The Insurgent Methods Trainer – Network Enhanced Trainer-A VBS2 module

Earlier this year we interviewed a co-founder of CPG, Chief Operations Officer and Senior Scientist Jennifer Phillips. Today she explains why her latest product, the IMT NET virtual environment, is an integral part of C-IED training. If you’d like additional information about IMT NET or any of the DTT tools, please contact Jenni Phillips at .

In the counterinsurgency environments our Marines and Soldiers have encountered over roughly the past decade, units on the ground have had to operate against complex enemy networks. The understanding and conceptualization of the enemy as an insurgent network is not new to our military forces, or to our nation’s intelligence services. It became clear early on that the people we were fighting lived among the general population, recruited new members by force, intimidation, or just pure economic incentive, hid in plain sight, communicated quickly and efficiently, and were altogether difficult to recognize and thus combat. We have also learned the hard way in many cases that our own behaviors, purposeful or inadvertent and accidental, can result in individuals who were once supportive of American involvement turning to support the insurgent side of the battle. For our young Warfighters on the ground, it has been, in a word, complex.

As part of the counter-IED battle, the military and its support contractors have produced a range of technologies and equipment to defeat IEDs themselves, but also to track and attack insurgent networks. For the most part, attack-the-network activities took place at battalion echelon and above, with relatively recent involvement of company-level organizations. Fewer resources have been allocated toward supporting the small units on the ground – the eyes and ears of our military – in understanding the nature of networks and training to defeat them.

CPG, under the sponsorship of the Joint IED Defeat Organization and the guidance of the Marine Corps Program Manager for Training Systems, has been creating a simulation-based training system to support the training of small unit leaders in understanding how enemy (and noncombatant) networks operate and succeed. The system, called IMT NET (for Insurgent Methods Training – Network Enhanced Training), is a module in VBS2 and builds off the original IMT system. IMT used a perspective-taking training approach, by situating trainees in the role of an insurgent attacking convoys with IEDs. Learners would gain first hand experience thinking from the enemy’s point of view and considering the tactics of IED attacks. In the IMT NET, we take the training a step further. Learners role play various members of the insurgent network and not only attack with IEDs, but also conduct the activities “left of boom” leading up to the ability of a network to attack with an IED. These activities include influencing and exploiting local populations, purchasing and transporting supplies, surveilling candidate attack sites, and recruiting individuals to do the dirty work of emplacing or triggering the IED.

The IMT NET is purposefully designed to train general principles of operating against enemy networks, irrespective of a specific culture or enemy attack tactics. Our military believes that operations in the foreseeable future will take place against terrorist, insurgent, or criminal networks. This means small units will need to continue to be prepared to recognize a bad guy in a sea of good guys, collect information from locals that will help paint the picture of the enemy network, and report relevant information to higher headquarters to support their assessment and tracking of individual members of the network.

IMT NET is one component of the Decision Training Toolkit (DTT), which also includes a Scenario Design Tool for decision-centered training scenarios, and a C-IED Assessment Tool to measure cognitive performance on complex counter-IED tasks at the small unit level. We expect to release IMT NET after the turn of the new year.

Written by Jennifer Phillips (Senior Scientist, CPG)
Video Produced by Brandon Woodhouse (Military Analyst, CPG)


About the Author:


Cognitive Performance Group, LLC is a woman-owned small business with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded by Dr. Karol G. Ross, Jennifer K. Phillips, and William A. Ross. The three CPG Principals developed the concept for a company to support cognitive performance improvement in industry and government. (more...)

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