Magazine article National Defense

Submariners Learn Anti-Terrorism Tactics

Magazine article National Defense

Submariners Learn Anti-Terrorism Tactics

Article excerpt

Navy submarine crews are using video games to practice anti-terrorism tactics designed to secure their boats while in port. The technology, called the Force Protection Anti-Terrorism Simulation Trainer, includes scenarios for defending the inside of the submarine, on the assumption that intruders have climbed on board.

Other scenarios are less dramatic, such as discovering a mysterious package. "You notice a box that wasn't here when you started the watch, and it looks suspicious," explained Frank Boosman, chief marketing officer for 3Dsolve, in Cary, N.C. The company developed the simulation.

As part of a project known as "submarine on-board training program," the Navy will begin distributing the simulation in the first quarter of 2006. It will replace an existing video-based trainer that used branching video clips to teach in-port security. "They came up with videos that would last typically 20 to 60 seconds," Boosman said. "You would have three choices, and each of those choices would lead to another video. Only one of them would be correct, and if you didn't get it right, you would get remedial training."

That trainer worked, but it had inherent limitations, said Boosman. Video-based trainers are inflexible, he said. "Once the video has been shot, it's shot. If port security doctrine changes, you can't go back and change the video easily."

The 3Dsolve simulation will use the 17 scenarios from the video trainer, as well as five additional scenarios that will take place aboard the submarine.

The Force Protection Anti-Terrorism Simulation Trainer is a three-dimensional game with a top-down, "God's eye" view (like the popular entertainment game "The Sims"). The camera can rotate or zoom. The characters are submarine crewmen, terrorists, disgruntled sailors and civilians. "We also have some situations where there are no bad guys per se, but rather a package that shouldn't be there," Boosman said.

Characters can open hatches, climb up ladders and shoot weapons. But the simulation isn't a marksmanship trainer. It's a decision-making game with graphics that are realistic enough to suspend disbelief, Boosman said. "What we've built uses a role-playing game interface to provide submariners with an environment in which they can explore and investigate their environment, leading to a critical decision point with a finite set of choices. …

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