By Capt. Rachael JeffcoatMay 30, 2017
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- The lights are dim. The tension is so thick someone could cut it with a knife. The rattling sound of firing ammunition comes from out of the darkness. The gunner charges the M2 .50 caliber machine gun. Locked and loaded, she begins to scan the...screen?
Walking into the Reconfigurable Vehicle Tactical Trailer is like walking into a giant three-dimensional gaming system. The RVTT is made up of a series of trailers that house full-size Humvees, which are mounted with either a M2 .50 caliber machine gun or a M249 squad automatic weapon. The trailer walls are lined with large screens that display a simulated video scenario.
Soldiers are virtually transported in the RVTT to any location, ranging from missions in Afghanistan to basic range target practice at any military installation. The screens that surround the Soldiers display terrain, roads, and even civilians walking in the villages. The Soldiers must scan the screens in a 360 degree rotation for enemy combatants, while simultaneously radio communicating with other members of their platoon and "driving" the Humvee on the roads.
The Military Police detachment assigned to Multinational Battle Group-East took full advantage of the opportunity to utilize the first-ever RVTT that was deployed to Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, from Grafenwoehr, Germany.
"Our primary mission in Kosovo is law enforcement," explained Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Hatchell, platoon sergeant of the MP detachment assigned to MNBG-East. "Our Soldiers who came together 90 and 120 days prior to our deployment to Kosovo did not train on our tactical mission set that we would normally conduct in Afghanistan or Iraq. By conducting the RVTT, it assists in hitting those objective measures of training and coming up with those proper tactics, techniques and procedures."
When it first debuted in October 2009, the RVTT's primary mission was for Soldiers to practice convoy operations that would prepare them for missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, with upgrades to the systems, units can use the RVTT for missions at home stations such as gunnery ranges and drivers training, according to the RVTT system project manager Bruner Caudill.
This system allows for units to maintain their combat readiness even in a deployed environment such as Camp Bondsteel, where there are a limited amount of tactical training resources.
"It saves the units a lot of time and money on resources," said Caudill. "It reduces all the resources that a unit has to have to practice things with their real world equipment from dispatching vehicles, ordering ammunition, drawing weapons from the arms room, and all the things that they will need from the S4."
Not only does the RVTT conserve resources, but it allows units to continue to train on enhancing their skills while mitigating the risk of injury. They can rehearse over and over until it's time to execute, says Caudill.
"I have a lot of junior Soldiers in my platoon that have not deployed to a combat environment," said 2nd Lt. Shamara Nichols, platoon leader of the MP detachment. "This was a good first step for them to do this simulation where our lives are not in danger, in order to get those good tactics, techniques, and procedures in and work on our convoy operations."
The Army has come a long way, Caudill said. He recalled a time when he was a 1st sergeant in the U.S. Army and had to paint the terrain of Hohenfels, Germany, on his unit's parking lot in order to rehearse battle drills with this company.
"We have such a great asset, such as the RVTT, for our troops to train with, it's just incredible how far the military has come," he said.