After the capture the flag exercise, the recruits advance to a live ammo exercise. In this one, the recruits have weapons loaded with live ammo and surge in waves over embankments. They wear the same special vests they did in the prior exercise that detect when they are hit with a laser, flashing briefly with red lights on the front and back and thereafter delivering a debilitating shock to the wearer until the game is over. As they approach the next embankment, dummies automatically rise up and fire lasers randomly towards the recruits. The recruits shoot to destroy the dummies, making it safe to advance to the next embankment.
During the exercise, recruit Breckinridge’s helmet suffers a malfunction, and Rico foolishly helps him remove it to try and fix it. A nearby recruit is hit with a laser, who in her shock fires her weapon spastically and accidentally fatally shoots Breckinridge in the head.
There was some good discussion on the War Game Equipment post about whether or not practicing against human-like targets is warranted and wise. Instead, we can focus on how this happened in the first place.There are so many technological options.
- Rubber bullets first.
- The weapons should know when they are aiming at allies and not fire but register the shot.
- The weapons should know when their soldier is shocked, and lock up so they can’t fire. After all, the shock is not a common thing to happen on the field, so why ask soldiers to practice controlling a weapon during it.
- The helmet should know when it’s unbuckled on the field, and shut down the exercise on the spot.
These devices can be unlocked after the soldiers prove themselves competent with these constraints. Any good learning design should ease learners into skills that could prove fatal.