le monde virtuel et les soldats réels

November 20, 2008 § Leave a comment

on the trip into work today, i saw an interesting piece in le devoir about virtual training for canadian soldiers.  according to le devoir, virtual training through army learning support centre at cfb gagetown in new brunswick ends up being cheaper than actual training for some functions.  for example, to train a soldier to drive a tank, it usually costs close to 145,000$ per soldier in the real world, over the course of 6 weeks.  but doing so virtually, costs only 96,000$, and it only takes two weeks.  moreover, the success rate of the soldiers has shot up from 72% to 83%.  according to capt. jeremy macdonald, who was interviewed at the Sommet international du jeu de Montréal, “plus de simulation, moins de terrain, plus de diplômés et moins d’argent: les chiffres parlent d’eux-mêmes et l’avantage de la formation virtuelle et s’avère indéniable.” 

the centre has a staff 90 full-time, 20 contractors, and 30 interns from a nearby college.  they support training for land forces in infantry, armour, artillery, tactics, as well as the canadian forces school of military engineering at cfb gagetown, as well as the canadian forces land advanced warfare centre, the canadian forces school of electrical and mechanical engineering and the canadian forces school of communications and electronics, all of which are in ontario.

given the continual budget crunch facing the canadian military, and i suppose, increasingly, all militaries, i think that the move to use virtual training instead of land training is an interesting one.  i find myself wondering, in the case of the tank driver, if his virtual training is actually helpful for him in real life? 

many of my students are gamers, and sometimes i wonder if their gaming experiences prepare them for or distort their interactions with reality, not necessarily because of whatever game they’re playing, but due to the virtual experience: it’s not real.  it’s artificial and exists inside a computer.  but is there a difference between that and the training of a soldier at cfb gagetown?

either way, i think it’s kinda neat.

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