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The Army Is Looking For A Few Good Soldiers To Play Video Games
It looks like the U.S. Army has fully embraced the America’s legions of gamers, but don’t start freaking out about the endtimes just yet. In Operation Overmatch, an upcoming online video game developed by the service, two teams of eight soldiers take command of an assortment of tanks and armored vehicles and do battle with new and advanced war machines.
But Operation Overmatch isn’t all fun and games. The Army intends to monitor and solicit feedback from troops on how the up-armored killing machines they pilot in the game fare, so the service can figure out what weapon and armor concepts are worth pursuing before committing to real-life prototypes. That’s right: Soldiers can now put those hours of Battlefield to good use beta-testing for America’s next big war.
"Soldiers have the advantage of understanding how equipment, doctrine and organization will be used in the field — the strengths and weaknesses," Michael Barnett, chief engineer at the Army Game Studio and project lead for Operation Overmatch, said in an Aug. 23 statement. "And they have immediate ideas about what to use, what to change and what to abandon — how to adapt quickly."
Developed by the service’s Training and Doctrine Command and Army Game Studio, Operation Overmatch is a product of the Army’s Early Synthetic Prototyping effort, which the service uses to test out weapon systems and armor by letting active-duty service members work out the kinks in cyberspace first to “inform concept and capability developers.”
The pilot, in development since 2016, will feature “adversary threat platforms” and early concepts for potential weapons platforms Col. Kevin Butler with Army Capabilities and Integration Center told Task & Purpose in an email. “Players will be able to select certain capabilities (weapons, caliber, robotics, etc.) and design friendly platforms and use them in the game,” Butler said. “We expect insights on platform design, employment, and effectiveness within the game, which can serve to identify areas for further study.”
At this point, the game is still in the early testing phase, and the warfighting scenarios are restricted to urban environments. Players can outfit and equip their squad to fit their needs, choosing from thousands of options. Say a team is going up against a fortified enemy position, but the avenue of approach is too narrow, or laced with obstacles? Scrap the hulking armored personnel carriers and M1 Abrams tanks for a souped-up prototype mini-tank and pull some Fast & Furious hijinx on the digital battlefield. Hell, you can even play around with purely conceptual weapon systems, to see if they’d even work out in a real life — or near-to-real life scenario, it is a game afterall.
The military’s use of video games isn’t a new development. The Army has a history of leveraging millennial’s proclivity for first-person shooters in games, like 2002’s America’s Army, a recruiting gimmick in the form of a free-to-play shooter game that emphasized squad-level tactics. Or, 2004’s Full Spectrum Warrior, which the Army pursued with game developer THQ, as a way to test the idea of using first-person shooters as training tools.
"In a game environment, we can change the parameters or the abilities of a vehicle by keystrokes," Lt. Col. Brian Vogt, ESP project lead with TRADOC, said in the statement.
But the focus of Operation Overmatch is less on tactics and more on gear: The Army is looking to quickly beta-test proposed or experimental weapons and vehicles without having to actually build a real-life prototype before determining whether or not it would work out well on the battlefield — and since it’s all digital, it’s a fraction of the cost.
"We can change the engine in a game environment and it could accelerate faster, consume more fuel or carry more fuel,” Vogt continued. “All these things are options within the game — we just select it, and that capability will be available for use. Of course, Army engineers will determine if the change is plausible before we put it in the scenarios."
Online beta-testing for the game is slated to kick-off in October.
Retired Army Master Sgt. Mark Allen has died 10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for deserter Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.
Allen died on Saturday at the age of 46, according to funeral information posted online.
For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday he and the Pentagon will comply with House Democrats' impeachment inquiry subpoena, but it'll be on their own schedule.
"We will do everything we can to cooperate with the Congress," Esper said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Just in the last week or two, my general counsel sent out a note — as we typically do in these situations — to ensure documents are retained."
Most of the U.S. troops in Syria are being moved out of the country as Turkish forces and their Arab allies push further into Kurdish territory than originally expected, Task & Purpose has learned.
Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, leaving a residual force of between 100 and 150 service members at the Al Tanf garrison, a U.S. official said.
"I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday's edition of CBS News' "Face the Nation."'
More than 700 women and children affiliated with ISIS escape Kurdish prison camp after Turkish shelling
BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Women affiliated with Islamic State and their children fled en masse from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria on Sunday after shelling by Turkish forces in a five-day-old offensive, the region's Kurdish-led administration said.
Turkey's cross-border attack in northern Syria against Kurdish forces widened to target the town of Suluk which was hit by Ankara's Syrian rebel allies. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.
Turkey is facing threats of possible sanctions from the United States unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports to Turkey. The Arab League has denounced the operation.