VICENZA, Italy - More and more Italian army personnel travel to Vicenza to hone their marksmanship skills at U.S. military training facilities.The Engagement Skill Trainer on Caserma “Ederle,” the Gun Fighter Gym and the Squad Advanced Marksman Trainer on Caserma “Del Din” recently hosted training sessions for some of the most elite units the host nation army has in northern Italy.The teams included the 183rd Regiment “Nembo”, from the “Folgore” Paratroopers Brigade based in Pistoia, a squad-size element of the 4th Alpini Paratroopers Regiment (4o Reggimento Alpini Paracadustisti) from Montorio Veronese, and 14 members of the Multinational Civil-Military Cooperation Group (MNCG) headquartered in the town of Motta di Livenza.“The EST is a basic rifle marksmanship and crew served weapons simulator. There are a limited number of basic rifle marksmanship simulators in the Italian army. Having access to two U.S. Army 10-lane ESTs in Vicenza provides a great training resource for our Italian Army partners,” said James V. Matheson, chief, Regional Training Support Division South, 7th Army Training Command.Matheson explained how simulators help Soldiers increase their precise lethality and survivability marksmanship skills required of infantry troops. Beginning with weapons familiarization, the virtual environment allows trainees to execute simulated scenarios such as ambushes, react to contact, patrols or search for improvised explosive devices.It also adds coaching tools so Soldiers can review their performance after a simulation.“The EST is such an important training simulator for the U.S. Army that the new Army rifle qualification standards require a Soldier to pass table II in EST simulation prior to being permitted to attempt live fire qualification,” Matheson said.A first team of five Nembo paratroopers from the Folgore Brigade graduated as EST instructors after a three-day drill Sept 14-16. A second team followed Sept. 28-30 and it was able to go through immersive training programs engaging the EST, the SAM-T and the Gun Fighter Gym.The “Folgore” (in Italian meaning lightning) Brigade is one of the three light infantry brigades of the Italian army routinely deployed in missions abroad.At the end of the experience, Nembo paratroopers shared their thoughts on the capabilities of the systems. They appreciated how the simulators are designed to assist and improve the basic fundamentals of marksmanship, as well as collective and escalation of force training before going to a live-fire range.“The system’s most challenging part includes the projection of different scenarios on a wall-sized screen to recreate realistic scenarios such as ambushes, patrols, check points or riots in urban environment,” one of the Nembo participants noted.“Furthermore, using the same training facilities of the 173rd Brigade is also important to integrate readiness and further interoperability within the larger Airborne community of our NATO partners and allies,” he said.A "Call for Fire" (CFF) session brought to the Ederle’s EST nine special forces from the 4th Alpini Paratroopers Sept. 29-30. The 4th Alpini Paratroopers Regiment is a Ranger-type, Special Forces regiment of the Italian army.Facilitating the CFF course were Staff Sgt. Nicholas R. Sohn and Staff Sgt. Austin T. Nash, targeting noncommissioned officers and instructors with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team (Infantry).Explaining how the CFF is a procedural trainer that offers sustainment training to the qualified observers, Sohn noted that “what that entails is getting Soldiers prepared to go into an observation post (or OP) on a call for fire on targets, or on cachets or whatever targets may be out there that is deemed by whichever commander to engage as high payoff target list.”According to Sohn, simulating artillery, mortar and other fires on stationary and moving targets through multiple scenarios, the CFF training improves the speed and reaction time a user needs to identify and engage a target. Scenarios teach Soldiers to hunt through large amounts of cognitive data to identify a single threat, with multiple images so one never sees the same scenario twice.Training with Italians “it's just a good opportunity to see where they're at and to learn from each other of how they do things on their end, versus how we do things and kind of talk amongst us on different things so it's good for us as well,” he said.These engagements allow us to build trust, gain confidence and comfortability working together since we're always everywhere all over the world,” Sohn said.An Italian NCO from the 4th Alpini Rgt. added that “this combined training with the American colleagues is extremely valuable to practice and refine our fire control skills, as we often deploy together and support each other on the battlefield.”Last in order of arrival, 14 all-rank members of the MNCG came to the Gun Fighter Gym on Del Din Oct. 1 to refine the skills required to be a proficient shooter.Maj. Lucia Locatelli, MNCG operations staff officer, said that for most the team, it was the first time training in such an innovative, higher-level technology platform as the one on Caserma Del Din.In his introductory instruction, Joe Lynch, site lead and instructor at the Gun Fighter Gym, explained that “system and Conflict Kinetics’ patented training methodologies increase the shooters ability to detect, discriminate, and if necessary eliminate any threats within their 220-degree virtual environment.”According to Lynch, the simulator allows to custom tailor realistic environments for Soldiers to train their warfighting skills and make critical decisions of shooting or not shooting when on the move, under physical stress and with noise distraction.“As we prepare to support NATO Response Force 2021, having the opportunity to train here is key to build our capability to operate in any given battlefield when we deploy for a minimum of six months to one year tour, said Lt. Col. Enrico Pizzileo, MNCG CJ3/5 branch chief.Holding an M4 replica used for the drill, Pizzileo said that “this activity is crucial to refine weapon familiarization and correct handling, as well as to sharpen our personnel ability to react to unexpected shooting situations that could occur during deployment overseas.”“Without this kind of trainings we would be unable to achieve that interoperability level that has become a standard requirement for all personnel of NATO partners and allies,” he said.Facilitating the training opportunities between the Army and Italian units is 7th ATC RTSC chief Ivano Trevisanutto.According to Trevisanutto, the U.S. continues to invest in military training with NATO allies and partners to demonstrate resolve, build resilience and foster trust while enhancing interoperability.“Technological tools such as the EST allow to quickly direct instructors and trained personnel on the type of work to be performed, leading to a significant improvement on the use of economic resources, time management and readiness of the force,” Trevisanutto said.