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The Ronin

Mar 24, 2017
By Major Md Zubair Hossain, psc, AC

“A Revolution in Military Affairs occurs when a nation’s military seizes an opportunity to transform its strategy, military doctrine, training, education, organization, equipment, operations, & tactics to achieve decisive military results in fundamentally new ways.”

- Extract from Chapter 10 of the United States Joint Vision 2010 document


Bangladesh Army, emerging through the Great War of Liberation of 1971, has fought Liberation War, counter insurgency operations in Chittagong Hill Tracts, counter terrorism operations inside the country and peace keeping operations in 40 countries. These gallantry services were possible through rigorous training. The need of well-trained soldiers, who are also capable of responding to rapidly changing situations, is very high now. In the face of rapid urbanization and consequent shrinking of field areas; synthetic battle grounds are depicting a realistic scenario which is the emerging focus for training military personnel.

This method is safer, cheaper and allows multiple groups from different types of forces to interact in wideranging circumstances. Synthetic training offers unique features that even the most ambitious live exercises cannot match. For example, recording and then replaying a simulation shows exactly what happened, and when it happened during a session. Trainers/Umpires can assess the mission minute by minute, and compare it with trainees' own learning using various quantitative and qualitative tools available. However, this synthetic training cannot bring full realism; it falls short in depicting an immersive real world scenario.

Synthetic training is conducted using various forms of simulation. Considering human presence in the simulation cycle, there are three broad categories of simulation namely Live, Virtual and Constructive. Bangladesh Army had limited number of Live and Virtual simulator. Recently, we have constructive simulation housed in Army War game Centre. These simulators are used for training individual soldiers and combat groups.

The ultimate form of simulation based training will be the merging of all these simulations in one integrated platform where individual and collective training will be delivered in a synthetic environment wrapped around the real world deployment. For achieving these levels and simulation based training delivery, Bangladesh Army needs to plan for acquisition of these modern tools. Only technology will not be enough, we need to prepare the skilled manpower or “The Human ware”. Simulation Based Training and its future possibilities in Bangladesh Army are discussed in this paper.

Simulation for Military Training.

. Simulation can be simply defined as an imitation of the original operation. Modelling and simulation both are forms of representation, an abstraction of reality. Military Simulations present an almost realistic battlefield in front of the trainee/participants. Advancement in computer and other technologies has revolutionised military simulation. Now imitating or replicating the battlefield can be achieved more accurately, realistically and with greater details. Technology has made it possible to develop simulators which are exactly like the original equipment or the system.

Categories of Simulation. In broad terms military simulations are categorized in three categories mostly considering the human participation in the system. The types are Live, Virtual and Constructive. The types are described in short below:

a. Live. A simulation involving real people and operating real systems can be considered in this category. Military training events using real equipment are live simulations. They are considered simulations because they are not conducted against a live enemy in actual combat. Field Training Exercise, Summer Training and Winter Training conducted in our army are the best examples of live simulation.

b. Virtual. A simulation involving real people and operating simulated systems fall under this category. Virtual simulations place a human-in-the-loop into a central role by exercising motor control skills (e.g., flying jet or tank simulator), decision making skills (e.g., committing fire control resources to action), or communication skills (e.g., as members of a C4I team). Tank Simulator, Vehicle Driving Simulator, Anti-Tank Guided Missile simulator and Mine Simulators are some virtual simulators used for training in Bangladesh Army.

c. Constructive. A simulation involving simulated people and operating simulated systems are considered in this category. Real people stimulate (gives input) such simulations through interface, but are not involved in determining the outcomes. A constructive simulation is a computer program. For example, a military user may input data instructing a unit to move and to engage an enemy target. The constructive simulation determines the speed of movement, the effect of the engagement with the enemy and any battle damage that may occur. Army War Game Simulation System (AWGSS) used in Army War Game Centre (AWGC) is an example of this type of simulation.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Simulation Based Training.

