2nd Lt. Amanda Hassett, A Battery,1st Battalion 14th Field Artillery executive officer, talks Pfc. Herrick Kimball, ammunition specialist and truck commander, through a call for fires during a battery exercise in the Joint Fires Effects Training Simulator.

FORT SILL, Okla. -- When it comes to training for the battlefield, nothing beats real life scenarios.
On Fort Sill, one of the best training simulations for the field artillery Soldier is the Joint Fires Effects Training Simulator.

JFETS provides artillery Soldiers with a way to sustain and enhance core competencies needed in calling for fires. The biggest advantage of the JFETS program is the hands-on training it provides the unit while using the simulator.

Each simulator is fully equipped with the same radio and binocular equipment that is used on the battlefield. This allows Soldiers a more hands-on experience, not only with communicating over the radios but also operating the same type of binoculars used in combat.

A Battery, 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery, worked through a call for fires mission on the JFETS program in I-See-O Hall May 17-18.

In addition, the Soldiers used the Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder which many of them had never used before. The LLDR allows forward observers, forward air controllers, and Naval gunfire spot teams the ability to recognize targets in day, night and low-light conditions. They are then able to find the range to the target and calculate grid coordinates with the LLDR's GPS capability. The system then provides this information to other members of the digital battlefield. The system also includes a laser that can be used with laser-guided missiles and other laser seeking devices.

A Battery Soldiers trained in one of three different rooms built around a different terrain scenario.

About one-third of the Soldiers were in a simulator that was built to look like an abandoned house in Iraq, complete with the sounds typical of an Iraqi village. The Soldiers were amazed at not only the real life sounds but also the feel, as they looked out of the windows into an actual town.

Sgt. Christopher Villalobos, assistant ammunition section chief, said that the simulator looked very similar to a house he had entered during his deployment to Iraq.

The simulator also gave Soldiers a chance to pick out their own targets, which helped them identify targets that resembled enemy vehicles, many which had not been seen before.

Many of the Soldiers had not used a radio to call for fire, but using the JFETS simulator and having an instructor there to help assist made them feel more confident in their ability to talk on the radio clearly and concisely.

The other simulator Soldiers used was constructed to look like a hillside that allowed Soldiers a more overhead view of the town. Soldiers in this room sat behind a man-made observation point on an incline that made it feel as though they were on an actual hillside. The Soldiers' most recurring remark about this room was that they had to adjust and account for the distance when making their calls for fire because targets seemed either closer or farther than they anticipated.

The third simulator incorporated 340 degree surround and overhead views giving the Soldiers a wider angle view of the scenario. The Soldiers enjoyed this room because of its wide open viewing screen which helped them assess their skills with the binoculars and the LLDR.

Though the battery is a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System unit that does not use the LLDR in field training, the Soldiers picked up on operating the equipment and gained confidence through the training. The Soldiers were very responsive to making calls on the radio and learning how to properly fill out a call for fire sheet.

"The JFETS program does not replace live training but it is as close as you are going to get," said John Dyer, JFETS operator.

The JFETS program is revolutionary because of the immersive environments that can be used in the simulators and those are what give the Soldiers the hands on, real life feel they receive when going through different scenarios, said Dyer, a retired NCO.

Page last updated Thu July 21st, 2011 at 14:26