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Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014

Local soldiers learn teamwork through simulated tank drills

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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Pfc. Boyd sits in the driver simulator of the Mobile Close Combat Tactical Trainer at the Dyersburg National Guard Armory on Saturday, Jan. 12. The MCCTT gave recruits in the Recruit Sustainment Program an opportunity to learn valuable teamwork skills.
"Red Team this is Black Six, go ahead and move out."

"Roger that base, Red Team is moving out."

"Red One, this is Red Two we are dead in the water."

"Roger that Red Two, Red One is proceeding on mission."

The above exchange would be common on the field of battle. It may surprise some that the exchange took place right here in Dyersburg on Saturday, Jan. 12 during a two-day training exercise and demonstration involving the National Guard's Recruit Sustainment Program (RSP). The exercise involving tanks provided hands-on experience for Team K Royal Knights, the local RSP platoon.

Tanks? In Dyersburg?

That's correct -- there were tanks on hand at the Dyersburg Armory, but not in the way one would imagine. The exercise was made possible by a very sophisticated simulator provided by Computer Science Corporation, a private firm contracted by the U.S. Army's Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI).

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The After Action Review Station allows commanders to monitor the mission and give them instructions as needed. At the conclusion of each mission, soldiers return to the AARS to review the mission and learn what could be improved in each scenario.
The simulator is called a Mobile Close Combat Tactical Trainer (MCCTT), which according to its website is described as a self-contained, virtual training system used to train units to perform in simulated combat and support roles. Located in four oversized trailers the simulators give the RSP recruits a taste of what it is like to be in an actual tank.

"The simulators allow the recruits to work together and it gives them an idea of what it is like to be in a tank unit," said Operations Manager Ronald Webb, a retired soldier who spent his career working in tanks.

The simulators are extremely realistic providing multiple environments soldiers can train on including: forests, open terrain, cities, and mountains.

But how does it all work?

The platoon begins and ends its exercise in the After Action Review Station (AARS) where an instructor from the Warrior Training Alliance Division of CSC briefs the soldiers on their mission. A commander can monitor his/her unit from the AARS watching every movement, explosion and listening to the chatter between teams as they maintain radio contact.

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Pvt. Burton Waller (far left) receives valuable instruction from Ronald Webb (center) on the command position and what his responsibilities are.
After receiving their instructions at AARS the soldiers move on to the simulators where they will occupy one of four roles: gunner, loader, driver or commander. The gunner, loader and driver are located in an area just a little bigger than an airplane bathroom, just like a real tank. The driver is located in a separate simulator but is able to communicate with his team by radio. Each member of the squad is given a brief, hands-on demonstration of how to operate their role, and then its up to the soldiers to communicate and execute orders.

"This is a good way for them to work together," said Woods. "Teamwork gives them an idea of what it's like to be in a tank unit and ultimately what it will be like in basic training and in the Army."

Once everyone is situated in their role, the brains of the operation begin throwing out real war scenarios at them. According to Webb the MCCTT can simulate enemy forces, improvised explosive devices (IED), artillery and more. However, since this is a demonstration exercise for the RSP recruits, the focus of the training is to get soldiers talking to one another and working together.

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From left, Pfc. Linden Scarbrough occupies the gunner position while Pvt. Enrique Bagley occupies the command position. Each RSP soldier is given a brief hands-on demonstration before they begin the training mission.
"We don't teach them to be tankers, we teach them to shoot, move and communicate," continued Woods.

After the simulation is over soldiers return to the AARS where the mission can be played back for them and they can analyze what went wrong and where they can improve. The Army's ability to prepare soldiers through a simulation gives it an edge, as it can better prepare soldiers for the dangers they may face in combat situations and potentially save lives.

"It is no longer, here is your rifle and go to war," said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Cole, Recruiting and Retention NCO. "There is a lot that goes into preparing a soldier before they are deployed into a combat situation or any hostile environment. This is an invaluable tool in doing that."



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