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Virtual Air Support For Exercise
by U.S. Army Sgt. William Begley - January 21, 2014

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FORT STEWART, Ga. - Soldiers from Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, GA participated in a training event on Dec. 16-19, 2013 which fielded the Live, Virtual, Constructive-Integrating Architecture.

LVC-IA is part of the Army's Integrated Training Environment, and was integrated along with the Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer (AVCATT), the Close Combat Tactical Trainer and the Mission Training Complex to provide the virtual environment for “Operation Boar”.

Soldiers from Company D, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, participate in the fielding of the Live, Virtual, Constructive-Integrating Architecture at the Close Combat Tactical Trainer at Evans Army Airfield outside of Fort Stewart, GA on Dec. 18, 2013. (Photo by Sgt. William Begley, 3rd CAB Public Affairs)
Soldiers from Company D, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, participate in the fielding of the Live, Virtual, Constructive-Integrating Architecture at the Close Combat Tactical Trainer at Evans Army Airfield outside of Fort Stewart, GA on Dec. 18, 2013. (Photo by Sgt. William Begley, 3rd CAB Public Affairs)

The fruits of all three assets were combined, and provided leaders with the ability to deliver virtual training to aviators, boots on the ground infantry soldiers using the Homestation Instrumentation Training System and tankers. The training gave the soldiers the opportunity to test their mental agility, versatility, and adaptability in a safe environment.

Maj. John Culpepper, simulations operations officer, 3rd CAB, was excited about fielding the training on Fort Stewart/HAAF.

“We'll now have the capability here at Fort Stewart to incorporate training that involves live soldiers wearing HITS gear, it provides the location of the soldier, so that the soldier's location can be translated into the virtual world,” said Culpepper. “So now those operators that are operating tanks or helicopters in a virtual environment can see that live soldier moving around. Until now all you could see in the AVCATT was other aircraft. We now have the capability to link together these two virtual systems where you will have live soldiers flying aircraft, and live soldiers on the ground operating armored vehicles and they can begin to coordinate and work together.”

While Culpepper believes that live training is always preferred, there are advantages to virtual training; advantages like saving on the cost of training and being able to have the virtual equivalent of a live fire exercise, but in a much safer and controlled environment.

“Not only is it safer, now we are not limited by the live environment. We are not affected by weather,” continued Culpepper. “Virtual has a number of advantages that allow it to be used not only in a fiscally strained environment, but also just in routine training. Specifically, the ability to record what's going on for After Action Review purposes. You have video and audio playback so the commander can hear how the crews are commanding and controlling their elements.”

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jesse Olmstead, a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot with Company A, 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment commented on the training he received in the AVCATT.

“I think it's great, it's a good way to incorporate everyone working together as a team,” said Olmstead. “It's a really good integration tool. It's definitely valuable training in my opinion. It's something we don't get to do on a regular basis here at home in garrison.”

Imagine the cost, the logistical nightmare, and the risk assessment involved in having every type of aircraft in the brigade all flying at the same time loaded with personnel and Hellfire missiles and other munitions supporting soldiers on the ground in M1 Abrams tanks, Bradleys, and other wheeled vehicles supporting a dismounted infantry battalion. With the LVC-IA, it is now possible to do this in a virtual environment almost as often as the commander would like. Only now instead of worrying about budgeting for fuel, bullets and missiles, the commander can now just budget for time. But some may wonder about how realistic the training can really be.

According to Maj. Jon Meredith, training officer, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, it's very realistic. Meredith played the role of the tactical commander at the CCTT. His team had a unique experience in the virtual training environment.

“That eight kilometer Hellfire shot from the Apache the first day was awesome,” said Meredith excitedly. “As the helicopter was firing, the guys in the tanks in the CCTT were reporting that the helicopter had just fired right above them. You could hear a little bit of strain in the pilot's voices on the radio as they were maneuvering around. It was very realistic.”

How successful was the training? Meredith summed it up.

“It's like going to the field without having to go to the field,” Meredith said.

By U.S. Army Sgt. William Begley
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2014

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