A virtual trade off, 689th Engineer Company sharpens skills while testing Route Clearance Simulator
By Spc. Devin M. Wood 412th TEC Public AffairsSeptember 21, 2010
Daytona Beach (Aug. 23, 2010) Rolling out on mounted patrols, engaging enemy insurgents, and interrogating roadside bombs from a semi-trailer in Daytona Beach'
Fifteen Soldiers from the 689th Engineer Company validated upgrades to the Army's route clearance simulator, Aug. 16-20, 2010. Program administrators selected the 689th because the Reservists conducted route clearance operations in Iraq from 2007-2008.
"Most of these guys have more than 200 route clearance missions under their belts," said Captain Shawn McKinney, Commander of the 689th Engineer Company.
Simulator upgrades include a "seat shaker" and a vibrating steering column on the Mine Protected Clearance Vehicle "Buffalo," the Vehicular Mounted Mine Detector "Husky," and the Medium Mine Protected Vehicles "JERRV" and "RG31."
"With the vibrations in the steering column and seat, depending on speed, you actually feel like you are driving off road and your controls reflect that," said Maj. Timothy McGrew, assistant product manager, Ground Tactical Combat Trainers.
"It's like I'm driving my Buffalo back in country again," said Staff Sgt. Reginald Livingston. "There are instances where I forget and have to remind myself I'm in a simulator."
The Man Transportable Robotic Systems "Talon" got a detonation cord, and the entire system now has an Afghanistan database.
The Soldiers provided feedback to the programmers, and they got an opportunity to sharpen their skills on the equipment.
"The opportunities to get on real equipment and train are minimal when you're stateside," said McKinney. "To keep their abilities and muscle memory, it's good to go out and exercise it from time to time."
"This program has trained more than 22,000 Soldiers, and the feedback we get is 'Hey, this is just like the equipment I sat in when I deployed last year,'" said McGrew.
Route Clearance simulator training was not available when the 689th deployed. Livingston says he's certain that Soldiers who train on the simulator will be better prepared than he was.
"Simply knowing how to turn a corner and knowing that the Buffalo does not turn like a car. Knowing that if I turn this corner without hitting the dirt, because that's where they put the bombs." Livingston said. "I have no doubt in my mind that this is going to save someone's life."