In 2007, the Canadian Forces acquired 150 VBS2 licenses for use at CFB Valcartier. They later reacquired another 500 licenses for the rest of the Canadian Armed Forces. The overview on the website states that Virtual Battlespace 2 (VBS2) is a comprehensive open platform with proven capability for training, simulation and development. Next generation gaming technology is adapted to provide collective military and first responder tactical training and mission rehearsal worldwide.

Canada is not the only country who is using VBS2 for training purposes. The US army, USMC, ADF (Australian Defence Forces), NZDF (New Zealand Defence Forces) and the UK MOD are also using it.

But can a computer game replace standard training in the field? I really don’t think so!

Firstly, the new generation of soldiers mostly comes from urban centers where the main entertainment is either a game console or a PC. So we can assume that most of the newest recruits have been familiarised with war-type games.

There is a huge difference between firing a rifle by pressing a button than actually squeezing a trigger. Unfortunately with the recent budget cuts, Canadian Commanders are really looking into using platform such as VBS2 to train their already bored soldiers.

Brigadier-General Denis Thompson affirmed that CANSOFCOM could be using it aswell. While he was interviewed by The Canadian Press, he confirmed that they were seriously looking at it as a complementary asset but it wouldn’t replace real-time drills.

This makes me wonder if the regular troops will have the same philosophy. The military cuts could go up to 2.5 billion dollars by 2015. In 2012, the Canadian Defence budget was 22.6 billion dollar (1.3% GDP), the 14th biggest military spender in the world. Just so you can compare, the United States spent 682 billion dollars (2.2% GDP) for their Defence in 2012.  So basically, the Canadian Forces are getting an 11% budget cuts, which is huge considering we are massively investing in our shipbuilding program and the F35s that aren’t really the best to protect our Arctic.

With those cuts, there are already projects such as the Close Combat Vehicle (CCV) who were abandoned. So it goes without saying that there will be a lot less money for gas and ammunition for the soldiers on the ground.