Simulated training saves money, prepares Soldiers for combat
May 5, 2014
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - In this day and age of sequestration, the Army is continuously seeking ways to maintain their demanding training in a fiscally-constrained environment.
The 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., brought Capt. William Tveten, a native of Lakewood, Wash., and branch certified simulations operations officer, onboard to ensure this happened.
"Capt. Tveten does a great job of making sure we understand what different types of assets are out there," said Maj. Adam Latham, the brigade's executive officer. "It makes us a better trained force because it allows us to get more repetitions in a digital environment, so when we do go out, and we're actually shooting live bullets and live maneuvers ... we're not wasting time, we're not wasting ammunition on target misses or teaching a guy the basics of how to utilize a system."
Tveten, a recent addition to the Arrowhead brigade, explains that saving money for the Army is the priority these days and simulated training is one of the ways they are accomplishing that.
"It's estimated that for every 10 minutes in the trainer you're saving the Army $44. So multiply that by however many units and personnel you put through that thing," and you've saved a lot of money, said Tveten.
Tveten added that the initial cost to set up simulations can be expensive, but it pays for itself in short order so long as it gets utilized.
"As long as simulation is assisting in readiness and deployment readiness and saving the military money, it's only going to get bigger," he stated.
Tveten explained that simulators, such as the Virtual Battle Space 2, provide credible, simulated wartime conditions that allow Arrowhead Soldiers to realistically simulate driving Strykers, conducting patrols, and engaging in close combat, without any danger to themselves or their comrades. The VBS2 also allows the simulations operators the ability to set the weather conditions, monitor the Soldier's battle actions, and is even able to import actual map data from sites such as Google Maps, which adds to the realism of the training.
"We can build (different training and battlefield scenarios) in VBS 2, and our Soldiers can simulate driving that Stryker down to the firing position and conducting rehearsal gunnery," Tveten said. "The terrain would literally look like what it's going to look like out there. It's computer graphics, so it's not perfect but it's going to save time because when a unit gets out there it's going to seem familiar to them."
The idea behind simulations is to prepare Soldiers within the Arrowhead brigade for upcoming training but at a fraction of the cost of live training.
"Is it a replacement for live training? Absolutely not," Tveten said, "but it's a good way to save money and get the weapons fundaments prior to ... going to shoot live ammunition."
Latham agrees. He points out that simulated training has helped make the Arrowhead Brigade a better trained force when it does finally hit the live fire range because they are not expending live ammunition to do basic level training.
"We're using ammunition to do upper-echelon type stuff," Latham said. "It saves us time; it saves the taxpayer money. In the end it ensures that we're better trained to do what our country needs us to do."