Fort McCoy News October 24, 2014

MILES gear still in use, supports exercises at McCoy

Public Affairs Staff

The Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES) has been a part of Army training at Fort McCoy since the 1980s. Today, some of the earlier "legacy" versions of MILES gear — as well as newer equipment — is available for troop training at the installation.

Photo for MILES article
Pfc. Damon Newlon of the Florida National Guard's 779th Engineer Battalion operates a machine gun equipped with Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES) gear during training at Fort McCoy. Newlon is also wearing a MILES harness on his helmet and torso. Photo by Sgt. Timothy Popp

The Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security Training Support Center (TSC) maintains all MILES gear at the post.
TSC Supervisory Supply Management Specialist John Kumpf said thousands of MILES gear units are used at Fort McCoy every year.

"This year alone has been a busy year for gear usage because of the type of training here," Kumpf said. "During CSTX (Combat Support Training Exercise), for example, we signed out more than 5,000 personnel sets and 300 vehicle kits of MILES gear."

MILES was introduced in 1980 to the Army as a training system to provide realistic battlefield environmental factors for Soldiers involved in training exercises.

The system provides tactical engagement simulation for direct fire "force-on-force" training using safe laser signals.

MILES gear is attached to harnesses worn on the helmet and chest of training service members, or is attached to vehicles with the special kits. To work, the MILES requires the sound of the firing of a blank cartridge to discharge the laser transmitter attached to a weapon. That, in turn, sends coded laser beams at laser detectors worn by service members or attached to vehicles. Laser beams that hit a detector are recorded as a "kill" or "near miss."

The "legacy" MILES gear, the first version of the system, was used almost exclusively by the Army into the 1990s. The gear was upgraded to the MILES 2000 series in the mid-1990s, and yet again since to the MILES Individual Weapons System (IWS).

"We still have 4,000 sets of the legacy MILES gear that sometimes gets used for training," Kumpf said. "We also have some of the MILES IWS gear here, and we'll also have MILES equipment sent here when there are large exercises taking place."

Photo for MILES article
Supervisory Supply Management Specialist John Kumpf of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security Training Support Center moves boxes of Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System equipment in building 495. Photo by Scott T. Sturkol

When MILES gear is needed, the TSC receives a request from units. They then work with what they have on inventory as well as other installations to meet the need.

"We're able to get the gear from other installations when we need a high number of sets," Kumpf said.

Melvin Pliner, material handler at TSC, said his section stays busy ensuring enough gear always is available for the training exercises at Fort McCoy each year.

"We keep track of a lot of sets in the warehouse," Pliner said. "When units come in to get them, we make sure they have what they need."

MILES gear is rugged and can operate in a variety of conditions, Kumpf said.

"It holds up well," Kumpf said. "It works in the cold and the heat. If it gets wet from rain or snow, it just keeps going."

In 2014, MILES gear usage was highest during the Warrior Exercise, CSTX, and the Exportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) exercise, Kumpf said.

Service members "take good care of the gear," Kumpf said. "The gear is an accountable item, so it is pretty well cared for, which also makes it easier for us to keep the equipment available for training."

The newest version of MILES gear in use by the Army is the Instrumentable MILES (IMILES) Individual Weapons System 2 (IWS 2). Its improved capabilities enhance training, according to the Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, and it can be sent to Fort McCoy during many of the large exercises that take place on post throughout the year.

IMILES IWS 2 is a man-worn, dismounted system, providing real-time casualty effects necessary for tactical engagement training and instrumented training scenarios, manufacturer specifications show. Event data can be downloaded for use in an after-action review and training assessment, and it replaces older systems in use.

For any version of MILES that comes through Fort McCoy for training, Kumpf said TSC, as well as instructors at post training facilities, receive the latest training on MILES gear operation.

"When there are new (MILES) devices, we're given the ability to go out and get the training on how they operate, and how to best maintain them," Kumpf said.

"From there, our training and experience is relayed to those who use the systems."

For more information about MILES gear at Fort McCoy, call the TSC at 608-388-2752.