The Bayonet

Wednesday, May. 29, 2013

Maneuver, aviation captains fight virtual battle

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Students in the Maneuver Captains Career Course got a chance last week to collaborate with students in the Aviation Captains Career Course to retake a captured police station in downtown Columbus and return it to the government — all without leaving their seats.

The exercise was a simulation run through the Virtual Battlespace 2 program, which allows users at individual laptop stations to communicate and interact with each other and with users in other locations in a virtual environment. Captains from MCCC Class 3-13 took part in the simulation exercise May 22.

The integration of captains from other Army centers of excellence into the VBS 2 exercises is part of larger efforts that began in November 2012 to integrate more collaboration between the Maneuver Center of Excellence and other Army centers of excellence into training. The MCCC has also begun collaborating in VBS 2 with students in the Field Artillery Basic Officer Leadership Course at the Fires Center of Excellence at Fort Sill, Okla.

In the May 22 exercise, students in the AVCCC, located at the Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Ala., controlled air elements in the same virtual environment in which the MCCC students controlled maneuver elements.

“It’s extremely important that they talk and communicate with the pilots because it’s what they will be doing downrange,” said Maj. Jeff Kornbluth, simulations officer for the MCCC. “They’ll have a good understanding of what pilots expect of them and of their terminology. We don’t want them to be doing this for the first time on the battlefield.”

The MCCC students also collaborated with the AVCCC students on the operations order for the exercise before they carried it out. The MCCC students drafted the OPORD and received input from the AVCCC students on the aviation parts before briefing it to them.

“Simulations are important because whenever we do combined arms (training) it’s a very complex environment, so this is absolutely a good thing for us to do, especially in this fiscal climate,” said Capt. Kevin Beyer, who acted as company commander during the exercise. “It was pretty cool to know you have somebody out there on the other end who understands the capabilities of the aviation platform more than we do. As a future company commander, this will be invaluable to coordinating with someone of a different branch and background.”

Capt. Nicolas Terpin said he had used the VBS 2 program before but found that collaborating with Fort Rucker added another dimension to the training.

“I think it’s highly beneficial because talking to real people adds authenticity,” he said. “Leaders can talk back and forth and gain an understanding of each others’ tactical language.”

Simulations like VBS 2 can play an important role in training by providing experiences that would otherwise be difficult or costly, Kornbluth said.

“Live training costs a lot and with the fiscal uncertainty the Army is facing, we’re encouraging these future company commanders to use simulations to bridge that gap,” he said.

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