Fort McCoy News October 28, 2016

Installation's VCTS training capability growing

STORY & PHOTO BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

The Virtual Clearance Training Suite (VCTS) has been growing in capability and usage since it was established at Fort McCoy in 2013.

The VCTS is located in five trailers at the Fort McCoy training simulation complex in the 200 block and is designed to teach Army counter-improvised explosive device route-clearance operations for engineer units.

"We've seen the (VCTS) get a lot of use this year, especially between June and September when more than 2,500 people trained on the system," said VCTS Operator Robert Koller with contractor CSRA Inc. supporting the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS).

Marines direct and follow a training simulation scenario in the Virtual Clearance Training Suite at Fort McCoy during a recent Combat Support Training Exercise.
Marines direct and follow a training simulation scenario in the Virtual
Clearance Training Suite at Fort McCoy during a recent Combat Support
Training Exercise.

The training suite teaches the latest tactics, techniques, and procedures for route clearance and allows service members to practice procedures on how to employ route-clearance vehicles and increase their skills, Koller said.

"Though it is mainly used for route-clearance training simulation scenarios, it also has been a good training venue for convoy operations, convoy security, land-navigation, and driver training for people from all military services," Koller said. "We can hold training for 27 people at a time, and we've had Marines, Airmen, and Sailors train here in addition to Soldiers."

The VCTS trailers contain reconfigurable simulators, including those for the mine-protected clearance vehicle (Buffalo), vehicular-mounted mine-detector (Husky), medium mine-protected vehicle (RG31/Panther) with gunner stations, man-transportable robotic system (Talon), Vehicle Optics Sensor System, and instructor-operator stations.

"In the training, I've seen how it helps build teamwork," Koller said, "I've also seen how it gives more-experienced (service members) the chance to pass on their knowledge, whether it be in convoy operations, route clearance, route security, or convoy security."

VCTS use increased when it was moved to the 200 block more than a year ago. There, it is located with other training simulators, such as the Reconfigurable Vehicle Tactical Trainer (RVTT), Engagement Skills Trainer, and Call for Fire Trainer.

During the 2016 Warrior Exercise and the Combat Support Training Exercise, Koller said being centrally located with the other training simulators was especially beneficial.

"Since the VCTS has been centrally located with the other systems, we've found that if the other training areas have too many people that we can take the overflow over here and keep training moving along," Koller said. "How we train in the VCTS is very similar to how it's done in the RVTT. We also can match maps with the other systems, which helps build further training capability."

The VCTS can offer trainees a wide variety of scenarios featuring various types of terrain, such as flat and mountainous terrain. "It also can simulate many different environmental conditions, such as rain, snow, or fog," Koller said.

DPTMS Training Support Officer Rob Weisbrod said use of simulation-training capabilities like the VCTS provides an opportunity for units to conduct rehearsals before going out to train on live-fire ranges and also gives units the opportunity to practice their battle drills, communications, and leadership skills.

"Once people see how the simulators and trainers tie into their live training, it's a really easy selling point," Weisbrod said. "Simulation training can't replace live training, but it helps enhance skills for those who train here, plus it's also a very cost-effective training method. The VCTS is just one of several great systems we have available for units to complete training."

For more information about simulation-training opportunities at Fort McCoy, call 608-388-2733.