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MAGTFTC Battle Simulation Center puts combat in virtual perspective

29 Feb 2008 | Lance Cpl. Nicholas M. Dunn

The Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command Battle Simulation Center is providing deploying Marines and sailors with a variety of cutting-edge virtual training tools to help them prepare for today’s combat environment.

 The BSC was stood up at the Combat Center in 1996 and originally offered only a couple of training simulations, the MAGTF Tactical Warfare Simulation and the Joint Conflict and Tactical Simulation, said Gary R. Stump, BSC site manager and simulation analyst.

 MTWS focused primarily on larger-scale training, meaning the company, battalion and regimental levels, while JCATS was designed to train Marines at the fire team through platoon levels.

 “We’ve always been here to train Marines, but since 1996, we’ve expanded,” said Stump. “We have a lot more capabilities now than we did back then.”

 The Battle Simulation Center works closely with the MAGTF Integrated Systems Training Center, which focuses of command and control systems training. To date, the BSC offers 10 different training simulators and the MISTC hosts seven training programs.

 Virtual Battle Space 1 and 2: VBS 1/2 are PC-based first-person viewpoints of a fully functional battlefield that focus on smaller-unit operations. VBS2 is currently more advanced and more prevalent than its older counterpart. Depending on the demands of the individual units, VBS can take the form of many different combat scenarios and environments, which can immerse between one and 100 Marines into a virtual world where small-unit leaders can test their standard operating procedures, as well as conduct rehearsals on the same terrain they will be likely walking to in the near future.

 MAGTF Tactical Warfare Simulation: MTWS is a “birds-eye-view” of a battlefield that allows unit commanders to practice command and control functions, and standard operating procedures. The simulation offers real-time engagement and movement, and mission recording for after-action review.

 Commanders using MTWS can receive orders from their combat operations center for their units and carry out those orders through the simulation.

 Forward Observer PC Simulation: FOPCSim is another PC-based first-person viewpoint, similar to VBS, only focusing on a forward observer calling for artillery fire support. The purpose of the simulator is to hone the individual Marines’ call-for-fire skills on stationary and mobile targets. The program can be used by itself as well as integrated with other simulators, which make up the Combined Arms Network.

 Tactical Language and Cultural Trainer: TLCT is designed to teach Marines the basic principles of language they will certainly use in their upcoming deployments. TLCT instructs Marines in the essential elements of Iraqi Arabic and critical aspects of Iraqi culture. The trainer helps Marines become proficient with the language and the culture. In addition to Iraqi Arabic, TLTC offers simulation training for Afghani Dari and Pashto, and Creole French.

 Recognition of Combatants: The ROC is a three-part series featuring training in the identification of improvised explosive devices, suicide bombers and vehicles. The programs familiarize Marines with various hazards they may encounter on the battlefield.

 Combined Arms Planning Tool: The CAPT program is designed to test the elements of a commander’s fire support plan. It is able to test a fire support plan and identify potential problems based on war fighting doctrine, which is incorporated into the program.

 Virtual Combat Convoy Trainer: This training simulator consists of four mock High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles with a 360-degree view. VCCT is designed to simulate convoy operations in a combat environment. It can be used alongside other simulations to familiarize Marines with how to use convoys in conjunction with other operations.

 Operator Driver Simulator: ODS is a training program used to teach Marines how to operate HMMWVs, Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements, known as seven-ton trucks, and, coming soon, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. The system can simulate a number of driving conditions in most foreign areas of operation.

 HMMWV Egress Assistance Trainer: The purpose of HEAT is to simulate HMMWVs in rollover conditions. It teaches Marines the proper ways to exit a vehicle that is upside down and assist fellow Marines who were injured in the rollover. Marines are also required to transport injured Marines to safety and secure the simulated rollover site.

 MISTC: MISTC is designed to train MAGTF commanders and battle staffs in the art and science of command and control so they can better organize, deploy, fight and defeat the enemy.

 Maj. C. Neil Fitzpatrick, BSC modeling and simulations officer, said in addition to the numerous simulators the BSC has to offer, it is also working on integrating simulations with live training exercises.

 “One of the things we’re looking at is the integration of live forces in the field with virtual and constructive simulation,” said Fitzpatrick. “If a company is training in the field alone, we can simulate other units on the battlefield that don’t really exist, but are needed for staff planning purposes.”

 Constructive simulation is currently being used by the BSC and is fully operational, but Fitzpatrick said they are ready to move to the next phase.

 “Imagine a unit in the field alone conducting an attack at Range 410A,” he said. “If the Marines in the field are instrumented, we can simulate a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) flying in the area that provides the unit commander the ability to see everything that’s going on from the UAV’s perspective.”

 Fitzpatrick added the simulation center could provide exercise commanders this capability at his unit operation center. Both Stump and Fitzpatrick project this to be fully functional within the next three to five years.

 The Battle Simulation Center trains approximately 15,000 Marines annually from units throughout the Marine Corps. They will continue to provide Marines the training they need in preparation for their field exercises and ultimately their deployments in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

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