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October 26, 2012


McCoy receives Dismounted Soldier Training System simulator

Story & Photo Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

Fort McCoy is one of 28 Army installations receiving new Dismounted Soldier Training System (DSTS) equipment.

Brad Stewart, Fort McCoy Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) Director, said the Department of the Army accelerated the fielding schedule to ensure joint military forces had access to this gaming system as part of their Army Force Generation training cycle. Fort McCoy received the DSTS early in the fielding process as one of U.S. Army Forces Command designated Regional Collective Training Centers and a U.S. Army Reserve Command Combat Support Training Center.
PHOTO: Soldiers try out the Dismounted Soldier Training System. Photo by Rob Schuette
Sgt. 1st Class John Nixon (left) and Staff Sgt. Felicia Ingram of the Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell Noncomissioned Officer Academy at Fort McCoy try out the new equipment in the Dismounted Soldier Training System. The system is available now.

Active-duty, Reserve and National Guard installations are included in the fielding sites. The system, which consists of the computer program and equipment, costs a little more than $550,000.

DSTS generates training scenarios based on a live-virtual and gaming-integrated training environment. Units can use the system to train on various simulated dismounted scenarios. Personnel from any military service that have a ground mission, including the Marines, Navy and Air Force, also can use the system.

According to a DSTS news release, DSTS includes a fully immersive environment with high-fidelity graphics and technology that enables joint military forces to virtually interact with their physical environment and use combat equipment. These joint forces use natural motions just as they would in a live environment to perform motion maneuvers, such as leaning around or under an obstacle.

“It’s another system that helps us attain our strategic vision,” Stewart said. “It helps us create an integrated training environment, which can link live, virtual, constructive, and gaming simulation systems to provide commanders with a common operational picture of their unit’s missions across the entire decisive action training environment available at Fort McCoy to meet unit commander training objectives.”

Stewart said, for example, a unit or units could conduct scenarios including training on the DSTS, training at another Fort McCoy simulation facility and training at a field location and be tasked with coordinating all of the training at the various locations to accomplish their mission.

Additionally, this helps Fort McCoy meet the Army Reserve training strategy as the chief of the Army Reserve has directed.
Rob Weisbrod, Training Support officer, Fort McCoy DPTMS, said up to nine Soldiers participate at one time. Soldiers don the man-wearable immersive training system equipment, and the DSTS replicates most of the Army gear, including three types of weapons, necessary for training scenarios.

Available weapons in DSTS are M249 machine guns (squad automatic weapons), M4 rifles with M320 grenade launchers and M4 rifles.

Soldiers using the DSTS equipment stand on a type of pad several feet wide and do not move off of the pad during the scenario.

The technology, which includes Bluetooth, projects their actions and reactions as dismounted Soldiers and interacts with other personnel, equipment, weapons, etc., as part of a simulated battlefield environment in a virtual-reality scenario.

DSTS has the capability to transport the Soldiers to different locations in a simulated scenario using military vehicles.

The DSTS equipment contains the best features of other simulation equipment, much of which Fort McCoy has, and brings the scenarios together in a fully immersive virtual-training environment, Weisbrod said.

Soldiers can view the simulated video-game type scenarios and their interaction with the scenarios through helmet-mounted display equipment.

“The only thing units have to bring along for the training is their Army Combat Helmets,” Weisbrod said. “However, units must coordinate the scenarios they want to execute ahead of time to ensure they meet the commanders’ training objectives.”

Mike Borchers, a contracted technician for Intelligent Decisions Inc., the maker of the equipment, said the equipment can provide scenarios based on known deployment information and/or it can be customized to provide specialized training geared to units’ needs. Borchers, who provides operational support, and Ranse Clark, who provides maintenance support, are the on-site contractors supporting training on the system.

“The equipment will be valuable to any Soldier who has to conduct missions on foot,” Borchers said. “They can be medical, military police, civil affairs personnel, etc. They are projected as real people who react to a scenario and experience reactions to their simulated movement.”

A number of sensors are built into the equipment, including on the arms, leg, back packs, etc., to provide a virtual scenario depiction, Borchers said.

The equipment provides both video and sound depictions of a mission and allows for communication between the participants and the system operators. Operators also can program in scenarios to train the Soldiers in different tactics.

The DSTS system allows for a tactical training experience, enabling Soldiers to shoot, move and communicate as a cohesive squad instead of as individuals, according to a DSTS news release. Ultimately, through DSTS, Soldiers experience true tactical training while defending virtual fortresses or towns within the simulation, which offers them the unique opportunity to enhance team and squad tactics.

Advantages of the equipment include elimination of travel time to training areas, no ammunition use, and no weather considerations, Borchers said.

Because the equipment is mobile, Mobile Training Teams can provide off-site training, including to units participating in a weekend drill.

After a DSTS scenario is completed, participants can watch a replay of the training scenario during an after-action review. Commanders can use the review to improve their unit’s performance, Borchers said.

The system also has the capability to incorporate Fort McCoy range designs into the simulated training environment, Weisbrod added.

This allows units to conduct their rehearsals in a simulated Fort McCoy training environment to prepare for their missions prior to conducting live training at installation ranges.

DSTS training capacity is four to six squad missions per day, he said.

Weisbrod said the DSTS will complement other simulated systems, such as the Virtual Battle Space Simulation, the Reconfigurable Vehicle Tactical Trainer and the Engagement Skills Trainer, already available at the installation.

Eventually, all of the simulation systems will be grouped together so units can train on all the simulators in one facility or area of the post, he said.

For more information about the DSTS, contact Mike Borchers at 608-567-9866 (mborchers@intlligent.net) or Ranse Clark at 608-567-9939 (rclark@intelligent.net).

To schedule use of the facility, call DPTMS Range Scheduling at 608-388-3721/4142.

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