By Kerstin Lopez (Fort Carson)June 15, 2011
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- The Centennial Training Center offers an array of virtual training aids and scenarios in addition to the standard military instructional exercises to prepare Soldiers for real-life missions they may encounter in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The training center, which falls under the Regional Training Institute, provides quality facilities and relevant training support year-round to all components of the military and federal agencies in and around the region, said Sgt. Brandy Krueger, CTC training technician.
Virtual training saves money and time, and allows Soldiers to be exposed to a variety of scenarios in a short amount of time versus running limited missions out in the field, said Lt. Col. Shawn Boller, CTC commander.
The CTC offers an Engagement Skills Trainer 2000, Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer, Virtual Convoy Operations Trainer, Modified Record Fire Range and simulated improvised explosive devices for training.
“The virtual arena allows you to move out of a training environment and put (Soldiers) into a tactical environment without actually doing it,” said 2nd Lt. Mark Jenkins, CTC simulators expert.
The virtual training simulates real life so Soldiers have to continuously engage their basic marksmanship and tactical skills, said Capt. Michael Odgers, public affairs officer, Colorado Army National Guard.
“You can stop it and replay it,” Jenkins said. “That’s a huge benefit.”
The CTC provides an indoor, multipurpose, multilane, small arms, crew-served weapon simulator EST. This trainer is pertinent for initial and sustainment marksmanship training, static unit collective gunnery and tactical training, as well as “shoot/no shoot” decision training, Krueger said.
With more than 200 scenarios, the customizable interface allows Soldiers to practice marksmanship techniques with weapons such as the M9 pistol, M4 carbine rifle, M16A2 assault rifle, M203 grenade launcher, M249 squad automatic weapon, M240B machine gun, MK19 automatic grenade launcher and M2 .50-caliber machine gun.
“The CTC offers good training at an affordable cost. The EST is a great example of inexpensive training, especially if you have Soldiers who have difficulty zeroing or qualifying with their assigned weapon,” Krueger said. “In the EST, you are able to assist that individual by working on marksmanship fundamentals without wasting ammunition and manpower for live-fire ranges. This allows the Soldier to be much more prepared and familiarized with the weapon prior to actually going to the range.”
HEAT, another widely used training aid, increases situational awareness of a vehicle rollover by permitting the instructor to observe driver performance and reaction to emergency conditions, Krueger said. This trainer allows individuals and crews to rehearse and physically execute the necessary steps required to survive a vehicle rollover.
The importance of seat positioning, wearing seatbelts, demonstrating the feeling of being disoriented and the actual effort required to execute rollover procedures is reinforced with the HEAT.
Sgt. Archie Cooley, 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, said he never participated in HEAT training before, but found it extremely beneficial and relevant to today’s combat.
“I never thought about rollovers like I do now. I can see why people die in these kind of events … I think it’s important training,” Cooley said.
He said the hardest part of HEAT was exiting the vehicle in a chaotic situation such as a rollover. The main lesson Cooley took away from the training was to not take his safety for granted.
Convoy missions are an important aspect during conflicts and understanding the risks involved and how to minimize them is crucial, Odgers said.
The VCOT allows operators to observe, maneuver and fire weapons through a full 360-degree circumference, Odgers said, which increases situational awareness in a combat environment.
“All those types of behaviors, tactics and techniques that you would be using in a real-life convoy still need to be used here,” Odgers said. “In some ways, it’s more realistic than doing a convoy trainer down on a range … there are more scenarios.”
The CTC can also assist in running qualification and familiarization ranges. For instance, Range 49 allows Soldiers to conduct record fire, field fire, zeroing, night fire and Nuclear, Biological and Chemical fire with M16s and M4s. In addition, the range houses a combat pistol qualification course.
The IED simulator offers a realistic training environment without putting Soldiers in danger. The Soldiers can learn to react to a very realistic simulated IED as it creates a loud startling sound and produces a smoke-like effect when detonated.
“The demand for the IED simulators is growing, since that is what we are facing in the real-life situation overseas,” Krueger said.
“We are currently running the IED simulators for the Warrior Leader Course, Officer Candidate School and the Combat Life Saver course.
“I will say that I really enjoy working at the CTC. It feels great to be a part of training Soldiers, whether it’s for deployment or just for readiness training,” Krueger said.