Fort McCoy News November 28, 2014

Ranges improved with video, AAR capabilities

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Fort McCoy Ranges 2, 4, 26 and 29 on North Post recently were upgraded with new video and after-action review (AAR) capabilities.

Phase one of the upgrade was completed Oct. 24. The work included installing 10 permanently mounted cameras at elevated positions and 18 cameras that can be mounted to vehicles for training purposes.

Photo for video article
John Moran of Computer Science Corp., inspects a vehicle-mounted camera
in the after-action review (AAR) building at the Range 29 complex on Fort McCoy's North Post. Troops who train on Ranges 2, 4, 26 and 29 on North Post now have the option to use new video and AAR capabilities.

Integrated radios, repeaters and video (cameras) flow information into an AAR building on Range 29, according to Electronics Technician John Moran of Computer Science Corp. (CSC), the contractor that will operate the video/AAR systems. "The system can capture video both day and night for units to have (so the can) review their training on these ranges."

Moran said the video installation project started in June. A second phase to incorporate 30 personnel-worn cameras should be complete in early 2015.

"Units can use this system now for training if they'd like," said Moran, a seven-year Army veteran who served as an infantryman in a cavalry unit and has deployment experience from Operation Iraqi Freedom. "With this capability, they can see how they are training in real-time and also can get a DVD of the video after they finish training. This will help troops improve on their training capabilities in events like mounted patrols and convoy operations."

The new capability also should have an impact for newer service members who train at Fort McCoy for pre-deployment preparation, or on regular extended combat training tours.

"I know from my own experience that having the ability to do an AAR right after a training event is helpful," Moran said. "Trying to recall everything that happened during a training event is difficult, and you could miss out on an important detail.

"The ability to pull up an entire (training event) and to be able to break it down step-by-step is something that can be valuable to not only to younger Soldiers, but their entire unit as well," Moran said. "They can get done with an event, with the action still fresh in their mind, and then look at the video playback. They should then be better able to recall what has happened to improve their overall training experience."

Commanders also have the ability to make adjustments to their formations while live training is taking place. "Through a live video feed, they can watch what's taking place and relay information to their troops on adjusted courses of action," Moran said.

"Anything that can be done to (better) evaluate the mission is good," said Electronics Technician Ron Dufek, also from CSC. "This will definitely be an improvement for all the training that will take place on these ranges in the future."

Range Officer Mike Todd of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) Range Management Branch said it is a unique system because it also covers live-fire scenarios.

"It enhances learning of other units and leaders who are preparing to execute the same scenario or some training that is closely similar — especially with live-fire training where you have to limit the number of observers for safety reasons," Todd said.

"The instrumentation provides a live-camera feed so other folks can observe from a safe distance," Todd said. "A potential scenario is where one squad in a company can observe the live-fire iteration of another squad, conduct their own critique of the iteration to discover good actions to replicate, and identify weaknesses to avoid."

The video/AAR system on North Post is not the first of its kind at Fort McCoy. The Combined Arms Collective Training Facility (CACTF) on South Post allows video playback of unit training events.

"The system we have for North Post at Ranges 2, 4, 26 and 29 allows for video coverage of a wider scope of training over a wider area," Moran said. "That's where we differ from the CACTF, yet both areas are great places for troop training."

For more information about Fort McCoy ranges, call the DPTMS Range Management Branch at 608-388-4629.