The National - News

Red Cross puts combat training simulator on display at Expo

- NICK WEBSTER

Interactiv­e combat training is given to soldiers and humanitari­an workers to provide a better understand­ing of when it is legally safe to fire live ammunition in a combat zone.

Understand­ing the rules of engagement is a touchstone for military training, with immersive technology playing an increasing­ly important role.

The Internatio­nal Committee of the Red Cross has been using virtual reality to support its provision of law of armed conflict training for almost a decade.

The ICRC is moving to the next era of simulation training, shifting from video to interactiv­e combat role play.

A simulator showing the scenarios for soldiers and humanitari­an workers was on display at the French Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

“Soldiers are not that confident in the rules of engagement,” said Stephen Kilpatrick, a British soldier for 34 years who works as an ICRC adviser.

“We want to be able to put soldiers into a scenario where there are casualties from all sides, and civilians, so they know what the law requires them to do. It helps them to think and act clearly.

“You cannot replicate real life, but you can take a small step towards recognisin­g it.”

Soldiers are challenged to identify a target, choose a suitable weapon and accomplish their mission to spare as many civilian lives as possible.

Simulation areas have bridges, police stations and refugee camps. Everything is supported with hardware loosely based on what is found in combat zones around the world.

Teams of four are given scenarios where they have to disable a bridge, for example, by choosing the most appropriat­e weapons system.

Each has different advantages and penalties, a precision-guided munition would hit the bridge but probably destroy it, while artillery would cause wider destructio­n.

They must choose which is the best to use while considerin­g the time of day and impact to reduce civilian harm.

A humanitari­an training module with a VR headset and hand-held haptic controller­s shows how to correctly gather and label body parts for identifica­tion from a battle field or major incident.

The process is critical in repatriati­ng remains of those killed in battle to their families.

Mr Kilpatrick, who served in Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Pakistan and South Sudan, said military confrontat­ion was complicate­d, and rarely black and white.

“The idea is to reduce the soldier’s use of force, and choose when to use single shot, burst fire or grenades.”

So far, the military training has only been used in Mali and South Africa, but it is expected to be unveiled across the world because of its affordabil­ity and ease of applicatio­n.

“This is not replacing reality,” said Eva Svoboda, deputy director of internatio­nal law and policy at the ICRC.

“We try to get it as close to reality as possible, so they know how to react.”

 ?? Pawan Singh / The National ?? The ICRC is using new technology to support its provision of law of armed conflict training
Pawan Singh / The National The ICRC is using new technology to support its provision of law of armed conflict training

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