Why Army Simulators are Trash

Over the past half century, the U.S. Army has implemented a number of small arms simulators. These have ranged from the Weaponeer, MACS (Multipurpose Arcade Combat Simulator), LMTS (Laser Marksmanship Training System), EST (Engagement Skills Trainer), MMTS (Mobile Marksmanship Training System), among others. These have spanned multiple decades. Compared to arcade games, think of them ranging from pinball to home console video games to theater surround sound systems.

Every one of them has been a failure. 

All formal data published since the end of World War 2 shows that Soldier skill with small arms has declined. Every change to qualification standards has reduced the challenge and Soldier skill has followed it ever downward.

This is not the fault of the simulators. All of them are effective tools and could have helped, but a tool is only as good as the person wielding it.

There are only two only significant flaws in every simulator ever put in use:
1. Low availability. Soldiers never see or use them often enough to matter.
2. Poor leadership/organization: Most Units fail to consistently make use of whatever they have available and don’t have a reasonable plan to get personnel more skilled. Most Soldiers that shoot well do so on their own or by accident.

The issue is having it readily available for regular use and then implementing some sort of plan to use it. That is the real win.

Army qualification has been binary (hit/miss) on full-size, 6 MOA (or bigger) targets since Trainfire began in 1955. All any effective simulator needs to do is differentiate hits and misses. Plain old dry practice works well, provided the shooter actually cares. Simulators provide an objective measure in dry practice for the majority of Soldiers that will never truly care to be better shooters so that dry practice doesn’t devolve into bad castanet playing.

A Reserve center with a row of old MACS or Weaponeers lined up like pinball machines that actually get used during every drill/BA is better off than a unit with the newest simulator that is rarely used.


2 comments on “Why Army Simulators are Trash

  1. Joseph Silvia says:

    John, I admire your orientation!But the problem is not simulators. It’s the fact that the command structure that initiates them fails to acknowledge the proportional significance ofthe segment of the total organization which they serve.Simulators should be totally unnecessary in tier 1 units and the marksmanship proficiency paradigm for the rest of the Army needs to be re-thought.RegardsJoe SilviaMSG USAR  (ret)

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