The Joint Multinational Simulations Center (JMSC), headquartered at the U.S. Army’s Europe Joint Multinational Training Command in Grafenwoehr, Germany, is a high-volume facility, training both US and Multinational Forces. The center has seven classrooms, which can accommodate 200 soldiers at a time. The center enables the training of up to 300 soldiers, usually training half of the group in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. This keeps JMSC’s Chief of Tactical Gaming, Ed Rykard, extremely busy.
“I used to be one of the guys who got to play with VBS,” says Rykard. “Now, I am responsible for scheduling to make sure we have enough seats for training.” Rykard first started using VBS in 2008 as a private contractor, before he began his role as a First Person Simulations Specialist with the Army in 2009.
JMSC uses VBS for a wide range of training exercises. With a terrain team in place, JMSC has created geo-specific terrain for Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels. “The team can also develop terrain for mission rehearsal, for anywhere the U.S. Army deploys,” Rykard says. “For example, a unit used geo-specific VBS terrain to conduct a virtual terrain walk before training on a live route clearance exercise.”
In September 2015, JMSC led a distributed training event using VBS to link four finance detachments; one each at Grafenwoehr, Kaiserslautern, Baumholder, DE and Vincenza, IT to exercise procedures for executing casual pay operations, pay inquiries and interacting with local nationals. This was the second year the unit used VBS in a distributed network environment to simulate convoy and financial support operations.
“We’ve trained everyone from veterinarians to dentists,” explains Rykard. “We have other game-based applications that we use alongside VBS. That is the strength of the blended training environment.” One example of blending VBS with other simulation tools is the use of the basic tactical questioning skills trainer.
“Because JMSC has the capability to script questions, we can link VBS with the tactical questioning skills trainer by way of scenario. The unit will convoy to their destination, where they have been tasked to meet with an individual. Specific soldiers tasked will move to the tactical questioning skills trainer and conduct virtual questioning while the rest of the soldiers in VBS pull security for them,” Rykard adds. “Sometimes the scenario dictates that the soldiers may have only five minutes to get the needed information, so we kind of put the pressure on them. This is the perfect environment for learning this particular skill.”
And, Rykard takes full advantage of the ability to customize training scenarios with the VBS editors. “One thing we don’t do here at JMSC is run canned scenarios,” he says. “We build a scenario specifically to meet a unit's training objectives. Everything we do is to better prepare the soldier to meet their real world mission.”