[ Triad Online Home ]                                                                                            April 13, 2007
Training

WMA opens new battle simulation center for artillery

By Rob Schuette, Triad Staff

      The Wisconsin Military Academy (WMA), building 90, has opened a new Battle Simulation Center at its Fort McCoy facility.

       Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Donovan, the Field Artillery Battalion Operations noncommissioned officer (NCO) for the Wisconsin Regional Training Institute (WI RTI) (426th Regiment), said the WMA Simulation Center includes a completely networked, closed-loop artillery simulation system.

Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Donovan (right) goes over battle scenarios with students in a field artillery fire support class at the WMA Simulation Center. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Donovan (right) goes over battle scenarios with students in a field artillery fire support class at the WMA Simulation Center. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

      This includes a howitzer crew trainer (HCT), a call for fire trainer (CFFT), an advanced field artillery tactical data system (AFATDS) and a Force XXI (21) Battle Command, Brigade-and-Below (FBCB2) laboratory.

      Fort Sill, Okla., the proponent school for field artillery training, has a Joint Fires and Effects Battle Lab, which has many of the same or similar systems, he said.

      Donovan said, however, the WMA facility is the only facility in the Army that has the HCT, CFFT, AFATDS and the FBCB2 under the same roof. Other facilities have the same simulations, but they are not under the same roof and are not networked together, he added.

      "The (WMA) facility will make available the most recent advances in Field Artillery Digital and Simulation training," he said. "Our ability to network the systems together will broaden the understanding of Soldiers who attend field artillery courses by allowing them to train with other MOSes (military occupational specialty). Through networking the systems we're able to better illustrate the interoperability and coordination requirements between the different teams of the field artillery."

      "The primary purpose of our facility is to train Soldiers attending the WI RTI Field Artillery Courses," Donovan said. "It also is designed to support Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers and units."

Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Donovan (second from right) explains the workings of a Lightweight Laser Designator range Finder to a student during call for fire support training at the WMA Simulation Center. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Donovan (second from right) explains the workings of a Lightweight Laser Designator range Finder to a student during call for fire support training at the WMA Simulation Center. 
(Photo by Rob Schuette)

      One of the first courses to use the new facility included students in an Advanced NCO Course (ANCOC) for field artillery fire support personnel (13F40) and a Basic NCO Course (BNCOC) for field artillery fire support personnel (13F30), Donovan said.

      Sgt. 1st Class Andrew P. Glatz of the Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 102nd Cavalry (Reconnaissance Surveillance and Target Acquisition) of Westfield, N.J., said the course and training in the facility helped him complete the ANCOC requirement for the 13F40 Fire Support NCO.

      "(The Battle Simulation Center) added the controlled chaos that is true in all operation centers during any and all combat operations," Glatz said. "This military course was the most in-depth training in my MOS I have ever done in my 16 years in the military."

      The WMA Simulation Center primarily will be used for MOS qualified and Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES) field artillery training, Donovan said.

      Staff Sgt. Craig Cook of Detachment 1, Headquarters and Headquarters Service of the 1st, 120th Field Artillery of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., said he took the course to complete his 13F BNCOC requirements.

      "Having been deployed down range twice and being able to get the training that the WMA Field Artillery Branch offers is something that you can use to help you perform your job while at annual training or for your future deployment in-theater," Cook said. "It is cutting edge digital training that allows the Army National Guard to stay on top with the active component (personnel.)"

      The JANUS (Joint Analog-Numerical Understanding System) exercise offered during the training allowed Cook to prepare, plan, rehearse, and then see the plan executed on the battlefield. Cook said it was the next best training to actually being put into a combat situation.

      Sgt. 1st Class Brian Kerr of Detachment 1 of the 1st, 143rd Field Artillery of Concord, Calif., said the training allowed him to meet an NCOES requirement while providing him with personal enrichment and career development training.

      "This is the first time I have seen JANUS interact with the Blue Force Tracker (FBCB2) and the CFFT," Kerr said. "This is an important step in the evolution of digital simulation training."

      "The integration of the FBCB2 allows us to see  the same Common Operating Picture that Tactical Operations Centers in most theaters already are seeing; this allows the training a realistic feel," he said.

      "The implementation of CFFT into the exercise is crucial because it bridges the planner to executor gap that always is difficult to relay not only in real time, but to relay through actual eyes and actual reporting, instead of a generated template."

      The CFFT also allows the students to experience Soldier action, reaction and counteraction in real time, he said.

      If the facility isn't being used to support field artillery courses or Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers, it also can be used to support the needs of active-component or Reserve units or other governmental agencies, Donovan said.

      That would include helping Fort McCoy meet an increased training requirement, such as for mobilizing troops, that couldn't be met with the current simulation facilities, he said.

      While the Engagement Skills Trainer systems in the Fort McCoy simulation facilities are used to train squad tactics using rifles and other individual and crew-served weapons, the WMA Battle Simulation Center CFFT is used to train field artillery forward observers in tasks, such as call for fire using mortars, field artillery or Naval gunfire or for close air support.

      "Each room also can be used independently as a classroom and has network capability to support any Battlefield Operating System," Donovan said. "Units could bring in a maneuver control system or an FBCB2 and train large numbers of Soldiers using the existing network."

      The installation uses its FBCB2 to support mobilizing Soldiers, he said.

      The WMA Simulation Center FBCB2 is used to conduct the course requirements the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) put on the technical phase of the Basic NCO Course in the artillery 30-level courses.

      The 426th Regiment will  host an open house during the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Governor's Day in June. 

      For details, contact Donovan at (608) 388-9961 or e-mail 
christopher.donovan@us.army.mil
.

      Training at the WMA Simulation Center can be arranged through sending Soldiers to MOSQ or NCOES courses, or by contacting WMA Facilities Management for unit training at (608) 388-9907 or via e-mail at nicholas.clarke@us.army.mil.

 

[ Top of Page ]

[ Triad Online Home ]