By Spc. Kendrix Lima, 6-52 ADA Unit Public Affairs RepresentativeMarch 6, 2015
SUWON AIR BASE, South Korea -- With the proliferation of ballistic missiles into conflict zones across the world, the need for advanced air and missile defense has never been higher. Each air defense operating area, however, comes with its own set of challenges, threats and unique operating procedures to overcome them. Simply put, air defense units in South Korea fight differently than those anywhere else.
As a result, experienced Air Defenders arrive at new units at a disadvantage. Much of the training and doctrine they have acquired will need to be relearned and tailored to meet the demands of the new area, delaying the integration of new Soldiers into a unit.
Simulation centers, like the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade "battle lab" at Osan Air Base, offer a solution. Using specialized computers that replicate Patriot missile engagement stations and early warning systems, Soldiers get hands on training without utilizing actual Patriot equipment that is worth millions of dollars and is costly to operate and maintain.
Best of all, Soldiers can receive air battle training on any number of real world locations and scenarios simply by programming them into the simulation.
Breaking new ground for this year's peninsula-wide Key Resolve exercise, the 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, part of the 35th ADA Brigade, fully utilized the new Osan Air Base battle lab to conduct round the clock air defense operations with its sister unit, 2-1 ADA Battalion.
The battle lab consisted of several computer systems to simultaneously train crews from each unit, generating simulated air battles encompassing real-life tactical sites across South Korea, all from one central location.
"From the battle lab we could see everyone's combined efforts, from the early warning system to the firing units to the battalions and up to brigade, all from one place," said Spc. Matthew Wilke, a tactical director's assistant with 6-52 ADA. "Having everything collocated showed us the different perspectives involved in an operation and helped us understand all the moving parts that allows us to fight."
In addition, the Osan battle lab was linked to the simulation lab at Fort Sill, Oklahoma -- home of the air defense artillery -- allowing Soldiers across the world to train together and learn about each other's operating procedures.
"It's a huge advantage having that connection between labs," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Juan Perez, tactical director with 6-52 ADA. "Soldiers going through their initial training at Fort Sill can get a feel for the way we operate in Korea, making them better prepared so they can come here and hit the ground running."
According to Perez the savings in fuel costs, maintenance support, and logistical planning frees up more resources and time for air battle training, helping to ensure the high level of readiness that comes with operating in Korea.
"Of course, no simulation can ever fully replace the need for training on actual equipment," he added. "But battle labs help us stay ready to fight wherever we're needed."