Stryker unit gives new gunnery training system first Armywide test run
June 19, 2009
By Don Kramer
FORT LEWIS, Wash. - A prodigious U.S. Army battlefield capability recently got cheaper and more lethal.
The first Advanced Gunnery Training System for the Stryker Mobile Gun System was unveiled June 5 at Fort Lewis' Battle Command Training Center by Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation and the Lockheed Martin Corporation.
"It's a great product; I'm extremely proud of it," said Maj. Leonard Newman, assistant project manager for the gunnery team of PEO Stri. "I'm glad to be able to bring this system to you today."
On Wednesday, three duty days later, Soldiers from 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division became the first Armywide to fire tables using the system for unit training.
The simulator replicates a Stryker MGS turret; inside, the gunner's seat is on the left, the vehicle commander's on the right. The driver sits in the "hole" of the vehicle in front of the gunner. Their hands are on familiar controls while scenarios unfold on screens in front of them.
"This is just the first step in an evolving process," Newman said. "It will culminate with MGS crews being able to do live virtual and constructive integrated training here at Fort Lewis."
Two other AGTSs will soon arrive on Fort Lewis to allow crews to coordinate the fires and movement of collective training.
Eight-wheeled vehicles with 105 mm mounted cannon, Stryker MGSs validated their combat power and versatility when 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division took them to Iraq in 2007 for the first time and drove them into the urban fight.
"There is no substitute for a large-caliber direct-fire weapon when you really need one," said Col. William Prior, I Corps Rear operations officer and former 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment commander. His Manchus were among the first to deploy with the systems.
Whether knocking down walls or obliterating snipers' cover, the MGS proved an invaluable weapon for 4th Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. leaders in Iraq.
"The MGS is a vital component of the combined arms team with the Stryker brigade combat team," Prior said. He called it an "unqualified success" in combat.
The downside came in gunnery; There was no training platform for the MGS short of firing live rounds.
The new gunnery trainer provides virtual-reality training for crews at a fraction of the time and dollars currently budgeted to send them to live-fire ranges.
With the AGTS, firing the MGS no longer requires a 110-mile trip to Yakima for Fort Lewis-based Stryker units; gunnery has become a home-station affair.
Prior said its density of Stryker brigades made the northwestern installation the appropriate place to introduce the first MGS simulator. The 3rd, 4th and 5th brigades of 2nd Inf. Div., all in final preparations for deployment, call Fort Lewis home.
"But it's also fitting because Fort Lewis, Wash., is the Army's lead in live virtual constructive and gaming training," Prior said. "Enabled by the incredible facilities that we have here at Fort Lewis and a standing dedicated work force of civilians and military that makes it happen, the AGTS is an important milestone in the continuing excellence of Fort Lewis in that arena."
The AGTS project took seven years to complete, said Trudy Ryan, lead system engineer for PEO Stri's Ground Combat Tactical Trainers, requiring parallel software upgrades as the MGS variant developed.
"I'm very happy we got it to them prior to their deploying," Ryan said.
The fielding team travels to Vilseck, Germany, to deliver the next system. After that, the armor school at Fort Knox receives two. Others are slated for delivery to Fort Wainwright, Alaska, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Don Kramer is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.