Cadets at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) participated in a Disruptive Technology Experiment (DTEX) on May 4th, 2023. This DTEX event explored how a digital 3D environment, in this case the Arma 3 game, can be used to enhance cadet training. Arma 3 was used as a computer-based simulator to offer a realistic military experience. 

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Colonel Atin Basu Choudary from VMI organized and oversaw the DTEX event in collaboration with the NATO Innovation Hub. “These DTEX events help cadets apply theoretical skills to realistic settings while helping develop leadership skills. This is the very definition of what makes a citizen soldier,” said Colonel Basu, who has collaborated with the Innovation Hub on several projects involving decision-making and strategic thinking. The head of the Naval ROTC at VMI was also present at this event as an observer.  

Participants of this DTEX were students of Col. Basu’s ‘Game Theory’ class. Game theory uses applied mathematics to analyze situations in which players make decisions that are interdependent, requiring each player to consider the other members’ possible decisions when formulating a strategy. 

Founder of NATO Innovation Hub, Serge Da Deppo, who abides by testing outside-of-the-box ideas, said: “Confronting fresh minds to operation challenges is the best recipe to get out-of-the-box solutions to military issues.”  

Arma 3 proved to be a great tool for this, since players had to make individual decisions, while also taking into consideration the rest of the team members, as if it were a real-life scenario. The scenario used in this DTEX was developed by Ioannis Kiakos, an undergraduate student in computer science at the American College of Thessaloniki. “During my time with the NATO Innovation Hub, first as an intern and now as a fellow, I’ve learned that innovation is about finding useful applications. So, that is what I focused on during the planning and design phase for the project,” said Ioannis.