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The Uses of Simulation in the Military

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The Uses of Simulation in the Military
Week 1, Research Paper

Simulation has been a part of the military for almost as long as war has been around. However the types of simulations that we use today are a modern invention. Generals have been creating and testing strategies in simulation for a long time. Today we have the technology to create virtual representations of a battle zones stocked with geographical landscapes, both hostile and non-hostile NPCs (non-playable characters) and controllable entities acting as the various soldiers and vehicles. Simulation is a great and a necessary tool for training your soldiers and winning the war, the most important of these simulations are wargames, field exercises and flight training.
One of the oldest types of simulation in the military are Wargames. A wargame generally is a type of game or simulation that is designed to expose a player to concepts and aspects of war (University of Virginia, 1999). Wargames would have started at the time of the first organized war (University of Virginia, 1999). These games were most likely picking an action then taking that action testing it and then tweaking the plan to make it better (University of Virginia, 1999). Generals used this setting for many years, allowing them to come up with better strategies, therefor winning more battles. In 7th century India there was a wargame called Chaturanga, Chaturanga in many aspects is much like the game chess which is often played today. In the game each piece of the board represented the different types of units you may have seen on the battlefield which include foot soldiers, elephants and chariots (University of Virginia, 1999). With the invention of computers it gave the military the ability to simulate these war games in a more virtual environment. This was a large advantage because the only limitations where those set by the computer. One of the earliest consumer games that was modified to be a military game was Doom II, which was turned into Marine Doom. The game was changed to make a team of players work together, increasing their abilities in coordination and decision making (Carrie McLeroy, 2008). Taking the abstract and virtual wargames into a physical setting introduces field exercises.
As with many things actually doing something is better experience than playing a game or talking about doing it. The military is no exception. Unlike other types of simulations field training exercises are expensive and take much more time to set up. These can be set up using a few personal or many. In May 1999 a field exercise was created called Mega Gold (Pike, 2011). This was one of the largest field exercises having more than 12,000 soldiers (Pike, 2011). This battleground was created to make the soldiers face many different obstacles such as civilians, ambushes, good and bad reconnaissance and bad weather, all while trying to fight a team verse team battle (Pike, 2011). This type of simulation is an important part of the military because this sort of situation is the closest thing to war as they can train with. However in some situations in the military it is best not to start with this type of exercise.
Flying an airplane or jet is not something to take lightly. There are many things that could go wrong with you are in the air, especially when you are working for the military. When the First World War came along the need for pilots was increased drastically. Before the invention of the different flight simulators to learn how to fly an airplane a pilot would have to learn from another pilot ( Roberson Museum and Science center, 2000). The Link trainer was one of the first flight simulators, but it did not get much use until World War 2 ( Roberson Museum and Science center, 2000). In World War 2 the link trainer was used to train over 500,000 pilots ( Roberson Museum and Science center, 2000). The Trainer used a system of bellows that would inflate and deflate and a motor to spin allowing the trainer to move around simulating some of the movement of flight, allowing the user to get used to moving and using the different instruments ( Roberson Museum and Science center, 2000). Since then, there have been many improvements to flight simulators. One of the most modern simulators is the Desdemona. The Desdemona simulator’s design fixes many of the flaws that are in other flight simulators. It can rotate any possible way, allowing it to give the user a much more realistic feeling because the user is actually spinning around (Desdemona). Flight simulators allow the user to get used to the controls and instruments without leaving the ground. Modern flight simulators also have the ability to go through different emergency situations making learning to fly much safer and productive. Going to war may be what the military does best, but without the use of different simulations and training exercises their skills as starting soldiers would little more than a militia. The military use many different simulations like wargames, field exercises and flight training. Each one of these makes the soldiers both safer and overall better soldiers. Simulation is an important part of the modern world, but in the case of the military simulation can be the difference of defeating your enemy and being defeated by them. Simulation has been with the military since the beginning and chances are it will always be a part of it for as long as the military still exist.

Bibliography
Roberson Museum and Science center. (2000, June 10). The Link Flight Trainer. Retrieved September 7, 2012, from ASME International: http://files.asme.org/asmeorg/Communities/History/Landmarks/5585.pdf
Carrie McLeroy, S. m. (2008, August 27). History of Military gaming. Retrieved September 7, 2012, from The Official Homepage of the United States Army: http://www.army.mil/article/11936/History_of_Military_gaming/
Desdemona. (n.d.). Desdemona, Desdemona. Retrieved September 8, 2012, from Desdemona: http://www.desdemona.eu/
Pike, J. (2011, May 7). Field Training Exercise. Retrieved September 8, 2012, from Global Security: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/ftx.htm
University of Virginia, G. L. (1999, December 3). Wargames. Retrieved September 7, 2012, from University of Virginia Faculty web server: http://faculty.virginia.edu/setear/students/wargames/index.htm…...

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