Imagine this. You and your unit are outside the wire in Iraq, traveling down a dusty road in your Humvee, conducting a routine patrol of the area. The sun is shining, the air is hot like an oven, and no one is walking the streets. You look around, notice the empty landscape of the city, and think to yourself, "This is weird. Where are all the villagers'"

Just then an enormous explosion erupts from an improvised explosive device, hurling you and your team inside the Humvee upside-down and into a small ditch filled with water. The vehicle is on fire and quickly filling with water. What do you do'

"Don't panic," said Staff Sgt. Michael Bell, a platoon sergeant with Bravo Company, 832nd Ordnance Battalion.

On Jan. 21, Soldiers from Bravo Company gathered for a day of training in weapons qualification and survival.

"We're trying to familiarize the Soldiers with the rollover procedures in a Humvee and also give the Soldiers another chance to fire at a M16 weapons range," Bell said.

"The Humvee simulates being upside-down and does a really good job of showing the Soldiers what that feels like," he said. "You never know what's going to happen to you outside the wire in theater and this is the best Humvee training around to give you a better idea."

"The reason we're here at the EST 2000 Weapons Training is to give the Soldiers the opportunity to qualify on an M16 (rifle) prior to graduating and moving to their first unit and assignment," added Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Wells, also a Bravo Company platoon sergeant.

"This gives the Soldiers a chance to build on the skills they already have from basic training," Wells continued. "It also is a reinforcement of a skill that some Soldiers might lose because they are here in training for such a long time. It's just another chance to practice and to better oneself."

The EST 2000 can best be summed up as a giant videogame. The screen of the EST 2000 is the size of a building, and the Soldiers firing at the screen use real M16s hooked up to a computer.

"The computer provides feedback to where the Soldier's rounds are landing and how the Soldier might need to make any adjustments," Wells said. "The computer is very beneficial to us (the cadre) getting to help the Soldiers make instant corrections, all to better train them.

"I really hope this prepares them when they get to their first assignment. I also hope it helps their future (noncommissioned officers). If these Soldiers continue to train now, the better they will be and the more time their future NCOs will have training them in other areas. These Soldiers might be deploying once they get to their units and any extra time they can get at a range will benefit them in the long run."

To qualify at the EST 2000, a Soldier must hit 23 pop-up targets to receive marksmanship, 33 to receive sharpshooter and 38 and above to receive expert.

But where the EST 2000 teaches the trainee Soldiers to become better shooters, the Humvee simulation teaches them how to survive.

"The thing I try to focus on is teaching the Soldiers confidence and patience," Bell said. "These Soldiers need to know that if something goes wrong, they can never give up. They have to stay calm and never quit.

"When they get inside the Humvee and it starts to roll over, they have to yell 'rollover' to make sure everyone else inside is aware of what's happening. Once they are upside down, they all have to unlock their doors to get out. The next time through, we only unlock one door, and they won't know which one that will be. They have to work together to quickly find the unlocked door and exit the vehicle as a team."

For one Soldier, this training is important to his survival during a possible deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.

"Today, we are simulating an IED explosion hitting a Humvee, causing a rollover, and firing M16 rifles at the EST 2000," said Pvt. Richard Burba, a Soldier with Bravo Company. "This training is important to our survival in battle. If your Humvee rolls over and the door jams, with this training you know how to get out and get your team out alive.

"With my job, 94M, we ride everywhere in Humvees, so this is really important training for me to be a part of," Burba said. "It does give me more confidence toward deploying. I never knew how these doors opened or even how heavy they were (the doors weigh anywhere from 85 to 100 pounds), but now I have a better understanding and I think that this will help me in the long run."

Said Bell, "If these Soldiers already have this training under their belts before they make it to their next unit, the better off they will be. Any training you get is great training and will only make you a better Soldier over time. This training gives them the confidence they need when they face any challenges ahead. Through tough training like this, they know they can overcome anything."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16