Engineered for Battle: Battle training evolves with technology
In this generation of smart phones, tablets and video games, just about everyone is looking for the latest and greatest in technology. Over the past couple decades or so, people have gone from letters and landlines to texting and video chats. The military and soldiers on Fort Drum are no different. A world of old school battle training has evolved into some of the most impressive technology you'll ever see. Our Brian Dwyer walks us through the new soldier training for missions and battles all over the world, all without leaving Fort Drum.
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FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- X-Box, Playstation, even the Wii. Studies show that 60 percent of American homes have some sort of video game system and all gamers under the age of 30 have been playing for decades. So when the soldiers of Fort Drum sit down at this desk to train, most of them feel right at home.
"They can relate to it right away. A lot of people learn either hands on, some people learn better in the classroom. This kind of brings them both together in one aspect or another. Plus they're having fun doing it at the same time. Probably their time off tonight they're going to go home and play video games anyway," Sgt. Bryce Torres said.
And while this may look like Modern Warfare or Call of Duty, this is not your ordinary gaming system. It's called VBS 2. Built specifically with the military and training in mind, the soldiers find themselves smack in the middle of near exact replicas of Fort Drum's training areas or even overseas.
"They're actually on a piece of Fort Drum terrain right now just like if we were to go out on land. It's a spot here on 7 Gulf," SFC Darren LeMorta said.
"It's good to get a soldier ready for what he's going to see. The way the buildings are made and everything, look a lot like the areas I was in Afghanistan. There's a few missions I did that was exactly like where I was when I was deployed in Afghanistan.
On this day, these soldiers are taking part in a Warrior Leaders Course. Soldiers interested in becoming officers, playing a video game to do it. Teaming up, seeing each other's moves and constant communication through headsets.
"Helping them build leadership skills, communication skills and working through different methods of communication," said Bruce Halloran, Virtual Training Team Chief.
Torres said, "The different sounds of a different round. You can tell whether it's an explosion. You can tell if it's an IED. You can tell if it's a mortar or if it's small arms fire or if it's full automatic."
And after each and every mission, the teams gather for an AAR, after action review. Every move they make is recorded and played back. They discuss the good and the bad and how to get better.
"If they make any type of mistakes and things like that here while we're in training, they can work that out prior to going on any type of deployment because as you know, 10th Mountain, we do deploy a lot," SSG Joshua Engbrecht said.
It's training that not only better prepares.
"I came into the Army in 1994. I wish I had this. It takes away a lot of the building phase and mistakes," LeMorta said.
But also helps in this time of BRAC and military cut backs.
Halloran said, "For the price of a light bulb, you can have a squad train multiple times in Afghanistan expending any amount of ammunition that would cost thousands of dollars in real world funding. Here it virtually costs nothing."