April 11, 2022

Into the Military Metaverse: An empty buzzword or a virtual resource for the Pentagon?

Featuring Jennifer McArdle

Source: Breaking Defense

Journalist Andrew Eversden

Years before the word “metaverse” existed, the Pentagon was experimenting with the broad concept of interconnected virtual worlds. In 1978, Air Force Capt. Jack Thorpe published a paper outlining a web of networked simulators for distributed mission planning. Years later, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency picked up the project, dubbed Simulator Networking (SIMNET), which later transitioned to the Army.

“If a metaverse is simply a series of interconnected virtual worlds, you could argue that there’s been very kind of clunky metaverses in the military since the 90s,” McArdle said.


The “most perfect” concept of a military metaverse, as McArdle put it, would seamlessly stitch together the underpinnings of soldiers’ virtualized environments for training, education, experimentation and social life, with the final product being “this rich data that seamlessly moves between these virtual worlds that really kind of provides this holistic insight of the individual person,” though she added that “it’s going to be very hard to get there.”

Refining data exchanges between those “worlds” to where information could be passed between them could fundamentally change the relationship between war games, experiments such as Project Convergence, and training. Rather than one-off events, these could merge into something akin to a permanent training event that builds day after day.

“You could have data and information flow across each of these events so you’re iterating on it in a far more effective way,” McArdle said. “Now, if you could then take all that information that you’re iterating on as you’re developing new concepts of operation, or new tactics, techniques, and procedures — all that could then immediately be fed into a training environment, where you’re training your warfighters to use those new concepts of operation or those new TTPs immediately and there’s not a large gap between it.”

Read the full story and more from Breaking Defense.


  • Jennifer McArdle

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Defense Program, Head of Research, Improbable U.S. Defense and National Security

    Jennifer McArdle is an Adjunct Senior Fellow with the Defense Program at CNAS and the head of research at Improbable, an emerging global leader in distributed simulation techn...