Camp Pendleton, San Diego, Calif. - The Chairman to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, witnessed Marines in action Tuesday as they confronted loud explosions and thick smoke in the Infantry Immersion Trainer´s virtual Iraqi village.
"I´m very impressed with it," noted Adm. Mullen. "It´s a reminder of what simulation can do-it´s certainly great preparation for the Marines as they prepare to go to Iraq-and in the end hopefully it will contribute significantly to a better way to execute the mission and save lives."
The Infantry Immersion Trainer (IIT) provides a vivid and realistic virtual environment to prepare warfighters for a range of possible scenarios. Marines utilizing the trainer emerge with a heightened ability to recognize threats and make split-second decisions in dynamic scenarios before deploying to face real combat.
Adm. Mullen went on to emphasize that the IIT demonstrates the feasibility of affordable technologies to enhance joint warfighting capabilities during complex, stressful combat conditions. "I have believed for years that all of our conventional forces have to have more special forces attributes," said Adm. Mullen. "What I see today is the use of simulation, the use of technology, to move in that direction." Adm. Mullen was impressed with the results of a truly joint research effort between the Navy, Army, and Marine Corps.
More than 800 Marines have trained in the simulator since it became fully operational in December 2007. It is the first IIT facility at the I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) Battle Simulation Center at Camp Pendleton. This new training system represents a decade´s worth of science and technology investment by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).
IIT focuses on saving the lives of Marines and warfighters. The scenarios are repeatable and scaleable, allowing participants to develop and improve necessary skill sets. The sights, sounds, and smells of combat are reproduced in exacting detail, abbreviating the time it takes to develop proficiency, and the use of virtual reality avatars further enhances the value of the training exercise.
Improving mission performance through cutting-edge training technology is another objective of ONR´s IIT program. The facility´s software-based systems enable rapid improvement of training delivery, and the simulated environment can be tailored to suit mission or individual training needs.
"The IIT trainer is very realistic," said Sgt. William Jones, the officer-in-charge of the IIT facility. "Like real combat, the trainer goes from crickets to chaos is seconds!" Sgt. Jones was a squad leader in Iraq and served multiple tours in Fallujah and Ramadi. "The biggest comment I get from guys going back to Iraq or Afghanistan is that they wished they had this trainer five years ago. For the younger Marines, this training really helps prepare them for the real thing, and will help save lives."
The IIT was a joint research effort spearheaded by ONR´s TechSolutions office and developed in partnership with the Army Research Development and Engineering Command´s Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California. ONR also worked closely with industry partners at Lockheed Martin, Strategic Operations, AnthroTronix, Design Interactive, and Pacific Science and Engineering.
ONR has facilitated key partnerships in the development of IIT with leading scientists and engineers in government and academia. In concert with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), ONR is using a pre-release version of software called RealWorld that integrates with laser systems built by Naval Air Systems Command Orlando for the Justice Department. The Marine Corp Program Executive Office for Training and I MEF are providing the building, and funding the role players, pyrotechnics, and operators.
"We are seeing the result of our hard work and collaboration become an exciting new training technology that is having direct impact on mission performance," said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. William Landay. "From vision to results . . . at ONR, we are striving to bring cutting-edge science and technology to our Sailors and Marines."
At its current location, the IIT is a resource for units assigned to I MEF. In particular, it is used as an adjunct to the pre-deployment training program prior to advanced training at Mojave Viper. A second facility for the Marine Corps will be operational in Quantico, Va., this summer.
To download photos of Adm. Mullen´s visit to the IIT, visit: http://www.onr.navy.mil/media/releases/image_gallery/default.asp
For more information about the Infantry Immersion Trainer, visit: