FORT STEWART, Ga. - Armor crewmen with the 3rd Combined Arms Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division trained using simulations at Fort Stewart's Mission Training Complex Feb. 13-14.

The training was meant to improve armor proficiency as the Spartan Brigade converts to an armored brigade. The crewmen used the Close Combat Tactical Trainer to facilitate training of ground troops at the platoon, company, and battalion level using virtual simulation.

"Crews loaded into M1 tank simulators - some for the first time in the vehicles, even if only simulated - to get an idea of what it takes to operate as a tank crew," said Capt. Jordan Woodburn, commander of B Co., 3rd Bn., 67th Armor Regt. "This operation was designed to improve the armor crewmen fundamental skills before getting our tanks."

The gunner and tank commander used the advanced gunnery training simulator first to build their ability to hit targets as a team. Once completed, they incorporated the driver and loader for a complete tank crew in the CCTT.

"The advantage of using the simulated training versus sending the Soldiers straight to mechanized vehicles is that it is saving the military its training resources," said Ken Thompson, the lead computer based trainer-instructor for the CCTT. "It saves on fuel, it saves on ammunition, and it saves training area."

The more the Soldiers train on the equipment, the more proficient they will become," said Thompson. "It's muscle memory."

Pfc. Ronald Green, a loader with 3rd Bn., 67th Armor Regt., said he appreciated the hands-on aspect of the training and has a better understanding of what it takes to handle the loader's station in certain situations. He looks forward to his experience in an actual tank and feels confident with the training the simulators have given him.

Pfc. Samuel Infante, 3rd Bn., 67 Armor Regt., said the simulators replicated the need for communication within the vehicle as well as the ability to do so during a mission.
He said the simulators helped his platoon practice, which will ultimately help them become proficient before executing live fire at gunnery.

"Through the use of the simulators, we're able to replicate the conditions on the battlefield by employing all four members of the crew in the simulator to achieve what they will attempt to in an actual scenario or exercise," Woodburn said.

The Soldiers focused on three things concerning situational awareness throughout the training: where they are on the battlefield, where they are in relation to the other tanks in the platoon, and where the enemy is.

The work the company did was to build on those fundamental tasks of an armor crewman without actually having the tanks present, Woodburn said.

"It is all part of the progression toward gunnery and the progression toward being an effective armored brigade combat team," Woodburn said.