Aug. 20, 2010

Guard Cavalry unit from Virginia uses high-tech simulator 

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va. — The Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team participated in virtual training Aug. 9-14 on the largest set up of Close Combat Tactical Trainers ever assembled in one place during annual training at Fort Pickett. The 18-trailer CCTT, a virtual reality simulator, was set up at Fort Pickett  and provides realistic battlefield training on simulated Bradley Fighting Vehicle and M1A2 Abrams tank platforms.


1st Lt. Mark Ford, a platoon leader for 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team monitors the radio and the virtual battlefield from a command post trailer during a simulated mission on the Close Combat Tactical Trainer Aug. 14 during annual training at Fort Pickett. The CCTT is a series of interconnected simulators where Soldiers can rehearse battlefield scenarios. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“We’ve got 18 simulators here working right now,” said Maj. Thomas Garner, operations officer for the squadron. “We can get 18 crews all looking at the same piece of terrain, all interacting together, which out in a real-world training environment would take a long time to do with a lot of overhead.”

Although the 2nd Squadron out of Virginia is a light cavalry unit, and its main vehicles are Humvees, training on the 14 Bradley platforms was as effective as training on Humvee simulators, according to Garner. It allowed the squadron to train troops on proper reporting, situational awareness, convoy techniques, mounted land navigation, and a host of other skills in platoon -sized formations with this large networking of simulators.  

“The Soldiers are still having to perform the same basic functions regardless of the platform,” said Garner. “The communications technology in these simulators is the same as the squadron uses on their organic vehicles.”

The CCTT is a mobile system housed in a tractor trailer and the simulators used for the training replicate the Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M1A2 Tank. The Soldiers used the simulators to train on tactical movement and specialized cavalry missions of zone reconnaissance and security screen.  They were also able to use the simulators to train for convoy security and route clearance missions.


Maj. Thomas Garner, the operations officer for the 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team, enters the confined space of the driver's compartment of a M1A2 Abrams Tank simulator Aug. 14. The Soldiers of the 2nd-183rd utilized the Close Combat Tactical Trainer simulators during annual training at Fort Pickett. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

With 14 Bradley simulators and four Abrams simulators, the CCTT crew was able to provide realistic training to the troops with the ability to see 360 degrees on the simulated battlefield from inside the trailers. The team running the simulators was able to surprise the troops with improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades, small-arms fire and artillery attacks. The simulators can also be loaded with actual forward operating bases and the roads of Baghdad, where Soldiers may potentially be running missions in real life.

“If a unit is going to Baghdad and they give us a map of where their FOB is going to be, we can actually build their FOB exactly where they’re going to be,” said Jerry Rushing, a computer-based training instructor with the CCTT.”We can build routes going out, so they can run missions just like they would see in Baghdad.”

“They get a lot out of it because it’s so interactive and reactive,” Garner reported about the Soldiers in the simulators. “It also lets them operate at a collective level that they don’t get a chance to do very often. It’s really preparing them for what they have to do, and if they make a mistake, the simulator can easily be reset, so that in five minutes they’re back at the start point.”

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