US Army soldiers train in War Thunder during a pandemic

US Army 1st Cavalry tankers stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, play massively multiplayer online games to hone their combat skills and keep fit. Their choice is War Thunder. In the game, they use full-fledged tactics of tank units and real combat procedures.

Soldiers, like all ordinary people, are not at all immune to COVID-19 (4, 912 cases and 2 deaths have been recorded in the US Army to date). According to military regulations, a sufficiently large number of sick people in one unit makes it not subject to mobilization. Therefore, the command transfers the soldiers to the "protection of manpower" mode (analogous to civil self-isolation) and sends them to train at military bases. Including - in online games and simulators.

This is how the soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division describe a typical "play" day:

“The day begins with a briefing from the platoon commander, followed by a hearing. These include, for example, compulsory reading of training manuals. Then the crews gather on the net and start training. At the end of the day, there is a mandatory debriefing, which discusses the day's "fights" and methods of optimizing tactics. "

An interesting nuance - playing War Thunder allows crew members to look at teamwork from a new angle. The fact is that each member of the standard crew (commander, shooter, loader and driver) in the game gets his own tank and tries on all these roles at once. For example, the loader, who usually sees nothing but the bolt of the main gun, suddenly becomes the tank commander and sees the whole picture of the battlefield. Now he has to think over the tactics of his own car and organically fit into the maneuvers of a whole platoon.

Another interesting nuance - tankers of the 1st Cavalry Division have real combat experience in life, but in the game they must start from the lowest technical level (in the photo you can see a unit soldier who plays on an M2 medium tank, which belongs to the 30s of the past century and outdated even before the outbreak of World War II). Gradually, the soldiers increase their level and get to the "real" vehicles, like their usual M1A2 Abrams tanks - but this requires serious effort and time.

Tank M2 during a combat operation, January 1941