Simulation transforms modern military training

06/10/2021
Simulation transforms modern military training

How can accuracy be improved on a remote-controlled weapons turret without expensive and resource-intensive testing? At the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, a project in modelling and simulation is working on that solution.

“What we are doing is helping defence to better tackle challenges through practice and repetition - that’s what simulation lets you do, and do it cost-effectively,” explains the Defence Academy’s Major Tom Mouat, one of the UK’s foremost technical experts in this area.

Maj Mouat has years of experience in modelling and simulation. Working as part of the Information Warfare Group in the Defence College for Military Capability Integration (DCMCI), his team supports defence by training and preparing students to adopt new technologies. With Cranfield University as an academic partner, Maj Mouat is developing a modern curriculum at the Defence Academy that aims to maximise how synthetic environments can be employed to best equip our people.

During one impactful training simulator exercise, each participant adopts a fictional role on the bridge of a spaceship – like science officer, communications, engineering – and briefs the ship’s captain, leading to an overwhelming flow of information. Through this experience, participants are given the tools to think critically, to highlight the importance of communicating effectively, processing efficiently and acting rapidly. The skills learned in this simulation can be directly applied to the real-word operations and highlights how defence education is training our people how to think, not what to think.

Maj Mouat’s expertise is built on a deep foundation of knowledge and experience. After a varied Army career, starting in the former Royal Army Ordnance Corps, he worked in defence procurement for simulation at Abbey Wood, and then an operational tour in Iraq, before joining the Defence Academy in 2011. With an advanced degree in the expertise, Major Mouat also consults for the MOD to solve some of defence’s challenges.

For example, modelling and simulation can be used to trial and test new equipment, such as body armour, to check it offers protection in the right places while remaining practical to wear. It can also test scenarios that would be impossible in real life – for instance, repeatedly firing the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) at an adversary’s position to test the weapon’s effects. It also has real fiscal benefits as concepts can be proved, or disproved, by simulation without an expensive real-life experiment that involves personnel, materiel, and logistics costs – such as trialling a machine gun control systems to then better analyse its results.

As one of the most renowned experts in the field, Maj Mouat continues to support defence by training the next generation of experts to best harness the potential of modelling and simulation. In the Information Age, the battlefield has changed, demanding different ways of thinking and operating. This also requires us to adjust how we train and educate our people in defence. To stay ahead of adversaries, the Defence Academy is supporting the MOD to maintain our technological edge through the use of synthetic environments, modelling and simulation.