No gas, no bullets, no problem: Units fill training needs with simulators

Soldiers assigned to 2nd Sqdn., 13th Cav. Regt., 4th BCT, 1st AD, use the Virtual Battlefield Simulation 2 program to conduct training Oct. 29. Photos by Sgt. Robert Larson, 4th BCT, 1st AD Public Affairs.

Soldiers assigned to 2nd Sqdn., 13th Cav. Regt., 4th BCT, 1st AD, use the Virtual Battlefield Simulation 2 program to conduct training Oct. 29. Photos by Sgt. Robert Larson, 4th BCT, 1st AD Public Affairs.

By Sgt. Robert Larson, 4th BCT, 1st AD Public Affairs:

Soldiers need to train. Going to the range to prepare for missions used to be an every day activity for most units. However, with shrinking budgets and a government shutdown, many units at Fort Bliss had to cancel training events due to funding.

With training requirements piling up, 4th Brigade Combat Team turned to the one resource they could use for free, the Fort Bliss Simulation Center.

Fort Bliss has some of the best state-of-the-art equipment found in the Army. The Engagement Skills Trainer, or EST 2000, helps Soldiers prepare for a variety of small arms and crew served weapons scenarios, to include weapons qualification practice.

Staff Sgt. Gary Estrada, master gunner for 2nd Sqdn., 13th Cav. Regt., 4th BCT, 1st AD, runs a simulation for one of his gunnery candidates at Fort Bliss Bradley Advanced Training System site Oct. 18.

Staff Sgt. Gary Estrada, master gunner for 2nd Sqdn., 13th Cav. Regt., 4th BCT, 1st AD, runs a simulation for one of his gunnery candidates at Fort Bliss Bradley Advanced Training System site Oct. 18.

Vehicle crews can also get valuable training in simulators. The Bradley Advanced Training simulator helps crews learn skills and hone teamwork without having to take vehicles to the field. The same goes for Close Combat Tactical Trainer, Mission Training Center and other training simulators at the Fort Bliss Simulation Center.

“The simulations are important because it gives the Soldiers the familiarity with the controls and allows them to gain that experience without the potential of harming someone, losing training value, or wasting resources,” said 2nd Lt. Stephen Lask, platoon leader of “Attack Troop,” 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.

This simulator time is preparing Soldiers for gunnery ranges, and eventually, March 2014 gunnery qualification ranges.

Pfc. Erik Cisneros-Herrera, 2nd Sqdn., 13th Cav. Regt., 4th BCT, 1st AD, sits in gunner’s chair of the Bradley Advanced Training System simulator Oct. 18.

Pfc. Erik Cisneros-Herrera, 2nd Sqdn., 13th Cav. Regt., 4th BCT, 1st AD, sits in gunner’s chair of the Bradley Advanced Training System simulator Oct. 18.

For Soldiers out of basic training and advanced individual training, this was their first time training to develop skills necessary for success downrange. Getting hands-on experience with simulators is the first step to integrating them into the teams when they deploy.

“It is better for us to come here, before wasting ammo downrange. We can come here, qualify here, then going down range is easy,” said Pfc. Jordon Bentivenga, an M2 Bradley fighting vehicle gunner from 2nd Sqdn., 13th Cav. Regt., 4th BCT, 1st AD.

“If we could hit this up once a week that would be awesome.”

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