The tension in the room was palpable as the prototype of the Gaming Environment for Air Readiness system was booted. Program stakeholders loomed over the shoulders of anxious developers as the Marines of Marine Air Support Squadron 1 prepared their demonstration of the program. Unit leadership observed as the Marines worked through air-control scenarios while plotting points on their maps, giving commands to a simulated pilot programmed with artificial intelligence. The Marines who work in the Direct Air Support Center were training with only a desktop computer instead of using a large quantity of vehicles, gear, personnel, and time.
“The role of the DASC is to control airspace,” said 2nd Lt. Joseph B. Greer, an air-support control officer with MASS-1 who was testing the GEAR. “While aircraft are in that airspace, we’re the ones who are telling them where to go and how they will go, as in altitude or specified route. We can deconflict aircraft paths with other supporting arms, like artillery, just to make sure that everyone’s getting where they need to be safely.”
Marines that work in the DASC have an important role in military exercises involving aircraft. Controlling the ebb and flow of airspaces requires ample and continuous training, which can often be challenging to implement and maintain.