Contractors Take Basic Training
Staff Sgt. James McClintock, drill sergeant, 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment, shows an America's Army employee the finer points of operating a .50-caliber machine gun Nov. 8 at Bastogne Range.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. (Army News Service, Nov. 15, 2007) -- The developers of America's Army, the official video game series of the U.S. Army, spent four days on Fort Jackson recently learning what it is like to transition from civilian to Soldier.

From Nov. 5-9, civilian contractors from across the country -- including America's Army Public Applications in Emeryville, Calif.; Redstone Arsenal, Ala.; and Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. - went through a mini-Basic Combat Training which included physical training, drill and ceremony, Victory Tower and weapons firing at Bastogne Range on Fort Jackson.

The original PC version of America's Army - subtitled Recon- launched July 4, 2002, and has been downloaded more than 40 million times, making it one of the most popular PC video games of all time. Since its release, subsequent PC versions and versions for Xbox and mobile phones have also been developed.

Owned by the U.S. government and originally developed as a global public relations initiative, America's Army is a multi-player, first-person shooter game simulating the Army experience from basic training to the battlefield.

Players are bound by rules of engagement and must adhere to the seven Army Core Values to accomplish missions.

Developers' experiences during their stay at Fort Jackson should help make Version 3.0 - scheduled for release September 2008 - the most realistic version yet.

"This will help keep this the most authentic Army game out there," said John Carlisle, account director, Ignited Marketing. "It's good to get the developers behind a machine gun because usually those guys are the ones rendering it in three dimensions, putting it into the game. So, you want them to understand the action of the weapon, the procedure by which ammo is loaded and the weapon cleared."

Mr. Carlisle, a former Army officer, said the technical aspect is important, but there is more to learn about Army life that can benefit mini-BCT participants both professionally and personally.

"They'll understand being a Soldier isn't just about shooting, it's about camaraderie, teamwork, being a unit and sharing a common experience," he said. "That's the real strength of the Army."

Mr. Carlisle said he applauds the efforts of the employees who took on the challenge.

"All of these people volunteered because they wanted to walk in a Soldier's boots a little bit," he said. "These are folks that have been working at a desk behind a computer, living a fairly good civilian life coming out here to do the things basic recruits do; march, set up bivouacs, live in the barracks - they all came here with the idea this would make them better at their jobs, but I don't think they realized this will make them better, period."

After four days of waking up at 5 a.m., eating in dining facilities, marching around post and living a Soldier's existence, America's Army employees graduated mini-BCT Friday and, after watching the 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment graduation ceremony, headed back to their respective companies.

Clayton Montgomery, AAPA associate designer, is excited about the knowledge he took back with him.

"I already had a great respect for Soldiers, but this experience has increased that," he said. "It was really awesome for them to set this up for us. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance and it's really awesome to be a part of that."

(Heath Hamacher writes for the Leader newspaper at Fort Jackson)

Page last updated Thu November 15th, 2007 at 14:49