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Preparing French Army soldiers for collective air-land combat

Army regiments are progressively being equipped with new weapon systems for the era of collaborative air-land combat. In this context, the French Army must intensify the training of its soldiers in order to have an army ready for high-intensity combat and a major engagement. Introducing the CERBERE program, which meets this need, with Laurent Barraco, VP France of Thales Training & Simulation, and Major Jacques, CERBERE program officer.
What is the Army's stated objective?

Laurent Barraco: Its objective is to have a system that enables them to train and monitor joint sub-groups on all their operational capabilities, in particular those resulting from the Scorpion program, especially the Griffon, Jaguar and renovated Leclerc with their various munitions, the SICS information system, and the Contact radio unit.

What is the proposed response?

Laurent Barraco: Through the CERBERE programme (Centres d'Entraînement Représentatifs des Espaces de Bataille Et de Restitution des Engagements), Thales and Ruag Defence France are bringing a new dimension to training. It comprises an instrumented simulation system that enables the various joint units to be prepared for high and low intensity engagements, implementing all their operational capabilities in a variety of conditions that are very close to reality.

CERBERE is a new-generation training tool that realistically simulates, tracks and analyses force engagements in urban or open environments by implementing visual and sound animation devices as well as laser systems installed on weapons, allowing for the reproduction of the combat environment with maximum realism. It also allows for detailed after-action analysis, using combat videos, voice and data exchange recordings, and attrition generated by combat fire simulators thanks to information systems and combatant geolocation systems.

What other innovations are specific to CERBERE?

Laurent Barraco: The system provides precise geolocation monitoring in real time of each combatant and of events in the theatre of operations, including inside buildings. From the operations centre or, as close to the action as possible, from their touch-screen tablet, instructors have tools to analyse manoeuvres and confrontations, which can last up to 96 hours. The capabilities of the training centres have also been enhanced by powerful downstream analysis tools.

How does CERBERE work in the field?

Laurent Barraco: The first operational capability of the CERBERE training system, already deployed at the CENZUB urban combat training centre in Sissonne, northern France, enables exercises of 500 infantrymen and their 80 vehicles on a 120 km² terrain, which is the size of a town of 3,000 inhabitants. By 2023, the additional capacities delivered by Thales and RUAG Defence France to the CENZUB, and then to the CENTAC centre in Mailly-le-Camp, north-eastern France, will enable 1,000 infantrymen and 250 vehicles to be trained simultaneously at each of the centres, contributing to a change in scale in the Army's training system.

What is the point of view of the main stakeholders, the users?

Major Jacques: In periods of operational readiness, land force joint sub-groups need to train in a realistic environment, as close as possible to combat conditions. They also need to be monitored and advised by tactical experts in order to progress. CERBERE is truly the tool that meets these two requirements.

What do you especially appreciate?

Major Jacques: I particularly appreciate the precise manoeuvre monitoring equipment that allows tactical advisors to instantly analyse actions carried out in the field, and to produce a high-quality after-action analysis, which is essential for bringing sub-groups to an optimal operational level. Finally, I would like to emphasize the combination of CERBERE technology with the tactical expertise of the training centres, which I consider to be an essential factor in the hardening of the training of forces in the Scorpion era.