Last week Exercise Coalition Virtual Flag took place in Melbourne Australia. Exercise Coalition Virtual Flag is the largest virtual military simulation event ever to take place, and was hosted this year by The Australian Defense Science and Technology Organization. Australian, American, British and Canadian defense forces participated in a four-day simulated session to train and plan for joint-combat missions around the world. The exercise is a virtual air war that allows soldiers to train alongside coalition forces in realistic theater-level combat scenarios.
Royal Australian Air Force pilots, at the Air Operations Simulation Center in Melbourne, joined the virtual exercise in their virtual F/A-18 Hornets located in the center’s sophisticated simulation cube and dome facilities. At the same time, United States Air Force pilots participated in the simulation from the Distributed Mission Operations Center located at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, which is where the exercise was hosted last year. Over 600 hundred soldiers were connected simultaneously, from more than 25 separate facilities, across 3 different continents.
The Australian Minister for Defense Science and Personnel, Hon Warren Snowdon MP, who facilitated this year’s exercise, said in a July 2010 Military Technology News article on Exercise Coalition Virtual Flag:
“Virtual exercises are a valuable means of determining important combat mission data in an environment that is safer, less expensive and requires fewer resources. The outcome of the exercise is expected to benefit participating nations by providing mission-critical information relevant to future deployments.”
The Distributed Mission Operations Center in New Mexico was recently recognized by the Pentagon, and awarded the Department of Defense Modeling and Simulation Award for Training. In a United Press International article, Brigadier General Steve Hoog, USAF Warfare Center Commander said:
“Realistic, integrated virtual training using high-fidelity models and simulations is no longer the wave of the future, it is the here and now. Through exercises like Virtual Flag, the Air Force’s primary venue to train the entire Theater Air Control System from the Air Operations Center to the shooters, the great folks at the Distributed Mission Operations Center are building and enhancing joint combat capabilities that will increase the likelihood of victory in the next conflict.”
It’s clear from the investment and commitment that militaries around the world put toward simulation-based training, that these tools and techniques not only work well, but are a necessary component of any training process that involves complex systems, processes, or equipment.