Scottish Reservists Train in the Virtual Field

With training having been suspended for the last couple of months, and with it only now beginning to resume again, one Reserve unit is still spending weekends in the field, on vehicles and calling in air strikes on the virtual battlefield.

The Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry, the UK’s newest combat unit, has seized the opportunity of the COVID-19 training lockdown to explore other avenues of training.

On 16 and 17 May, 18 soldiers from the SNIY took part in a virtual training exercise, with another 22 watching via live stream.

It was the second such virtual exercise. The Squadron typically trains twice monthly on weekends.

Troops used VBS3, a military simulator developed by Bohemia Interactive Simulations and already in use by the British military through the Defence Virtual Simulation (DVS) programme.

Utilising online training programmes allowing the simulation of a field exercise, troops were able to practice practical skills such as vehicle activity, working with multinational forces and calling in artillery and air support, all key skills of the light cavalry soldier.

The training was watched by officers from allied militaries, including American and Australian units, who may use similar means to keep their soldiers skilled during the pandemic.

The program simulates an accurate battle space, and military vehicles and weapons, including the JACKAL, the SNIY’s primary platform.

VBS3 allows soldiers to experience how to fight from these vehicles, how they move around the battlefield and the capabilities the Jackal and the soldiers of the SNIY can offer commanders on the ground.

The British Army has been a key component of the UK Government’s coronavirus response, and the SNIY have been a part of that response in Scotland.

Essential training has continued throughout the pandemic, in order to maintain operational capability, and a phased recommencement of other training is being planned.

All non-essential training for Army Reservists has been postponed, in line with government guidance, but across the Army Reserve, the initiative of individuals has been on display in planning and executing valuable training of soldiers remotely.

The unit has plans to create a digital training suite at their base in Redford Barracks, Edinburgh, and continue digital training even after lockdown comes to an end and traditional training can resume.