Feb. 8, 2011

Fort Pickett adds the Army’s first mobile VICE trainer

By Capt. Matthew Nowak
Virginia Army Guard Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va. — The Fort Pickett Maneuver Training Center received the Virtual Interactive Combat Environment trainer at Fort Pickett’s range operations Feb. 2. Soldiers from MTC’s range operations were on hand to receive the first of three trailers and received basic operator training in running the system.

 

The Army’s first mobile Virtual Interactive Combat Environment trainer was delivered to the Maneuver Training Center at Fort Pickett Feb. 2. The VICE trainer is an infantry squad trainer that includes realistic scenarios using lifelike weapons. When fully fielded, the trainer will have three trailers that can link up to 13 Soldiers at once during a scenario. Soldiers can train in a virtual environment with real world locations. Trainers can watch and record how each Soldier reacts within the given scenario. (Photo by Capt. Matthew Nowak, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from the event on the Virginia National Guard Flickr site.

“We are very excited to get this new training device at Fort Pickett,” said Col. Tom Wilkinson, commander of the Maneuver Training Center. “It will greatly enhance our ability to support user units as well as better increase their readiness. The added benefit of it being a mobile device, we can easily cater to users and meet their needs while also saving money and resources.”

The VICE trailer is an infantry squad trainer that includes realistic scenarios using lifelike weapons and real world tactics. It can accommodate up to 13 Soldiers split up among the three trailers. Soldiers watch a large projection screen with surround sound that can look and feel like any number of scenarios cadre can load up.

The trainer can be mistaken for some current shooter video games, but it offers real training value to leaders. Today’s Soldiers might be familiar with the controls inside the scenario, but they may not be familiar with the tactics used.

Leaders can evaluate a squad before they go through a shoot house or an infantry lane. Training in the VICE trainer can work out some of the problems within the squad before they get out into the field. Soldiers will have to be aware that every move they make is being recorded for review later. During the review, significant events are coded in red such as flagging another Soldier or shooting a civilian. Leaders can point out mistakes in the virtual environment before Soldiers get out in the field. 

 

When fully fielded, the trainer will have three trailers that can link up to 13 Soldiers at once during a scenario. Soldiers can train in a virtual environment with real world locations. Trainers can watch and record how each Soldier reacts within the given scenario. (Photo by Capt. Matthew Nowak, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from the event on the Virginia National Guard Flickr site.

The VICE trainer has impressed me with its ability to teach Soldiers situational awareness on the battlefield, and more importantly, awareness of the locations of friendly forces,” said Col. Blake Ortner, commander of the 116th Brigade Combat Team. “The fact that it allows the Soldier to perform wearing a full combat load and provides real time feedback is a tremendous bonus for training.”
 
Unlike video games, the trainer uses weapons that replicate their size and weight of the actual weapon. The M4 rifle, M249 squad automatic rifle and M4 with the M203 grenade launcher are part of the arsenal Soldiers can carry in the scenario. When out of ammunition Soldiers must physically remove the magazine and replace it with a new one.

However, gamers will be familiar with the movement of the Soldier during the scenario. Attached to the weapon are two analog sticks, one for walking and the other for the weapon’s muzzle. The movement is comparable to what a video game has.

Scenarios from Iraq, Afghanistan, and even shoot houses can be loaded for training. If there isn’t one already in the system, programmers can be contracted to design a new one.

The entire system is mobile and can be transported to a location across Virginia. It takes about 20 minutes to set up once it arrives at a location. Any unit or service can request the use of the system. Units interested in using the system or having it relocated to their site for training need to submit a training request through the normal channels at Fort Pickett.

“I wish I had this when I was a squad leader,” said Sgt. 1st Class Randy Carter, the MOUT site noncommissioned officer in charge. “This is good for a walk phase going from ‘low ready’ to ‘ready’ and to get muzzle awareness. Squad leaders will need to make sure Soldiers take this seriously and not treat it as a just a video game.”

This is the first mobile system in the Army. Fort Dix and Fort Benning each have the system permanently in buildings.

In addition to the VICE trainer, Fort Pickett also has a few other virtual and specialized training devices. It has the virtual convoy trainer, the humvee and MRAP rollover trainers, an engagement skills trainer 2000 and the JIEDDO counter-improvised explosive device lane.

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