Troops in the U.S. get some of the best training a half-trillion dollar budget can afford, but that doesn't mean that it can't be improved on. If soldiers could be put in a training environment that perfectly emulated serious combat and kept them safe, that would basically be the ideal way to train. It would also be good if the soldiers getting trained had to deal with real, intelligent opponents rather than a static, unchanging simulation.
It's a tall order, but it's just that sort of system that the U.S. Army is cooking up. The program is called Future Holistic Training Environment Live Synthetic and what it will do is use a whole bunch of augmented reality (AR) tech to fool soldiers-in-training into thinking they're really in the midst of a firefight.
Here's how the Army sees it working: troops are walked out into a vacant training field where, out of the blue, enemy jets pop out of the clouds, raining bullets and missiles down around them. As the troops find a defensible position, they feel the impacts of the explosions around them. They see and smell the flames and smoke from the bombs dropping around their ears.
Obviously none of the carnage these troops are facing is real, but the same can't be said for their opponents. Those enemy jets, AR projections as they may be, will actually be piloted by other soldiers in training at another military base, miles away. Seated in flight simulators and gaming stations, these pilots will be fed live data from satellites and the ground troops themselves, making the whole experience a sort of real-world version of Call of Duty. The system is planned for full implementation by 2025, which should give AR tech plenty of time to advance enough to include real-time haptic feedback and scent generators.