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 February 12, 2010

TRAINING

Vinyl product adds realistic look to buildings

Military personnel training in urban military tactics at Fort McCoy are finding more-realistic scenarios because of a new visual aid that makes buildings appear more similar to what they will find in-theater.

Matthew Schwark, the contracted site lead for Advanced System Technologies of the Warrior Training Alliance, said the material, called Military Wraps™, can be applied to the exterior or interior of buildings to replicate features found in Iraq or Afghanistan, for example.

PHOTO:Larry Leetz (left) and George Kresse of Military Wraps™ Defense System Company apply a vinyl product to a building in the MUTS-North area. Photo by Rob Schuette
Larry Leetz (left) and George Kresse of Military Wraps™ Defense System Company apply a vinyl product to a building in the MUTS-North area. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

Fort McCoy has added furniture, which is similar to what would be found in those buildings in-theater, to further replicate the overseas environment.

“It makes the buildings look as realistic as possible,” Schwark said. “Soldiers who have trained here before and served in-theater are telling us this is a much better depiction of what they encountered in-country.”

Dave Kracker of the Military Wraps™ Defense System Company of Lumberton, N.C., said the vinyl material is affixed to the walls and can depict a number of features, including signs, vegetation, windows, paintings, window sills, etc. The application process is similar to hanging wallpaper.

“We’ve done this at a number of military installations,” Kracker said. Military installations where the material has been used include Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Huachuca, Ariz.; and Redstone Arsenal, Ala., he said.

The product has a multi-year warranty and can be replaced fairly easily, if necessary, to reflect changing in-theater conditions, Kracker said. “The material is very durable, and easy to fix with scrap material if it is damaged through training.”

Schwark said the material and the furniture creates a very realistic environment for personnel training on clearing buildings or rooms in buildings.

The Regional Training Center-Central, which conducts premobilization training for Army Reserve Soldiers at Fort McCoy, and the 181st Infantry Brigade, which coordinates the mobilization training at Fort McCoy, have used the improved facilities.

“If there’s no furniture or obstacles, it’s fairly easy to clear rooms,” Schwark said. “The obstacles make it more realistic and force personnel to conduct the scenarios more carefully as they would do in-theater.”

The material is being installed at both Mobile Urban Training Sites (MUTS) North and South and Home Station Training Lanes 1 and 2. The material is used on both the exterior and interior of buildings on MUTS-North, and only the exterior of buildings on MUTS-South and the Home Station Training Lanes.

Schwark said the MUTS-North facilities have more technology available, such as cameras for after-action reports, noise and smoke technology, etc.

Terry Hoff, range officer for Fort McCoy’s Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS), said the project resulted from feedback received from servicemembers who served in-theater and is another step DPTMS took to make its training facilities appear as realistic as possible.

“It offers an improved immersive environment, which more closely represents the current operating environments being encountered by our Soldiers,” Hoff said.

The facilities can be used by units conducting mobilization training, premobilization training or other authorized training, he said.

For more information about scheduling training at Fort McCoy, call DPTMS Range Scheduling at 608-388-3721/3713/5313.       

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