Soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, are using a massive-multiplayer online (MMO) game to learn tank tactics and flex their real-life skills. The tankers of D Troop, 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division are training in-game, maneuvering their vehicles and using real-life procedures. The tankers are currently tankless in the real world, waiting for new tanks and are stuck in “force protection.” That’s what civilians would call social distancing, making video games an ideal solution.
The U.S. military is not immune to the COVID-19 pandemic with 4,912 cases reported throughout the armed services, including two deaths. The Army, knowing that enough infections will cause a unit to become non-deployable, is cutting back or adjusting soldier training to “protect the force.”
According to the U.S. Army, D Troop is currently waiting for new M1A2 Abrams tanks, having turned in its older tanks after a rotating back to Fort Hood from a temporary deployment to South Korea. Deprived of tanks and the opportunity to train in the field, the D troop leaders turned to War Thunder, an MMO game in which players can take command of tanks, infantry vehicles, and even aircraft in a virtual combat zone. Troopers use a free chat program to communicate with one another as they maneuver across the artificial landscape. According to the U.S. Army:
The game has given soldiers invaluable insights into the broader job of their units. For example, the four man crew of an Abrams tank—the tank commander, gunner, loader, and driver—all meet in War Thunder in four separate tanks, where they compromise a tank platoon. A platoon of tankers in real life becomes an entire company of tanks in the virtual world.
A tank loader, for example, becomes a tank commander, responsible for his own armored vehicle in battle. The loader, who typically does not see beyond the breach of a M256 120-millimeter main gun in combat is suddenly confronted with the big picture his vehicle faces. As a tank commander the loader must now think about how his tank operates with the rest of his platoon. The loader learns what it’s like up to two levels above his station, giving him a greater perspective than he could learn in a real tank.
The cav troopers of D Troop, though experienced soldiers in real life, are starting out at the bottom of the War Thunder tech tree. A photo (top) shared by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, shows an Army soldier playing the M2 medium tank, a tank dating to the late 1930s. The M2 was obsolete by the time the U.S. entered World War II and it never deployed overseas for combat. The cav troopers of D Troop can eventually play their way to their “real” tanks, the M1A2 Abrams, but it’s going to be a long, long in-game grind.
Source: Business Insider
From: Popular Mechanics
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