The Finnish Defence Forces use virtual training

Net 2017,  2017-03-17

The Finnish Defence Forces want to train servicemen and regulars faster and in a more affordable way. The solution is a virtual training environment, which also motivates learners in a new way and helps them achieve better results. Over a thousand soldiers are doing their drills simultaneously at Celsius workstations across Finland.

The Finnish Defence Forces use virtual training

The trainees use the training system with Fujitsu Celsius workstations in their garrisons. Fujitsu customized the workstation for the Defence Forces by installing a graphics adapter designed for gaming.

“We needed gaming workstations to run the virtual training environment smoothly. The Celsius hardware we chose has been very suitable for this task,” says project manager, Major Mika Kärsämä from the Army Academy’s simulator competence centre.

Kärsämä says that the Defence Forces looked for the best price-quality ratio solutions for the virtual environment’s hardware. The acquired equipment will be in use for the next five years.

J Sonninen Jukka Sonninen, Brigadier General, Chief of Education (on the left), says that he was impressed with the possibilities of the virtual environment years ago.

“I took part in a training which taught action on another continent, in totally different conditions to ours, and in a situation where the information given beforehand was only partially correct. The exercise taught things in a short space of time; the results attainable through traditional method of teaching, such as a lecture, would have lagged far behind the possibilities afforded by the virtual environment.”

Virtual reality lets you make dangerous mistakes

In the virtual environment, the Defence Forces train servicemen to act as individuals and in configurations of different sizes. Now, there are about 400 workstations in use, and the number will grow to a little more than a thousand during this summer. The number of workstations will reach 1,100 as the rest of the equipment is taken into use next year. If necessary, the virtual environment can be connected with similar environments in other countries. The same Bohemia Interactive Battlespace 3 environment is also used in the defence forces of several countries, e.g. in Sweden.

“Typically, the training starts in the morning in the virtual environment and continues in the terrain in the afternoon. Even dangerous mistakes can be made in the virtual environment, as the safety of the trainees does not need to be taken into consideration, as in the real world. Basic mistakes are weeded out so first that in the terrain it is possible to focus on the essential.”

According to Sonninen, the Armoured Brigade has been a forerunner in virtual training in Finland. As mobilizing the equipment of the Armoured Brigade is expensive, the cost benefits of the virtual environment have become quickly visible.

“Virtual environment helps us process things that can’t be brought up in regular training. The same exercise can be repeated many times, if necessary, making it possible to try different alternatives in each situation. We can experiment, for example, which target to shoot first. In the virtual environment, we can also give our trainees equipment, such as weapons, which are rarely used in regular training,” says Sonninen.

The trainees have liked the new training method.

“The gaming world is familiar to many servicemen from their civilian life. It is important to their motivation to see, through simulation, their own role in large military exercises and the effects of their own team’s actions in the big picture.”

More information about the Celsius workstations

More Information

Published in the Net Magazine 2017,  2017-03-17

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