Realistic Combat Training. Simulators have already been recognized as a very effective training aid. They excel in imparting realistic and meaningful training to the armed forces personnel individually or collectively. Users are comfortable with the capability of these simulators which provide real-time feel and performance of the original equipment. Ideal simulators truly replicate the actual systems and have realistic controls, indicators, viewing devices and instrument panels. Experts have evaluated a simulator by evaluating the skills it has been able to impart in a trainee in carrying out operational task effectively.

Their experiment consisted of forming two groups of trainees; identical, compatible and equally qualified. The first group (experimental group) trained on the simulator while the other group (control group) trained on the actual system for the same duration of time under similar conditions. Both groups were later tested on the actual system and it was noticed that the experimental group invariably performed better than the control group. Thus, the efficacy of a simulator in imparting better quality of training was established.

Cost Effectiveness. A simulator is a very cost effective method of imparting training. In the first place, simulators are much cheaper than the original equipment. A tank driving/firing simulator is available at a fraction of the cost of a tank. Then it saves the recurring expenditure of fuel and costly ammunition. It also saves the wear and tear of the original equipment, thus reducing the expenses on repair and maintenance. One simulator can train more trainees who would have otherwise required more numbers of original equipment to achieve same level of training. On top of everything, use of a simulator conserves the life of the equipment.

No Risk of Actual Human Casualty. Training of newly commissioned officers to become expert fighter pilots is an extremely risky business. Making them fly an actual fighter aircraft, despite most extensive class room training, will be extremely dangerous as it may result in loss of precious life. Similarly, training of medical officers on actual patients may endanger the life of the patients.

It is well known that Air Force permits new pilots in the cockpit after an extremely extensive training on flight simulators. Similarly, now a day’s medical simulator is widely used for training the medical staff. Simulators have proved to be very effective method of training in high risk jobs. They not only reduce the danger, but also prepare the trainees with skills that make them confident to work with minimum or no risks.

Objective Based Training Delivery. Most simulators allow the instructors to set exercise parameters and monitor the trainee in real time while they are practicing. He can guide them when they make mistakes and help them to correct their mistakes. System records the performance of each trainee which can be replayed to understand right and wrong actions and take corrective measures. Simulators are able to indicate the actual mistakes made by the trainee. Such immediate feedback mechanism allows the trainee to apply his acquired knowledge in the simulation.

Hi Fidelity Training. High availability of any system is defines as “H-Fidelity”. Simulation training can be conducted anytime and often in a very short notice. Units do not have to wait for the allotment of range for conducting small arms training or classification firing. Tanks need not to be taken out of tank garage for training. It is not always easy to release troops and other resources for an outdoor training. Simulator training sessions can be carried out as per the convenience of the unit. This training can be in unit areas and round the clock, seven days a week, if desired.

Disadvantages of Simulation Based Training.

a. Expert technical resource pool is essential for the existence of the system.

b. Always updated IT infrastructure is required.

c. Management of trained HR is very difficult.

Present State of Simulation Training In Bangladesh Army.

Modern simulation systems are capable of delivering cost effective training for most of the equipment available in our army. They are capable of training the individual combatant and combat groups in various scenarios, from routine to most complex situations. However, the effective use of such a powerful and efficient tool was not very encouraging. Lately, its potential use has been recognised and incorporated for training purposes in Bangladesh Army. This slower recognition of simulation technology and potential benefits may have been partly emphasized due to the lack of funds and lack of awareness. The promulgation of simulators and war gaming in Bangladesh Army has been coordinated under Army Training and Doctrine Command (ARTDOC) .Various forms of simulation used in Bangladesh Army are described below:

a. Live. At present, Bangladesh Army is conducting live exercise in the form of Summer Training, Winter Training, Live Firing and Field Training Exercises, etc.

b. Virtual. Training Centres have car and tank driving simulators which fall under Virtual Simulator.

c. Constructive. AWGC is conducting Computer Assisted Exercise (CAX) for the Army Brigades, Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC) and Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support Operation Training (BIPSOT) using constructive simulation. It is a Tactical Training Tool. Command posts are exercised at various levels on simulated scenario where the company commanders are exposed to simulation. The synthetic battlefield presented through the simulation portrays near- real environment to the participants in the command post.

