FORT BENNING, Ga. (Jan. 31, 2013) -- A group of Columbus State University ROTC cadets were exposed to the role technology can play in training Soldiers on Friday when they visited Clarke Simulation Center to try their hands at the Dismounted Soldier Training System.

DSTS is a fully immersive virtual simulation training system that places users into a virtual environment, complete with enemy forces and environmental obstacles.

Capt. Austin DuFresne, assistant professor of military science at Columbus State, said the time the cadets, who are sophomores in college, spent with DSTS was intended to broaden their horizons rather than train them in squad tactics.

"The intent behind bringing them here is not necessarily to teach them Infantry tactics, but to expose them to all the different resources that are out there," DuFresne said. "We're training them to be future leaders, so giving them alternate training methods and showing them that they have things like this at their disposal could come in handy for them in the future. It's really hard to know what things are going to be like in two or three years when they are lieutenants in terms of what kinds of resources are going to be out there."

While the cadets do conduct live training at CSU, DSTS provided them with an environment where space was unlimited.

"We've done training out at the intramural fields at CSU, and we're out there with our rubber duck M16s or M4s," Cadet Zachary Howard said. "It was interesting being put into an environment where we could actually go 300 meters or 500 meters instead of just 30 feet on the intramural field."

In addition to the educational and training advantages of using DSTS, the cadets' trip to the facility was also something they were able to have fun with.

"You tell them that it's a video game that you get strapped into, and they're going to be excited about it," DuFresne said.

DSTS users are connected to a series of sensors that are placed on their arms and legs. A helmet with a flip-down virtual display provides the view into the virtual world, while movement is controlled via a joystick on the handle of the user's weapon.

The sensors enable the user to control their bodily position within the virtual environment.

While that may sound simple, it can take some time to become accustomed to new virtual surroundings.

"When we came here for leaders' recon, I actually strapped in myself and went through the whole thing," DuFresne said. "That helps you to kind of appreciate that it's not as easy as it looks."