In January of this year, the U.S. Military Academy began working with the Penn State Applied Research Lab to facilitate an event called the Virtual Thunderstorm Technology Demonstration. During the demo, nine vendors provided the Rapid Reaction Technology Office (RRTO) from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) with a solution to enhance small unit lethality on the battlefield. Conversations for this event began between November and December of last year with preparations for the culminating event the week of October 5-9.
According to LTC Chris Johnes, the director of the West Point Simulation Center, the solution is the development of a virtual reality simulation rendered by scientific research and development companies. Due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions, company representatives could not come to West Point to showcase their products live. The event had to be conducted — webinar style.
The event kick started on October 5 where each company had 10 minutes to give an overview of their virtual reality product. From October 7-9, three companies per-day presented 40-minute deep dives providing in-depth information on what their products were doing.
Furthermore, Johnes explained the Office of the Secretary of Defense identified different issues the Department of Defense wants to explore. For this venue, OSD focused on small unit tactics on the battlefield and reached out to vendors across the nation to solve the problem. In this case, the RRTO wanted to conduct a Rapid Response Mission Rehearsal for small tactical units and wanted to incorporate virtual reality technologies into the rehearsals. Read more.