|By Tom Michele, Eagle Systems and Services
“We would rather have you die a thousand times with us
than die once over there,” Brian Hoffman said. “That is Raydon’s motto
to go along with the Virtual Route Clearance Trainer (VRCT).”
Sgt. 1st Class John
Borchardt operates the VRCT .50 caliber virtual machine gun
while Staff Sgt. David Simmons is at the controls of the VRCT
Husky vehicle-mounted mine detector. Both Soldiers are
observer-controller-trainers with the 181st Infantry Brigade.
(Photo by Tom Michele)
Hoffman, a customer service technician-trainer with Raydon
Corporation, and two of his team members brought the Raydon four-trailer
VRCT set-up to Fort McCoy in early September to provide realistic
training for mobilizing Soldiers.
The four trailers contain the mock-up consoles and virtual .50 caliber
machine guns of the RG-31 Medium Mine Protected Vehicle and consoles of
the Buffalo Mine Protected Clearance Vehicle, Husky Vehicle Mounted Mine
Detection and the Joint Explosive Ordnance Disposal Rapid Response
Vehicle with its Talon Man Transportable Robotic System.
“VRCT training is great for Soldiers who haven’t even seen a Buffalo,
Husky, RG-31 or JERRV,” Hoffman said.
“We can stage up to 26 Soldiers at the same time on the four Buffalos,
two Huskys, four RG-31s, one JERRV and one Talon operator,” Hoffman
Those are spread out, or maybe condensed, into the four trailers, plus
five instructor-operator control stations.
“We practice route-clearance missions, setting up convoys with the
vehicles and having trainees operate through any of about 64 different
scenarios and react to the different situations like they will encounter
in Iraq or Afghanistan,” Hoffman said. “The
VRCT provides both individual and collective training.”
VRCT customer support technician
Brian Hoffman (left) explains VRCT operations to members of the
181st Infantry Brigade observer-controller-trainers in a
(Photo by Tom Michele)
Training realistically simulates combat conditions including terrain,
weather, visibility, vehicle operating conditions, improvised explosive
devices (IEDs) and opposing enemy forces. Simulations include friendly
and foe vehicles, IEDs, vehicle-borne IEDs, traffic obstacles and
special effects including friendly and enemy tracers, explosions, smoke,
vehicle dust trails and rocket-propelled grenade smoke.
VRCT scenarios demonstrate how to detect, mark, investigate and report
explosive hazards. Training sessions with student trainees are digitally
recorded and later played back as part of after-action reviews for the
Carlos Nieves, lead instructor, said “we are about saving lives.”
“We can give a lot more instructional value here and do it quicker, than
in the field. We have the ability to record and play back to Soldiers
what they did wrong and what they did right.”
The third member of the Raydon team, Amber Mahabir, said “we
continuously make upgrades to our hardware and software programs to
adapt to the changes that happen in-theater and as directed by the
“As the theater environment changes, so do we, so our warfighters in the
Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines can train as they fight.” he said.
The Raydon set-up at McCoy is one of nine being used across the country.