By: Adrienne Vititoe

Cadet Isak Visser from Pacific Lutheran University practices shooting during DSTS.

Battles were raging inside two modest, inconspicuous brick buildings over the weekend as CIET First Regiment got a final dose of preparation before heading out to the field for a week.

Cadets were given the opportunity to experience two combat simulation systems: Dismounted Soldier Training System (DSTS) and Virtual Battle Space 3 (VBS3), so that ever-advancing technology would serve to provide cadets training fundamentals in a controlled environment before more advanced field training.

“It was cool to see how much technology has changed and being able to use it to practice who to engage and who to not engage,” said James Dyskterhouse, cadet from Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. “Overall it was just a really great training.”

Cadet Alyssa Germanoff from Newberry College in Newberry, South Carolina awaits the start of her team's mission.

Cadet Alyssa Germanoff from Newberry College in Newberry, South Carolina awaits the start of her team’s mission.

“I want to do infantry so for me it gives a good experience because we get to see how to command a team through a combat mission,” said Jacob Siebert, cadet from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. “Even though it’s virtual, it helps you learn how to command and work as a team.”

DSTS is more physical while VBS3 is more mental, so cadets come out of the exercises more prepared for training in the field.

“The purpose of [DSTS] is to build muscle memory and familiarization of basic squad tactics and what could possibly happen on a deployment,” said Drill Sergeant William Medina.

“I was really impressed by the technology and how much they could put into a little tiny screen,” said Isak Visser, cadet from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. “I could crouch, I could make hand gestures, I could lie down, I could aim my weapon. All the functionality of it was really cool– just how much I was able to do.”

Major Mike Lawson from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, OIC of the operation, said this is a common reaction.

“Everybody has been impressed with it,” Lawson said. “I think it’s a great way to relate tactics to the video game generation.”

“[VBS3] exercises them mentally,” said Tim Drushall, the game technology lead of VBS3 operations. “In training lingo, we’re exercising the cognitive skills, because we know it replicates physical activity but it’s not a good replication of that. If we’ve done our job right in creating the exercises, then we’ve put them in situations that require them to make a decision and exercise leadership.”

CIET cadets learn about VBS3.

CIET cadets learn about VBS3.

Drushall instructed the cadets to take the simulation seriously.

“We expect you to behave in the simulation as you would in real life,” Drushall said. “The mission doesn’t stop just because B team’s radio stops working. If it was real, what would you do? You have to find a way to work around it.”

“Once you’re in the heat of it, it’s a lot harder to communicate,” Visser said. “Things start going crazy and you have to really rely on your training. That’s why you practice so much.”

Medina said the cadets definitely benefit from the training.

“It’s a complete turnaround,” Medina said. “They start off a little lost and at the end they’re performing like a normal squad would.”


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