ARL Squad Overmatch Team members recognized for helping prepare Soldiers to withstand military warfare

October 28, 2014

By Joyce M. Conant, ARL Public Affairs

Story Highlights

  • Study focused on prevention of PTSD through the employment of virtual training technology combined with learning techniques to manage psychological stress
  • Study shows that immersive technologies support experiential learning and interaction
  • Partnership is a great example of how the research and acquisition agencies, academia and industry can rapidly and effectively work together to support the Warfighter

Researchers from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Orlando, Florida were recently recognized as members of the Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Team of the Quarter for The PM TRADE Squad Overmatch Study Team for distinguishing themselves for 'exceptionally outstanding achievements.'

The Squad Overmatch Study – the common reference for design, implement and demonstrate integrated training to optimize human performance and discourage post traumatic stress disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD, and suicide – was the top ranked study for the Army Study Program in fiscal years 2013 and 2014. Unlike studies that focus on treating PTSD, this study focused on prevention of PTSD through the employment of virtual training technology combined with learning techniques to manage psychological stress.

The three-week study was conducted at the Clark Simulation Center and the Combined Arms Collective Training facility at Fort Benning, Georgia and concluded with an out brief in late June. The study was aimed at developing an instructional approach and a graduated stress exposure model for integrated training.

The ARL team members who were responsible for integrating existing virtual immersive science and technology research into an existing virtual program of record were Patrick Garrity, Dr. Joan Johnston and Sam Napier.

"It was quite rewarding to see the squad's positive feedback to the graduated levels of resilience and situational awareness skills that were part of the scenarios. This successful study does show that we can implement these immersive technologies to support experiential learning and interaction effectively," said Garrity.

The team concluded that implementing human dimension training across multiple mission training areas can be enormously beneficial based on multiple factors including Soldier feedback. Implementation of the training will require a paradigm shift in Army training methods. This presents a set of challenges. The study recommended the following next steps: maturing the stress training continuum, scenarios and technologies; developing a skills task checklist with the related desired behaviors; developing training scenarios so that the squad trains as a dedicated cross-functional team; and establishing of a Center of Excellence for Overmatch Training that develops, integrates tests and initiates an implementation strategy.

"Through this teams' efforts, they established standards of excellence and implemented initiatives to keep the focus on making our Soldiers better prepared to withstand the rigors of military warfare they face when deployed to theater operations," said Maj. Gen. Jonathan Maddux, Program Executive Officer for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation. "The Squad Overmatch Team epitomizes the hallmark traits in working with PEO STRI organizations and partnering Army organizations that represents a standard for all others to model."

Angel Rodriguez, branch chief for Ground Simulation Environments said he was pleased with the amount of support the study received and proud of his teams' achievements.

"I was really surprised and impressed with the cross government partnership for this study that included the Maneuver Center of Excellence, Walter Reed Institute of Research, Army Research Institute, Department of Homeland Defense, U.S. Marines PM Training Devices, Office of Naval Research and MITRE (a federally funded research development center)," said Rodriquez. "This recognition was a great honor for our team."

Johnson echoed Rodriquez's assessment of the partnership.

"This partnership is a great example of how the research and acquisition agencies, academia and industry can rapidly and effectively work together to support the Warfighter," said Johnson.

 

Last Update / Reviewed: October 28, 2014