FORT EUSTIS, Va. (Army News Service, Feb. 17, 2012) -- Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Thomas R. Lamont got a firsthand look at how Soldiers work as sailors with simulators that support the Army Learning Concept and how they enhance real-world water logistics missions.

Escorted by Gen. Bob Cone, Training and Doctrine commander, the senior leaders toured the Army Transportation School's Maritime and Intermodal Training Department Simulation Training Facility and visited with Army mariners of the 7th Sustainment Brigade.

Cone said Lamont's was a great opportunity to showcase how the Army uses state-of-the-art simulators to train Soldiers and warrant officers in the necessary skills needed to operate and survive in the current operational environment.

Mariners from all branches of service are afforded critical training at the simulation training center on a variety of scenarios geared toward increasing their overall ability to provide global water logistic capability, whether in a combat environment, or in support of humanitarian assistance missions.

"Simulation training gives the Soldier the feeling of being on a real ship," Chief Warrant Officer Timothy N. Turner, marine operations officer-in-charge for the brigade told the secretary. "Wave action, shipboard systems, electronics, vessel traffic and background noise are variables the simulation can emulate.

"This allows us to keep the Army mariner proficient on vessel maneuvering, practical navigation, and the use of shipboard electronics such as radar and the Electronic Chart and Information System," he said.

The first stop of the morning for Lamont was the simulation center, where within minutes of entering the building, he found himself standing on the bridge of an Army Landing Craft Utility or LCU, alongside Cone as they navigated choppy waters in while steering clear of approaching enemy watercraft.

Later Lamont stepped into the helm seat to take the brigade's simulated Small Tug-900 for a cruise in the water surrounding 3rd Port under the guidance of vessel master Sgt. 1st Class Brian Shay.

"The simulation center is used as a training tool for watercraft units on their road to war," Turner said. "Units conduct realistic team-building training while operating their vessel in various ports they would find during their deployment.

"Examples would be a Pacific Reach exercise in Japan where LCU crews are required to conduct simulation training, which introduces everything from local fishing vessels, to force protection scenarios, while operating in various ports and traffic schemes found in the region." Turner continued. "This not only gives the watch team the ability to build cohesion, it allows the Army mariners to familiarize themselves with the terrain."

A key advantage of the training is its economic feasibility.

"Simulation training maintains our mariner's skills and at the same time, reduces the cost and manpower needed to get a vessel underway," Turner said. "A bridge team of three to five Army mariners can conduct a few hours of training without involving an entire unit."

(Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Jo Bridgwater serves with the 7th Sustainment Brigade public affairs.)