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.

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