Computer Games Saving Lives in Afghanistan
The sand is blowing in my face, veiled women are shopping for vegetables at the local market and some men in Afghan dress sit chatting over a coffee. Suddenly in the corner of my eye I notice a man speeding away on a motorbike towards a compound in the distance. Before I can do anything there is a loud bang, a flash of light and everything goes black........I've been hit by a suicide bomber........
Luckily I'm sat in the warmth of an MOD office at Abbey Wood in North Bristol. They're showing off their latest gaming technology for training soldiers bound for Afghanistan.
JCOVE (Joint Combat Operations in a Virtual Environment) is like a virtual Helmand Province. The buildings look real, the locals act like local people and the kit on my (virtual) back is the same as a regular British Soldier.
It's all based on games you or I might well have played on the playstation, xbox or PC over the last couple of years. It brings Helmand Province to any office and lets up to 30 soldiers patrol it together as a team at once.
Major Charles Burbridge is convinced it saved lives during his last tour of the country when he was involved in Panthers Claw, a massive Allied push against the Taliban. He told Heart '6 days after we arrived in Afghanistan one of my soldiers was seriously injured. We we're able to transplant him from the point of explosion, to the field hospital in record time. That record of 26 minutes still stands. We rehearsed that process here on JCOVE just before we deployed. Without doubt it saves lives.'
Captain Terry Newton added 'During Afghanistan, due to casualties, we did lose key individuals. In my troop in particular troop corporals. So we had Lance Corporals stepping up into that role. They'd practiced doing the job on JCOVE which meant they could step up to the plate.'
You can see pictures of me and some soldiers having a go on JCOVE below.