New Virtual Humvee Training For Ft. Campbell Troops
by Kim Gebbia
Fort CAMPBELL, Tenn- With steep budget cuts to the military about to take place, Fort Campbell is saving cash by training their troops online. The new virtual battle space program let's soldiers learn how to navigate Afghanistan and the enemy from inside a humvee without ever leaving the classroom.
It all happens inside the virtual training room on Ft. Campbell Post. Forty soldiers from the 501st Transportation Unit sit at six tables. Each table represents the crew on a humvee.
On the computer in front of them, soldiers can only see their point of view from inside that humvee. Thursday they are simulating a convoy through typical Afghan terrain. Drivers even have a gaming steering wheel and pedals to mock the speed and spacing of each vehicle to the next.
"Surprisingly very real, it's almost like a lot of the convoys I've experienced," said Private First Class Darius Harvey.
Harvey said it teaches them how to work together. "Gets us into a team that way we can work together and get the lingo down," said Specialist MitchellDewitt.
More importantly, each humvee team learns how to communicate in a tense situation.
"Communication is the key really and so if you are not communicating other trucks are not going to know what's happening," said Marcilla Acosta, a PFC with the 501st.
But the simulation is not just about cruising through a quiet Afghan Street. In another room nearby Jeffrey Jackson sits on his own computer, playing the role of the Taliban, firing RPG's and planting IED's and triggering 'stressors' for the troops. He says it's teaching them how to react to what they will inevitably face in Afghanistan.
The virtual training isn't meant to replace actual convoy training inside these vehicles on post, but it helps prepare them intellectually meanwhile saving the military millions of dollars.
"If they had to train it live they would need the same number of vehicles, approximately five m-rat vehicles, they would need the space, the fuel, the food, the maintenance," said Operations Specialist Brian Lucke.
Now when this convoy does train live they'll know exactly what to do, just one more life saving tool when it's no longer a game.
The version of the Virtual Battle Space system was designed specifically for American troops with actual Afghan towns, terrain and equipment.
Officials there say it's as close as you can get without going to Afghanistan.