By Melony Gabbert, Fort Riley Public AffairsJuly 25, 2011
FORT RILEY, Kan. " Inspection of the newly completed Digital Multi-Purpose Range Complex was completed May 16 to 20 and full usage is “about to start,” said Tim Livsey, director of Fort Riley’s Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. Five years in the making, the DMPRC will provide a 24-hour live-fire training facility with immediate digital feedback of the training.
High-definition video and high-fidelity audio feedback are possible via the fiber network and positionable cameras, said Mark Wilson, field service representative, U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation.
“It’s a complex system,” Wilson said. “Just seeing the amount of computer systems is almost overwhelming.”
Feedback is delivered through the vehicle’s computerized systems. Additionally, DVDs are provided for performance and after-action reviews.
The DMPRC can also accommodate combined arms fights, meaning simultaneous use by air, ground, tanks and Bradleys, Livsey said.
“This is as close to the real thing as possible,” he said.
The DMPRC is the newest integral part of the Douthit Gunnery Complex.
“It is the king or last major piece of the puzzle,” Wilson added.
Part of a complex whole
There are currently four main components of Douthit " the new DMPRC; the nearly three-year-old Digital Multi-Purpose Training Range, nicknamed “The Rock”; Demon Stage Field, with an air pad poured within the last two years; and a newly renovated cantonment complex, Douthit Range Complex.
“Seventy-seven acres of fun” is how Gary Smith, range liaison officer, refers to Douthit.
The intentional placement of these four facilities near each other creates a versatile and innovative complex for Fort Riley, according to Livsey.
“What is unique about Douthit is the way it is lashed together,” he said. “To my knowledge, there is nothing like it.”
Bill Raymann, chief, Training Division, DPTMS, described the range complex as unique.
“It is unique in the Army that all those training functions are that well coordinated and available to Soldiers,” Raymann said. “The flexibility is unique.”
Serving Armywide, Douthit is the “model facility of range complexes in the Army,” Smith said.
Having one group of people operating all of the facilities simplifies operation, according to Raymann.
“This is a great, great place,” he said.
“This is a huge step forward from the way we used to do business,” added Fred Siebe, Douthit complex manager.
The versatility is multi-fold, Livsey explained.
The complex can serve single or multiple Soldiers or groups of Soldiers, up to companies, for live-fire training, he said. The facilities may be used individually or in an interlocked capacity, he said. There also is a collective training capacity, and more than one training mission can run at a time.
The cantonment area allows Soldiers to “live and dine; to stay and train,” Livsey said.
It also enables something like a simulated deployment, according to Wilson. The seven barracks contain 545 beds, but the capacity of Douthit is “pretty much unlimited if units want to bring in their own assets,” Smith said.
The cantonment area also has a headquarters building, dining facility, latrines, laundry room, aid station, gym/multipurpose building, motor pool and ammunition holding area.
Nearby, Demon Stage Field allows units to bring in unmanned aerial vehicles and add a third dimension, which is another level to the training. Demon also offers a self-controlled air traffic control, according to Wilson. Use of Demon Stage Field includes practice for landings and take-offs, Raymann said.
Demon also can launch an air assault, Livsey added.
“We can train the diversity of the force " low to high " tanks, Bradleys, infantry, (unmanned aerial systems) and helicopters,” he said.
This efficiency saves time, money and increases through put, according to Wilson and Raymann.
The number of Soldiers expected to train at the gunnery in August also is the largest training force seen in a long time " about 3,000, Raymann added.
“The training environment has drastically changed the last 10 to 15 years,” Wilson said.
The creation of the complex capability has created a “win-win situation for Fort Riley and local economies,” Livsey said.
After the DMPTR is open, 38 more jobs will be added. Sixty-two new jobs have been created to run the two ranges, he said.
“That means 62 more people who now live in the local area,” Livsey said.
There also are 24 contractors working at the DMPRC.
Additionally, the complex has created a boon to the economy last fall, Livsey said. The Army Test and Evaluation Command, an entity whose function is to test programs before the Army makes a purchase, came to Fort Riley for the first time. There was one month to plan for the visit, Smith said. With more than 150 contractors residing in local hotels for two-and-a-half months, more than $500,000 was spent in the local community and about 35 local residents were hired to support the tests. The cantonment was used as the headquarters, Livsey said.
“ATEC was very impressed with the support they received,” he said. “They will be back.”
Ahead of schedule
The norm is for the Corps of Engineers to build physical structures and then for the technical people to follow and add those elements, Livsey said. In building the DMPTR, the Corps of Engineers and APEOSTRI worked simultaneously. Largely through the efforts of Wilson, the DMPTR was completed nearly three months ahead of schedule, he said.
“There was great execution of construction, all around,” Wilson said. “The instrumentation was flawless.”
“This place will only get bigger,” Smith said.
“Users will be asked two key questions. One " ‘What are your training objectives?’ Two " ‘What do you want to accomplish while you’re here?’ A lot can be accomplished here if those questions are given forethought,” Wilson said.
Once those answers are determined, a custom plan or scenario is designed, Smith said. This plan is reviewed prior to arrival. Then, once at the gunnery, the plan is reviewed and tailored if needed.
“It is just difficult for users to visualize everything, including the scope of services available, before arrival,” Smith said.
Units can bring whatever they want, Siebe said.
“Each vehicle is fitted with digital equipment from the gunnery in a matter of 35 to 40 minutes, but three or four can be outfitted at a time,” he said.
During the execution, staff and users monitor what’s going on, Smith and Wilson explained. After execution, users are able to review the DVD and have content edited as desired for use in AARs.
The purpose of the training is learning and improving, according to Wilson.
“Train as you fight " fight as you train,” he said.