Practicing combat on the big screen
By Cpl. Codey Underwood
| 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit | October 30, 2013
CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan --
Surrounded by bright screens covering an octagon of walls, Marines in flak jackets and Kevlar helmets enter a modified Humvee ready for combat. Though the enemies were digital and the rounds simulated, this was not a game.
Marines with Combined Anti-Armor Team, Weapons Co., Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, trained in the Combat Convoy Simulator here, Oct. 29.
The CCS puts the Marines in realistic situations, using recoil simulating weapon systems while maneuvering Humvee’s through a variety of scenarios in a combat zone. The $5.5 million training facility simulates high value target extractions, security patrols, medical evacuations and calling for close-air support . The simulator provides a chance to hone their skills in convoy operations without the logistical requirements and environmental considerations of a real world mission.
“The CCS allows us to get in the simulator work on convoy operations without the problems of finding fuel, chow and vehicles,” said 1st Lt. Matthew T. Sommer, the CAAT platoon commander with BLT 2/4, 31st MEU, and a native of Mount Clemens, Mich.
The scenario CAAT platoon experienced inserted them into Al Fallujah, Al Anbar Province, Iraq, during the height of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The mission tested their knowledge, teamwork and abilities.
“The simulator put us in a desert environment and in situations we would very likely encounter on a patrol,” said Lance Cpl. Ryan E. Leathley, a gunner with CAAT, BLT 2/4, 31st MEU, and a native of San Ramon, Calif. “Moving from one end of the town to the other, we had to utilize all of our skills in patrolling. Security halts, firing simultaneously on line, and learning when and where to provide security were just some of the skills we used.”
When the enemy presented itself in the scenario, the Marines engaged with pressurized air versions of their weapons, simulating a life-like recoil. The troops could see where their rounds impacted throughout the computer-generated battlefield, allowing them to make adjustments while engaging multiple targets at varied distances.
When the scenario is complete, the CCS allows the unit to review the mission in its entirety on the screens. This allows the Marines to analyze their performance, identify what worked and focus on aspects needing improvement. Most importantly, all of the realistic combat training can be done safely.
“When it comes down to it, we train so we can perfect things before we have to rock it in real life. It is much better to mess up here where there is no threat, than mess up in an actual combat situation,” said Cpl. Keith A. Smith, a section leader with CAAT, BLT 2/4, 31st MEU, and a native of Minneapolis, Min.
Sustainment training maintains the MEU’s readiness as the only continuously forward deployed MEU and the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.