in delivering cost-effective training solutions across all our defence domains,” said Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology.
Read BBC coverage of the exercise here.