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

Why soldiers don't read textbooks

Imagine your workplace is a foul-smelling trench with deafening sounds and vibrations of bombs shuddering through your insides, 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 hurl one more grenade…

Military training is among the toughest training in the world. To us mere civilians, the scenarios and catastrophes soldiers experience can’t be comprehended. But one thing’s for certain, you wouldn’t send a squad of new recruits out on day one, behind enemy lines, with a gun, some grenades 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 dangerous and potentially fatal tasks with little more than a handbook by their side and a certificate of course completion after sitting through a handful of PowerPoint-led 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. Drawing inspiration from the army, we’ll expose some of their most effective training techniques and show you how to integrate them into your own training programmes, 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?


Lance Corporal (LCpl) Possnett explains:

“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.”

Not only does simulated scenario-based training ensure the 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.

“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 favour 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 armour. 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 is 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 Training & You

Military simulation training now spans across all areas of combat from ammunition 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. And now you can use it too.
You may feel that your training needs aren’t quite as extreme. 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 minimise the chances of harm better than traditional methods, isn’t it worth considering?
Whether your current weapon of choice is 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 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 to find out how we can help you integrate simulation-based learning modules into your training today.


About the author


SimTutor is a global leader in simulation-based learning.

SimTutor Author is an authoring tool designed to help you build interactive procedural simulations for healthcare, medical education and other industries where immersive training is critical.