Virtual Squad Training simulates patrolling techniques, tasks

By Curtis Shinsato, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii DPTMS, Battle Command Training CenterJune 21, 2010

Virtual Squad Training simulates patrolling techniques, tasks
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SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Sgt. Jerel Concepcion, a squad leader with 25th Transportation Company, 45th Sustainment Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, was leading his squad through the streets of Baghdad.

Gunfire suddenly erupted from an enemy ambush.

The squad quickly eliminated the ambushers, but Concepcion was down.

Rather than being disappointed, Concepcion realized this moment was an excellent opportunity for his team leaders to take charge.

The squad continued the mission by engaging rooftop snipers and clearing a building in the process. The building the squad cleared, however, was a virtual building.

Concepcion and his squad weren't really in Baghdad. Instead, they were training at the Virtual Squad Training Simulation, or VSTS, here, which simulates tactical training for Soldiers at the squad-level.

Although Concepcion's squad was new to patrolling, they had practiced good patrolling techniques.

Training was conducted virtually using suits that sense movement of the body and the use of weapons, such as the M4, M203 and M249.

The beauty of the virtual environment is that it allows errors to be made with positive learning as the only consequence. There are no real-world rounds expended or wear-and-tear on equipment, just valuable lessons learned from the virtual world.

Users can interact with the simulation simply by turning their head or body, or by aiming their weapon as they would in real life.

Squads engage in warrior tasks, such as combat patrols, entering and clearing buildings, and reacting to vehicle- or ground-based improvised explosive device.

Soldiers use real-life tactics, such as calling for fire, medical evacuation, hand-and-arm signals, and using explosives.

Soldiers get feedback from each exercise using a full-featured replay function, allowing them to conduct after-action reviews.

Squads also have the ability to build their own training scenarios, along with VSTS staff, to capture their training points, to train on unit standard operating procedures.

The VSTS is available for scheduling, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. For more information, contact Clayton Creech or Jeremy Escasa at 808-655-2267. To schedule a session, call Johnny Scott at 808-655-2810.

(Editor's Note: Curtis Shinsato is a training specialist at the BCTC.)