Here is part of the AAR that I submitted from my three hour visit, it doesn't include the Observation, Discussion, and Recommendations:
From August 2016: In the CO’s Conference Room, a Spartan Helmet & Shield are hanging from the wall.
“The hippeis belonged to the first mora and were the elite of the Spartan army, being deployed on the honorary right side of the battle line. They were selected every year by specially commissioned officials, the hippagretai, from among experienced men who had sons, so that their line would continue.”
The Spartan Helmet, Shield, Spear, & Breast plate are no longer hanging on the CO’s Conference Room wall. Different pieces of the Spartan gear are now kept at the Company Offices and displayed front and center on ‘gear trees’ during formations. The right to display the gear is won through competition.
This was my 4th visit to V2/6 to observe; the first visit was during the change of command in June.
The second visit was in August to witness training being done with the Decision Room, with ad hoc collection of computers that were due for DRMO and software that has been around since 2002. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) had also brought in a project that they were working on; Accelerating Development of Small Unit Decision Making (ADSUDM). I talked to some of the Marines from the Battalion and received mixed reviews. They weren’t really sure where the Battalion was going with this concept.
In September during Marine Week in Nashville I ran into a L/Cpl from Fox Company. I asked him about the Decision Room. He explained how he worked on Fireteam, Squad, and Platoon tactics at 02:00 the day before they left for Nashville.
The third visit was in November during the Battalion’s Technology and Innovation Week. By this time the Decision Rooms had expanded from one to nine, all of them in the barracks. The 81’s Platoon was using the Augmented Immersive Team Training (AITT) for training. The Battalion was integrating the Instrumented Tactical Engagement Simulation System II ( ITESS II) data into the Interactive Tactical Decision Game (ITDG) and they had their first use of a Phantom DJ Quad Copter to model the North East Corner of the MOUT facility. There were cognitive scientist conducting evaluations and biometrics being collected. The Battalion was making Combat Decision Range Scenarios using GoPro cameras. Throughout the week there was Squad completions being held using Deployable Virtual Training Environment (DVTE) simulations. At the conclusion of the scenario, the Marines would gather in small groups outside of the Battalion CP and discuss what went right and what went wrong.
Tuesday 13 Dec 16
My fourth visit was only for 3 hours. I linked up with the Battalion at Golf-3 Observation Post to observe Forward Observer training being conducted with live ammunition against virtual targets using the AITT. After observing the training I left the hill to talk to some Marines about the training. They pointed out that there wasn’t a need for virtual targets because there were real targets on the range. I mentioned that most of those targets were probably on the range twenty years ago and probably still on the old maps that I used back then. This is when we came to the understanding that the virtual targets offered training in locating new targets and the target location could change constantly. I then left for the MOUT Facility.
I arrived at the MOUT Facility CP about 20 minutes before LtGen Wissler. I had a chance to get an advanced look at what was about to be presented. The Battalion, with help using ONR hardware had completed the 3D map using a Phantom DJ quad copter. Using the HoloLens with the 3D map they were able to discover terrain obstacles that were not present on other terrain data bases. The S-2 used the HoloLens to brief the Battalion which then launched reconnaissance assets within two hours and complete the planning in a little over four hours. The H&S CO stayed in the ITESS van and focused on data collection while the Companies conducted force on force training. All data was fed into the ITDG.
LtGen Wissler was briefed on the Battalion’s training SOP
In garrison the Marines have unlimited access the Decision Rooms. Daily to include weekends and holidays Marines use Tactical Decision Game (TDG) software to practice decision making repetitions. A few days before a FEX begins the Marines start planning using the hololens and ITDG. The Company orders are passed down to the platoons using the ITDG. Mission planning is then done out in the field using ITDG and hololens. During the execution, I TESS II captures all of the data on movement and engagement. This data is then fed into the ITDG and the small unit leaders are given an AAR in the field. When the Battalion returns to garrison all of the data is accessible as a TDG for the Marines study down to the individual level.
This is without a doubt the best training that I have ever witnessed. The finished TDG is an objective assessment of training that was completed and can be easily referenced by anyone in the Battalion to build on lessons learned. The ITDG is being used as the ‘glue’ that binds the various training systems into one manageable and recordable training event.