Computer simulator preps military chaplains for the battlefield
The animated figure on the computer screen moves carefully among the wounded, darting from one fallen figure to another. Trailing the combat medics, the uniformed military chaplain kneels and performs “spiritual triage,” assessing who is dead, who is soon to die, and who is likely to survive.
For the dead, there is silent prayer; for the gravely wounded and those in pain, there are words of comfort. Checking dog tags to determine the faith of the fallen, the pastor uses language consistent with each faith tradition. At each point in the action, a prompt asks users what they think is the appropriate response, and then offers them feedback on their choices.
Veterans say nothing short of the real thing prepares someone for serving under fire, but a computer simulation company here has been awarded a $1,00,000 development contract by the US Army Research Laboratory’s simulation-technology centre, also in Orlando, to develop a programme designed to help prospective military chaplains.
A prototype, to include a variety of battlefield scenarios and vignettes, is expected to be delivered to the Army by the middle of this year, according to officials at the lab. If accepted by the Department of Defense, it is likely to become part of the curriculum at the chaplain training school at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina.
The computer-simulation programme is designed primarily for those who will serve in harm’s way in Afghanistan through the promised US pullout in 2014, and in future conflicts. However, developers say the simulation will remain relevant for any terrorist attack or natural disaster involving mass casualties.