|Soldiers Take Aim on Virtual Battlefield |
Soldiers Take Aim on Virtual Battlefield
By Brendalyn Carpenter, Army News Service.
Washington D.C. -- (ANS) August 2, 2000 -- A new virtual interactive training center opened at Fort Carson, Colo., Aug. 2.
The Close Combat Tactical Trainer is designed to train armor, mechanized, and cavalry units from platoon through battalion level using simulated Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and other combat vehicles.
By 2004, a total of eight stateside installations are expected to have fully operational CCTT's along with two overseas installations.
Soldiers at Fort Stewart have been training on the CCTT for close to two years, an official said. Other installations with CCTT's include Fort Knox, Ky., Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Hood, Texas. Two CCTT sites are located at Fort Hood, which was the first installation fielded with the simulators. Additional sites will open at Fort Riley in 2001 and Fort Lewis in 2003, according to the U.S. Army Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation Command in Orlando, Fla. CCTT "quick start" sites operating with a limited number of modules have been fielded in Graferwoehr, Germany and Camp Casey, Korea, and they are expected to be operating at full capacity by 2002.
Fort Carson's new training center consists of 31 simulators, which cost about $1 million each and sit in an area the size of three-quarters of a football field, said a Fort Carson spokesperson. An estimated savings of about $5 million a year is expected by using the simulators, the spokesperson said.
"This system allows soldiers to gain proficiency on low-level tasks such as battle drills, reaction to contact, and breaching drills at the platoon and company level prior to going to the field, said David H. Eby, Fort Carson's CCTT site manager. "So when they go to the field they optimize that time because they can concentrate on higher-level tasks."
Crew members train in modules that replicate the performance of actual combat vehicles, officials said. The simulators include individual stations for the tank commander, gunner, loader, and driver. Commanders and other staff members provide additional support such as artillery, mortar, combat engineers, and logistics units using computer workstations in mock-up command posts.
Computer monitors provide images of realistic terrain including urban and rural scenes, forests, hills, rivers, and roads. Crew members have an unobstructed 360-degree field of view through an open hatch, and the ability to scan for targets through a rotating vision block.
Simulators are also equipped with firing effects such as muzzle flash, ballistic detonation, and fire and smoke designed to replicate the real battlefield conditions. Virtual training exercises can be started any time during a 24-hour period and simulate weather conditions such as rain, fog, and variations in visibility.
"It's an excellent system where you can actually maneuver vehicles and conduct fire and control," said Sgt. 1st Class Paul S. Swinsinski, noncommissioned officer in charge, Simulations Division at Fort Stewart, Ga.
"It's just like being in the field when you're actually in a building," Swinsinski said. But it is important for soldiers to make sure they practice as if they were in the field rather than the simulator to get the full benefits of the training, he said.
Training soldiers in the simulator instead of sending them to the field reduces the cost of moving equipment, and providing gas, maintenance and ammunition used in real training exercises, said Sgt. 1st Class James Yocum, the Fort Carson Public Affairs noncommissioned officer in charge. Still, the simulator will be used to improve a soldier's performance rather than replace time in the field, Swinsinski said.
"A lot of units use the CCTT prior to final maneuvers for live-fire exercises to get the communications, positions, and fire and control down," he said. Training at Fort Carson will begin Aug. 7 with the first unit, 1st Battalion 68th Armor Division, doing hands-on certification.