Matthew Jensen Hays, Julia Campbell and Todd Richmond: “Beyond Doctrine: Mobile Training for Dismounted Threat Assessment”

December 5, 2012 | Orlando, FL

Speaker: Matthew Jensen Hays, Julia Campbell and Todd Richmond

Abstract: During patrols, Soldiers are often dismounted (on foot, outside the protection of a vehicle). Dismounting provides several tactical and strategic benefits. However, the training that Soldiers receive often takes the form of PowerPoint slideshows about improvised explosive devices (IEDs). This approach is insufficient for lasting learning (Hays, Ogan, & Lane, 2010). Further, veterans of multiple patrols report that relying exclusively on pre-scripted doctrine causes Soldiers to set patterns. Insurgents adapt to these patterns in planning their attacks; predictability is vulnerability. We interviewed several subject-matter experts, who said that Soldiers need to understand what underlies insurgents’ decisions and behavior and how their intent to attack generates threat for Soldiers. With this understanding, Soldiers would be better able to recognize and respond to threats, and could employ doctrine in unpredictable ways. To that end, we developed a training system research prototype: the Dismounted Interactive Counter-IED Environment for Training (DICE-T). DICE-T focuses on indicators of threat: elements of the environment, terrain, population behavior, and previous friendly and enemy activity. Critically, DICE-T is designed to enable trainees to understand why something is threatening so that they can recognize the same underlying threat in a novel situation. DICE-T improves on and complements existing training by providing up-front instruction in narrative-based videos; guidance and real-time feedback as trainees practice making decisions required by dismounted patrols; and structured, personalized feedback during an automated post-exercise review (PXR). Finally, DICE-T is entirely contained in a software package that can be installed on an Android tablet. In this paper, we describe DICE-T and our efforts to make it accessible, informative, and educational in a way that might complement mission-rehearsal exercises. We also describe the data-driven process by which we intend to evaluate and improve the system’s ability to transition Soldiers from the classroom to live training.