FORT EUSTIS, Va. (Sept. 4, 2007) -- Spouses from across the nation spent an afternoon at Fort Eustis for a special tour of the Simulation Facility Aug. 21 as a part of the Training and Doctrine Command Senior Leadership Seminar being held at Kingsmill in Williamsburg. The 29 spouses experienced Army training first-hand, taking the helm of the Maritime Simulation Division simulators that signal a huge advancement in Army training capabilities.

Dozens of instructors from the Transportation School were on hand to run the women through the ropes, answering numerous questions throughout the afternoon. From fire-fighting training to ship navigation simulation that had the women bracing the walls, each was able to get a glimpse into the training that turns novices into professional transporters.

"The training results with the simulators is outstanding," explained Bill Elburn, chief of the cargo handling division, to a small semicircle of spouses. "Prior to simulation training, studies showed after 50 minutes or so, interest faded. Now we have Soldiers waiting at the door to get into the training."

The spouses toured seven different simulators, including the full-mission bridge simulator, cargo specialist simulator, and EST 2000. At each station they had an opportunity to try-out the equipment themselves, from practicing their skills at taking down the enemy with an M-16 to moving heavy equipment with a fork-lift.

While some of the spouses had seen simulators before, the transportation simulators at Eustis were a new sight. Taking full advantage of the opportunity, a few of the women decided to crash their simulated tug-boat to see just how easy a virtual recovery could be.

"With this technology, we can let them see what total failure is like and learn from the experience," Elburn explained. "You can't do that with real equipment."

The spouses cited the importance of learning about the latest advances in Army training.

"It's important spouses are able to encourage their Soldier, it's a partnership," said Candy Wojdakowski, wife of Maj. Gen. Walter Wajdawski, Fort Benning commander. "If we don't know their role, how can we motivate the younger Soldiers and their spouses' We have a leadership responsibility as well as our husbands, and understanding the training the young Soldiers go through helps us support those younger spouses."

At each of the stations the spouses were able to get first-hand experience with the equipment, whether trying on the fire-fighting simulation mask or feeling the queasiness caused by a maritime bridge simulation, everyone was able to try their hands at the actual work, getting a glimpse at one small component of turning Soldiers into professional transporters, the every day mission at the Transportation School.

For the spouses taking part in the afternoon of hands-on experience, it was an opportunity to garner information they'll be able to pass on to others.

"Often we're in the community in a position to tell the Soldier's story," said Sharon Wallace from Fort Monroe. "The more the public knows, the more supportive they will be of the mission."