Future Possibilities of Simulation Based Training for Bangladesh Army.

Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS). SIMNET program of US Army involved the networking of simulators produced by the same vendor. This concept has been further extended to networking simulators of different fidelity and functions. This extended concept of networked simulators is called DIS. By creating an environment where various types of simulators can communicate to each other, effective training can be accomplished at different levels. This can extend from operational team training to force-on-force combined arms training.

There can be heterogeneous types of simulators in DIS network having different scopes and data structures. A common language (protocol) has been created to communicate with each other named DIS. DIS uses IEEE-1278 standard protocol for inter communication. Following this model, formations and training institutions of Bangladesh army can exercise together remaining in their actual location. Various types of simulations including sister services simulations can be joined in this type of exercise. We need to have common protocol such as DIS or High Level Architecture (HLA) compliant simulation for achieving this advantage.

Advanced Distributed Simulation (ADS). With the technological advancement, DIS evolved into ADS. It integrates simulation, simulators and live equipment/weapon systems inside a realistic synthetic battlefield environment. ADS and DIS are interchangeable with only exception of aggregated level simulation protocol (ALSP) included in ADS. Strength of ADS/DIS is demonstrated in combining various types of simulations in a single exercise. By design, Constructive Simulations use aggregated effect of various individual factors. They often do not consider details of individual weapon systems.

High resolution 3-D terrain, detailed human decision-making and human interaction with the system are not well- represented, and therefore, cannot be used for individual training realistically as compared to other two type of simulations. Although, constructive simulations are used extensively for collective training both at unit and formation levels, it is not suitable for training in other operational areas like Military Operation Other Than War (MOOTW) and Fighting in Built Up Area (FIBUA). On the other hand, live simulation brings operational realism in training, but at the expense of huge cost, time, space, risk, etc.

Specially, conducting and managing training at the formation level is not only very difficult, but also can create diplomatic tension with the neighbouring states. Although virtual simulation (e.g., SIMNET. DIS) is emerging as an effective training tool, its application at the formation level has limitations. Therefore, combining all three types of simulations and exploiting the unique advantages of each, ADS/DIS is able to provide better and realistic training than any one type of the simulation individually could.

The concept of ADS/DIS was first successfully demonstrated in 'Armour/Anti-Armour Advanced Technology Demonstration (A2ATD)' programme of US Department of Defence for military material acquisition process. It not only verified and validated the objectives successfully, but also provided with analytical reasoning of the simulation outcomes. Since then, a good number of DIS compatible systems have been tested. Some of the other DIS/ADS application areas are:

a. Synthetic theatre of war (STOW)

b. Combined arms tactical trainer (CATT)

c. Joint tactical combat training system (JTCTS)

d. Joint simulation system (JSIMS)

e. Battle force tactical trainer (BFTT)

Dismounted Soldier Simulation (DSS). This is one of the ADS/DIS compliant virtual simulation systems for individual soldier and small unit simulation. DSS immerses an individual soldier within the virtual environment and interacts with other live, constructive, and virtual DIS entities. The soldier is able to move, shoot and communicate, while at the same time, visualise his surroundings through a wireless Head Mounted Display (HMD) and interact with the virtual battlefield elements.

DSS interacts with Computer Generated Force (CGF) entities on a DIS network and allow the real world soldier to do his normal activities freely, like running, walking, crawling, jumping and also engaging CGF targets with his weapon within the synthetic battlefield. Visual effects of weapon firing in the virtual battlefield are visualised by the soldier with the real- world battlefield sound effect. TRADOC Analysis Centre of USA initiated a project known as JLINK.

JLINK connected constructive simulation “Janus” with ADS/DIS compatible simulations and battlefield distributed simulation-development (BDS-D) simulation facilities using software interface. “Janus” operates at the level of individual tank, armoured personnel carrier (APC), helicopter, etc. and is played at battalion and brigade level.

