Fort Lewis practices war on screen
The 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment lost virtually all of its soldiers and moved to Fort Lewis. There, new troops or transfers are rebuilding the unit into the fourth Stryker Brigade Combat Team. They previously were an armored-humvee brigade.
The military increasingly is relying on digital simulators as a training tool, and Wednesday’s opening of the $21 million Battle Command Training Center will take this virtual regimen to the next level, military officials said.
“This type of facility for all soldiers is what is going to make it better and save lives,” said Col. Debra Lewis, commander of the Seattle division of the Army Corps of Engineers, which managed the construction project.
The center isn’t a substitute for training ranges, where soldiers spend countless hours honing their combat skills and unit movement. It excels at enabling soldiers and commanders to fine-tune their communication and timing as they train in a digital realm to fight enemy forces, said Jim Manno, a civilian trainer at the center.
When Manno served in the military, troops spent a lot of time resetting a field training exercise if a commander didn’t like the movement of his unit or how it engaged an enemy force, he said.
With digital simulators, the commander can start over with the click of a button.
Staff Sgt. Lowell Frink, a soldier with A Troop, 1stSquadron of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, said the benefit of the technology is that new soldiers can rapidly learn how to work in a variety of formations.
“It doesn’t replace going to the field,” he said, “but this is a good trainer to train you up so when you go to the field … you don’t waste time, you can go right into the training phase. It’s a good asset.”
Given the large amount of high-tech gear in today’s digital army, this only makes sense. As long as field practice doesn’t suffer. It seems to me that you could learn a lot in these sorts of simulations and practice different things and try multiple scenarios so that when you do get to the range you’ve already eliminated a lot of the “wasted time” trying to figure out dumb stuff.
The new center is the size of a football field and contains 844 workstations and 52 miles of communication cable. Its technology can be used for every facet of a military operation, from planning to rehearsal to execution.
It can train troops from all branches of the military, active-duty, Guard and Reserve, as well as federal agencies and coalition forces. The center allows soldiers from around the globe to link together. The center employs more than 120 military and civilian personnel and contractors, and it replaces 16 World War II-era buildings at the post.
Fort Lewis has pretty much become Styker Town, USA. The first two Stryker brigades are home based there, though the third is based in Alaska and the fifth will be in Hawaii. The flag of the 2nd ACR will be moving to Germany at some point in the future, but once again it will probably be different actual troops. The troops currently in the 2nd ACR (I’m not sure that it’s still going to be called ‘Regiment’, though, as it will likely become part of the 2nd Division) will probably remain at Ft. Lewis as part of the big repositioning plan.