In Brief

Soldier charged with killing comrades in virtual battlefield

Army rifleman becomes first soldier to be punished under UK military law for offences in a virtual scenario

An Edinburgh soldier has been formally charged after going on a killing spree against his comrades in a virtual battlefield exercise.

According to the Mail on Sunday, the soldier was using a computer-based simulated battlefield in which he “shot dead one of his comrades and destroyed vehicles to kill several others”. The paper says his actions “amused fellow soldiers, but commanders accused him of lacking professionalism”.

The rifleman, who has not been named, is believed to be the first soldier to be punished under UK military law for offences in a virtual scenario rather than in real life. He was reprimanded after the exercise and later formally charged with disobeying orders. His punishment is to spend a weekend carrying out guard duties at the 3 Rifles base at Redford Barracks in the Scottish capital.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the man is said to have been “fed-up with being stuck at a computer rather than training outside”. A source from his battalion claimed they had spent two weeks sitting in front of laptops “pretending we were in a really hostile urban environment”.

“I'd challenge anyone to take it seriously for that long. All this was taking place in an office at our headquarters, when we'd rather be doing real-life soldiering outside in the fresh air,” the source added. “But there's less of that sort of exercise these days because the Army has committed to Unit-based Virtual Training.”

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “We take the training of our service personnel very seriously and anyone who is disruptive to this training will receive disciplinary action.

“Virtual reality training programmes are able to deliver greater flexible training and replicate complex scenarios allowing for rapid experimentation, development of tactics and ability to test new vehicles in multiple environments.”

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