Janus contributed to DIS its large validated database of weapons/equipment and attrition/acquisition models, whereas DIS contributed CGF, player generated scenarios and a 3-D visualisation capability. The combined effect generated more realism because of the fact that the participants were free to manoeuvre and perform all the necessary activities while engaging targets. Thus it gained importance as a training and analysis tool.

Synthetic Wrap. Blending simulation with real-life manoeuvres is termed Synthetic Wrap in simulation training. It is achieved by linking field instruments to a simulated environment. Live assets appear within the virtual battle space, while simulation CGF adds military and civilian entity activities as per exercise design. When an actual soldier is participating in this type of exercise in some area of Bangladesh, he is put through these systems where a synthetic battlefield is created around him using simulated environment.

He will see enemy forces coming from a certain direction and have to respond appropriately. It is also possible to integrate ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) capabilities into the synthetic wrap, including an array of cameras and sensors. Exercise participants can control virtual assets such as unmanned aerial systems in real time, and view video feeds that mix simulated and real images.

Simulators can also bring different services together to train for joint operations. The Air Battle space Training Centre at RAF Waddington of USA combines air and land simulation to train forward air controllers and joint tactical air controllers. In that training, land-based trainee looks through virtual binoculars at the same synthetic environment as the fast-jet pilot sitting in his simulator cockpit in the same building.

Live Simulation Through Tactical Engagement Simulation System (TES).This is a type of live exercise conducted through outdoor training of force-on-force engagement using laserbased Tactical Engagement Simulation (TES). The only difference between live exercise and TES is that, instead of firing live ammunition, laser pulses are transmitted to the targets by the attacker. There are two different types of TES simulators. In one type, e.g., multi-integrated laser engagement system (MILES), the target system includes laser pulse receiver for detecting transmitted pulses.

If the receiver detects these transmitted pulses, the system measures beam strength and uses probability of hit and probability of kill tables stored in the computer unit of the target simulator to assess outcome of the hit. Combat Duelling System of Germany is based on the Saab BT-46 simulator system. Its firing system includes a transceiver unit and the target system has four retro reflectors fitted in different parts of the target. If the firer's transceiver receives information that bounce back from a retro reflector, the coordinate of the retro reflector is used to evaluate the type of kill by the built-in computer.

The probability of kill table, corresponding to vulnerability of the area of the target represented by the coordinates along with the random number generated by the computer, is used for assessing kill status of the target. After each exercise, exercise control collect data on every engagement in the exercise area stored in the memory card of the system's computer unit. It is then transferred to the master computer for After Action Review (AAR).

The position information of each participant is determined using GPS and is stored in the respective memory cards for analysis during AAR. These simulators can be attached or removed from participants' body rapidly and easily during the training. The training incorporates all standard gunnery procedures to be practiced against real targets. It can be used for conducting all arms, training of all direct firing weapons, including small arms. In the future, it may be possible to incorporate Area Weapon Effect, Close Air Support, NBC and other battlefield elements.

Live Exercise Through GPS Enabled Battlefield Simulation System. This system uses Force-On-Force Deployable Instrumented Range System (DFIRST). It is a GPS enabled battlefield simulation system. DFIRST device consists of a GPS antenna, a combat vehicle kill indicator light, an L- band communication antenna, a Participants Instrumentation Package (PIP), an on-board computer, radio communication system and an in-vehicle display. During the exercise, PIP monitors position data from all DFIRST vehicle equipment.

When a target comes within firing range, the gunner fires a simulated round after virtually selecting ammunition. The on-board computer execute hit and damage computations considering probability of kill tables after obtaining information of GPS locations of the firer and the target, armour protection, ammunition type and firing accuracy. An external weapon effect simulator emits smoke discharge with sound when a tank gunner fires the main gun which reveals the identity of the firer and brings realism to the process. Once a round hits a target, it is immediately communicated and the target vehicles kill indicator light flashes to indicate the type of kill.

