By Curtis Shinsato, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and SecurityJune 3, 2010
SCHOFIELDAca,!E+BARRACKS, Hawaii - While training with the Virtual Squad Training System, here, Sgt. Michael Diaz' squad from 25th Transportation Company, 25th Infantry Division, skipped breaktime to be the first group to visit the Reconfigurable Vehicle Tactics Trainer.
RVTT trailers, with four simulated vehicles, are located in the back of the Battle Command Training Center, here.
After a safety and capabilities brief, the squad mounted two virtual humvees, which had the look and field of real vehicles, including all the seats, driver controls, radio, and turret ring mount.
As soon as the driver stepped on the gas pedal, projected screens moved like the vehicle was racing up a Baghdad parade ground. The perception of moving seemed so real, observers outside of the virtual vehicles had to steady themselves from falling down.
The turret gunner fired his .50-caliber machine gun as the targets appeared on the 360-degree projection. The entire vehicle vibrated as the weapon recoiled until he had to reload.
Passengers in the backseat also fired at targets carrying AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, kicking up dirt around the targets on-screen.
After a break, the squad filed out of the RVTT, each vowing to share experiences. Soldiers said the training was "like the real thing," and that they "feel at home in a humvee and seeing front, sides and backside to maintain distance in the convoy.
The RVTT is ready to serve any unit's convoy training requirements since the reconfigurable system allows Soldiers to virtually drive M998 humvees, M1026 humvees, M977 Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks and M978 HEMTTs in immersive 360-degree virtual terrains.
Terrains realistically represent the current operating environment, with four-vehicle armed convoy driving among non-combat vehicles and pedestrians, as well as a full range of threats.
Vehicles contain organic radios and FBCB2 interfaces for team connectivity, and precision small-arms simulators to protect against threatening avatars in an air-conditioned arcade atmosphere.
The system was built for serious training and is supported by an experienced and willing staff ready to help any unit plan and prepare for its training objectives. After each training event, RVTT after-action reviews are helping every Soldier learn what skills to sustain and improve on, and why.
Units can train with no gas, no ammunition, no funding and no problems. If your unit is seeking this type training, call 808-655-2810 for an appointment.
(Editor's Note: Curtis Shinsato is a training specialist at the Battle Command Training Center.)