By Russell Sellers, Army Flier StaffApril 14, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- An AH-64 Apache pilot circles overhead as a Stryker team moves into position on the ground. The pilot identifies an insurgent target posted in a tower and ready to use rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire against the ground troops.
After getting clearance to engage, the Apache gunner launches two Hellfire missiles into the tower, bringing it to the ground as the Stryker team and ground troops move in to take the enemy position.
At least, that's how it happened in the simulation at Bldg. 5101 on Fort Rucker April 7.
The practice run of the simulation was a joint venture with the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, Fort Rucker; U.S. Army Aviation Logistics School Fort Eustis, Va.; U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning, Ga.; and the U.S. Army Fires Center of Excellence, Fort Sill, Okla.
This practice run these groups have put in is to prepare for an "Army Learning Concept 2015" demonstration Monday during the annual Army Aviation Association of America convention at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.
It is designed to provide a look into future training capabilities and how the Army's training institutions are able to implement certain aspects of this new concept today, according to Lt. Col. Craig Unrath, Fort Rucker deputy director of simulation.
"ALC 2015 emphasizes integrated training," he said. "What a great concept. If we can integrate long-haul between the different (centers of excellence) without having to go to a different location to do a joint exercise, it is going to benefit our Army, save us money and give us command and control training that we really need."
The ALC 2015 demo features dynamic virtual learning environments, including on-line gaming and mobile learning, he added. This allows different teams running simulations to run them together without having to be in the same room or even on the same installation.
ALC 2015 utilizes the Army's newest gaming software, Virtual Battle Space 2. Soldiers from MCoE and FCoE will participate in a virtual battle that represents a Stryker unit from the MCoE conducting a military operation in an operating environment against a fully-armed opposing force. This unit will have a fire support element from the FCoE employing unmanned aircraft systems to support the ground operations. Apache helicopters, flown by USAACE flight students, provided close combat attack support for the Stryker unit.
"What we're doing is trying to train the combined arms fight," Capt. Cameron Gallagher, Aviation Captains Career Course small group leader and AH-64 pilot during the simulation, said. "The communication we learn and being able to use the VBS2 systems is great. Having Aviators talk to ground forces is teaching us how to work together before we get together in units."
Maj. Greg Curry, Fort Benning, Ga., Directorate of Training deputy director of tactics, said having the time with Soldiers from Fort Rucker and the other installations helps the Soldiers learn how to operate together sooner.
"This has been a great effort from all of the other installations," he said. "Communication between Aviation and ground commanders is imperative. Looking at the big picture of the combined arms fight down the road, we're just trying to get some kind of connectivity now before the Soldiers get downrange with each other."
Unrath added that civilians at the AAAA convention will have the opportunity to participate in the simulation after the demonstration.
"They'll be able to run the exercise and fly the Apaches," he said. "It'll give them an up-close look at what we're trying to do."