It also indicates “near miss” in case a round just misses the target. There is a base station for monitoring and controlling the exercise and an AAR cabin where the participants can view, replay and analyse the simulated exercise. In this type of exercise, exercise controllers inside the base station can create a simulated minefield by entering minefield coordinates into the main system computer. When GPS tracking data indicate a target entering the minefield, system software determines the resulting damage of the target by considering minefield characteristics, target vulnerability data, etc. Similarly, the system can also include virtual artillery units in the exercise.

The base station supervisor may activate artillery fire on the target when they are within the effective firing range of the virtual artillery battery. Considering target type, ammunition characteristics, etc., damage due to artillery fire is determined using mathematical models within the system software. Exercise supervisors in the base station can also suspend the operation of a vehicle through communication link or warn any participant verbally through radio link, if necessary. This simulation system was used for armour warfare training exercises in orchard training area, Idaho, USA.

Strategy for Simulation Based Training in Bangladesh Army.

There is a conflict in requirements of intensive training to achieve the required level of proficiency and conserving the life of costly equipment/weapon systems in peace time. Simulators are the way in between these conflicts. They are very powerful tools that can be used to develop and perfect this training need. CAX in synthetic battlefield simulation allows creation of current or future battle scenarios, linking dispersed forces, reducing weapons systems wear and tear, enhance training familiarity and inject reality into training.

Simulators are also used by advanced armies in developing military technology and doctrine to achieve breakthroughs. Advanced technology alone cannot guarantee proficiency; a very significant lesson from US Army has been their modelling of the scenarios to help reduce losses in battlefield. They have established that Simulation technology needs to be integral part of conventional force planning and defense policy. This benefit can be reaped by war-gaming future battle scenarios. It requires tremendous familiarity with computer simulation technology and deep understanding of how simulations can transform conventional force planning.

The recent developments in simulator technology can be exploited to significantly enhance the efficacy of training, to ensure smooth technological transition and to ensure comprehensive modernization of Bangladesh Army. It is however imperative that a correct strategy is formulated for development, validation and induction of simulators. This will require an environment that is conducive for simulation integration. All the defense establishments/institutions associated with the development and/or usage of simulation models should come together and form a forum. This forum/body must work on the objective to create a common simulation environment for the promotion of simulation activities in Bangladesh. The forum should periodically conduct discussions, seminars, etc. on simulation activities. This must also include civilian scholars in related fields.


Modern battle space has evolved in such a way that training need has become very difficult to be achieved through conventional live exercises. Bangladesh Army also faces the same challenges. Rapidly changing scenario, fast urbanization and multiple dimensions of battle space has brought simulation training in the fore front of military training. Bangladesh Army has already ventured into the realm of Simulation Based Training by using virtual simulators like tank or car driving simulator in schools. Recently raised AWGC has put us in the constructive simulation training map of the world. From these, we have already felt the requirement and benefits of such tools.

We have to venture further to fulfil the training needs. Application of ADS/DIS in connecting various types of simulation systems brings more realism in training. This realism is further enhanced when actual instruments are linked with simulation via synthetic wrap. Participating trainees are immersed in the synthetic battlefield where he engages with the CGF generated enemy in real-time. Best possible results at tactical level may be achieved using live simulation through TES or DFIRST. All the modern Armies are using these methods to train their members for achieving combat efficiency. Bangladesh Army also needs to look into these methods of training gradually in predetermined phases.

Like any technology based program, fast-tracking of simulation based training capabilities of Bangladesh Army need to be correctly managed. It is thus necessary to evolve a robust and sustainable framework that would facilitate induction of simulation based training while safeguarding long term organisational interests. Promulgation process must include studying contemporary simulation technologies available worldwide; comparing these for effect: utility, cost, ease of handling, infrastructure, updates, stability and maintenance etc.

A central body/forum has to be formed for identification of areas where simulation training can be employed at various level and resource centralization for training at various formation/ institutions. This central body may include civilian scholars in related fields. This body should plan and propose suitable simulation procurement plan relevant to various arms and services to achieve desired quantified results in training at various levels.


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Source- Bangladesh Army Journal 62nd Issue, 2017.

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