Life or Death? Why Soldiers Don’t Read Textbooks…



Imagine your workplace is a sweltering battle-field with deafening sounds and vibrations of bombs shuddering through your very bones, your eyes stinging with sweat and dust, and the metallic taste of ammunition and blood on your tongue.

Both hot and cold, your muscles are pumped full of adrenaline, and even though you should be exhausted, super-hero strength takes over and you load your weapon one more time…

It goes without saying that military training is among the toughest in the world. To us mere civilians, the scenarios and catastrophes that serving personnel experience can’t be comprehended. But one thing’s for certain, you wouldn’t send a squad of new military recruits out on day one, behind enemy lines, with a gun, some ammunition and a how-to manual and expect them to make it out alive.

Yet, incredibly, that’s exactly how many other mission-critical industries across the globe conduct their workplace training. Every day, people are inexplicably sent out to perform complex, high-risk and potentially dangerous tasks with little more than a handbook for reference and a course completion certificate after sitting through a handful of PowerPoint-style Q&As.

As technology grows more sophisticated and accessible by the year, it’s time for high-risk industries to re-evaluate the way they train and track performance. Drawing inspiration from the army, we'll touch on some of their most effective training techniques and show you how to integrate them into your own training programs, generating results you couldn’t possibly get from a standard operating procedure manual or attending a few seminars.

Situational Training, eLearning & Simulation

We all know the saying "practice makes perfect" but, as you can imagine, there are certain military situations that are either too costly – or too deadly – for staff sergeants to recreate for the benefit of their soldiers. And yet, they still need to know exactly what to expect on the field and how to react, so what’s the solution?

The armed forces could not survive today without using simulation in their training. Not only does simulated scenario-based training ensure new recruits’ safety, it also provides them with the opportunity to learn from mistakes.

With soldiers being able to repeat their training and practice as often as possible, simulation can cater for different learning paces, addressing any issues and ironing out problems before live combat begins.

Simulation training plays a very important role in the development of soldiers. With the help of simulated scenarios, we’re able to carry out drills and processes methodically and at a safe but quick speed. Every time a soldier is on exercise he/she is in some form of simulation.

By far the most beneficial training we received was live firing. Taking enemy positions in a simulated environment whilst using live ammunition makes you substantially more aware and reactive to developments on the ground. I learned how to fire my rifle safely and move in between my friends without being a danger. When we deployed in Afghanistan, back in 2011, it was evident this training had helped us as soon as we came into contact with the enemy. It was as if we were repeating a rehearsal but with a lot more adrenaline and excitement. It is my honest belief that no other form of training can be more beneficial than simulation training.” – Lance Corporal (LCpl) Possnett.

All Levels of Competence

Trainee soldiers come from all backgrounds and levels of literacy, fitness and skills. Simulation cuts through these anomalies and doesn’t favor only the academic among them. Another reason military leaders consider simulated training to be vital, particularly in the early stages, is because it helps to set standards. Trainers can accurately measure their training objectives because they’re able to experience and understand what went wrong and, more importantly, help individuals see it too, so they can focus on overcoming chinks in their armor. After all, who wants to be that one person to let the side down?

Textbooks and classroom style training can only take a soldier so far and are mostly used to give us a guideline on the drills needed during certain real-life scenarios. No other form of training can develop a soldier’s muscle memory and reaction skills the way simulation can, especially if we’re expected to perform well in real life situations.” – Lance Corporal (LCpl) Possnett.

So, how do you know if your people are truly competent? Up until now, have you been able to monitor their skill level, or have you just been hoping for the best?

Simulation and You

Military simulation training now spans across all areas of combat from ammunition and weapons handling right through to treating post-traumatic stress disorder by providing sufferers with a safe space to deal with their struggles, making it one of the most versatile modes of training available. It can also be used for something as mundane as how to operate critical software programs.

With SimTutor Author in your own toolkit, you can use some of the same types of simulation too, without needing a huge budget or a team of technologists. You may feel that your training needs aren’t quite as extreme as the armed forces'. But ask yourself these questions:

  • What effect does poor training have on your business?
  • If your people are your biggest asset, why wouldn’t you arm them with everything they need to succeed – and survive?
  • If simulation software could help you reduce costs and minimize the chances of harm better than traditional methods, isn’t it worth considering?
  • Whether your current learning "weapon of choice" is PowerPoint (there's a reason for the phrase, "death by Powerpoint"!), elearning software, operating guides, seminars, or a mixture of these – we’d like to bet there’s much more you can do to help your people retain more information, stay safe, and ultimately, perform better.

Since simulation technology solves many of the problems trainers face daily (and goes one step further by helping to drastically reduce costs), maybe it’s time to start thinking of copying what the army does: allow your own "squad" to carry out real-life procedures and tasks in a safe, risk-free environment so they can hit the ground running and perform at their very best straight off the bat.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you integrate simulation-based learning modules and scenarios into your training - rapidly, easily and cost-effectively.


About the author


SimTutor Inc is a global leader in simulation-based learning.

SimTutor Author is an authoring tool designed to help you build interactive procedural simulations and branched scenarios for any industry where realistic, just-in-time, measurable training is critical. 

SIMTICS is a library of ready-to-use simulations for learning medical and healthcare procedures and skills, powered by SimTutor Author.