Royal Artillery Gochen Medal Awarded to UAS Simulation Developer

The Royal Artillery (RA) Gochen Medal is an annual award given for noteworthy service to the RA by a Serving NCO or Soldier. The 2012 award was presented to Sgt Spriggs of 32 Regt RA who epitomised the resourcefulness of a SNCO within the British Army. His contributions to training for Ops through simulation are excellent and have also saved money in the long run.

Sgt Spriggs’ contribution to the evolution of simulator-based training across the RA and Army has been immense. His sustained development of the Virtual Battlefield Simulator (VBS) 2 system has been exceptional and the developments which he has initiated have been re-invested across the Army. His unique skill and expertise in the design, planning and execution of simulation scenarios have transformed collective training. They’ve also made him a recognised expert and advisor to others, including the Royal School of Artillery and the Combined Arms Staff Trainer.

The introduction of the HERMES 450 Tactical Unmanned Air System (TUAS) Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) to Afghanistan posed the RA with a significant training problem; the aircraft could not be flown in the UK and there was no simulator-based training provision for this capability. Recognising such a significant training gap for each of the UAS batteries deploying to Camp Bastion, Sgt Spriggs set about turning an empty vehicle hangar into a complex and fully worked-up TUAS collective training tool. The effort required to engineer this transformation was considerable and the facility was created entirely in-house and outside normal working hours. Sgt Spriggs was instrumental in the creation of this fully networked and theatre-authentic battery training facility, which included an operations room, replica Ground Control Station compartments for the TUAS Single Console Trainers and a control hub. The flying characteristics of the HERMES were painfully replicated in VBS2 and even aircraft-induced camera-shake was faithfully replicated, adding additional levels of authenticity and realism. In a further layer of complexity he created a comprehensive communications network for the training facility which included the Joint Chat System and net simulations for Bastion Air Traffic Control, the US Marine Corps and ISTAR Tactical Parties. These essential training features, including a representation of Camp Bastion, were only made possible by long hours and the uniquely imaginative programming skills of Sgt Spriggs. Working as the Directing Staff for this training facility, he and the Regimental Training Team developed a complex and hugely effective pre-deployment exercise for the deploying UAS battery; all of it through simulation.

Sgt Spriggs has continued to develop the UAS training facility in to a cutting-edge collective training simulator which now provides an excellent means of testing each deploying UAS battery. It also provides a first class means of mission rehearsal and has been a key part in the successful development of safe and effective UAS operations in Afghanistan. His contribution to the UAS success story has been immense and his work has been studied and replicated by other collective training organisations. The imagination and drive which Sgt Spriggs has displayed in developing this unique training facility have been in the best traditions of the Royal Regiment of Artillery.

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