Virtual convoy simulator
Retired paratrooper Ronnie Bland is the senior enabler on a life-sized, virtual convoy-skills trainer called the Special operations reconfigurable vehicle tactical trainer. “I wish we had something like this when I was in,” said the former signal soldier, who deployed for Desert Shield/Desert Storm and twice for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Housed in a half-dozen trailers on the edge of Fort Bragg’s weapons ranges, the convoy simulator incorporates four life-sized Humvees, each surrounded by screens with synchronised projected video of a mission scenario.
Each Humvee is outfitted with a field radio, GPS-based “Blue Force Tracker,” and weapon options that include an assortment of machine guns, grenade launchers, rifles and anti-tank devices.
“We see the Tactical Trainer as a way for our soldiers to learn the fundamentals of battle drills without having to dispatch vehicles and draw weapons,” said Captain Robyn Boehringer, commander of a company that provides forward support to paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 1st Brigade Combat Team.
The virtual training was a prelude to live-fire training her company is scheduled to participate in within a month or two, she said.
Inside the trainer, the life-sized graphics, realistic sounds and pneumatically induced weapon recoil can be tailored to a unit’s requests, said Bland. One room houses an array of monitors that acts as a tactical operations centre during missions and as a debriefing room for after-action reviews during which missions can be replayed from a variety of viewpoints on several monitors simultaneously, he said.
Soldiers can practise maintaining vehicle-spacing intervals, using the radios, plotting routes and sending messages on the Blue Force Tracker, and reacting to enemy contact from roadside bombs, small-arms fire, tanks, aircraft and minefields.