BOISE -- Soldiers at Gowen Field have a brand new way to train for battle. It uses sensors to immerse them into a realistic virtual combat situation. Popular video games can be in development for five to six years before testing. This system was created just 14 months ago.
It's a full sensor network that you wear, said Dale Stewart, the system's operator. And the point of it is to try to immerse somebody into a digital environment, so much that it feels like they're really in combat.
It's called the Dismounted Soldier Training System. Soldiers put sensors on their legs, arms and torsos. The visor goes on their helmets and covers their eyes.
Everything is designed to be as realistic as possible so that as soldiers are training, they're already used to the feel of wearing their gear, they're already used to the feel of having a weapon in a fire fight, said Stewart.
It's the latest training tool for members of the armed forces. Now soldiers at Gowen Field are using it.
I think the biggest benefit is that they can train as a team, actually firing their weapons in a coordinated manner, said Major Charles Moore, who trains soldiers at Gowen Field.
Right now, only nine soldiers can use the system at a time. But, they're scheduled to get three more systems, so 27 more people can use it.
This system can do anything in the world. You can find any place in the world, you can set up any scenario, said Major Moore.
It's just the newest tool in their training tool box.
With this and some of the other systems we have, oh yeah, they're incredibly valuable, Major Moore said.
Some of those who have deployed comment that it gets them into combat mode; it's like being back out in the field again, said Stewart.
The next group that deploys will be the first to have this new system used in their training. Moore said it will make them more prepared for all kinds of things they could see in the field.
With more engineering, they'll be able to put real maps in the program so soldiers can explore and get familiar with an area before they deploy.
The equipment costs about $200,000 for one backpack setup.