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Virtual Staff Rides

 

The Army University Press virtual staff ride (VSR) consists of simulated terrain built in a 3D virtual environment produced largely from satellite imagery, digital terrain elevation data, photographs, video, and first-hand accounts. The Staff Ride Team developed its first VSR in 2005 as a means to study Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Since then, the team has developed multiple VSRs to replicate terrain that Army organizations cannot readily access from the Continental United States.

The Staff Ride Team follows the same three-phased approach to a virtual staff that we follow for the more traditional ground staff ride as outlined in The Staff Ride. For the field phase of the virtual staff ride, we normally travel to the requesting organization’s venue. The VSR has some particular setup and support requirements as detailed here. Visit our FAQs for more information on how we conduct virtual staff rides or view an example of a VSR that the team conducted for the University of Hawaii’s Army ROTC program here.

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Available Virtual Staff Rides

 

We currently offer downloadable content for Stalingrad and the Battles of the Korean War. Click on the images below to download materials.

Please check back for more downloadable content involving our other Staff Ride options.

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Stalingrad
(1942-1943)

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Battles of the Korean War
(1951)

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The Encirclement of Nancy
(1944)

 

 

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Okinawa
(1945)

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Operation Anaconda
(2002)

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OIF March to Baghdad
(2003)

 

 

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Ambush of the 507th Maintenance Company
(2003)

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Battle of Fallujah
(2004)

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Palm Sunday Ambush
(2005)

 

 

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Check Point 541
(2005)

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Battle of Wanat
(2008)

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Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Staff Ride Team has developed a way to conduct our virtual staff rides remotely over MS Teams. For this option, we ask the organization to host the Teams meeting and to invite our instructor team to attend. Staff Ride Team personnel will connect to the Teams meeting from our classroom on Fort Leavenworth. Once the meeting begins, the staff ride historian and the computer tech will alternate sharing their screens for all participants. Though not as effective as conducting the VSR in person, the remote VSR serves as a suitable alternative when the staff ride instructor team and the participants cannot meet in-person.

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MS Teams Instructor Podium

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MS Teams Computer Tech Workstation

Building a Virtual Staff Ride

Building a Virtual Staff Ride
 
 

The Staff Ride Team endeavors to build new virtual staff rides every year. We program our VSR builds 3-5 years into the future and balance our builds between traditional staff rides and virtual staff rides. Virtual Staff ride builds come from three sources: CAC/AU directives, internally, and requests from the field. The Staff Ride Team Chief recommends the order and priority of staff ride builds through the chain of command to the Army University Provost for approval. Building a virtual staff ride is a lengthy project that involves both historians and virtual terrain developers. Historians build products for all three phases of the VSR and includes historical and doctrinal research, writing and editing, creating visual aids, and visits to the actual terrain whenever possible. Virtual developers work in concert with historians to build virtual terrain as historically accurate as possible. See graphic depiction for the steps involved in building a virtual staff ride and a general timeline: