Hold onto your hats Wyoming troops, there’s a new virtual sheriff in town with guns a blazin’. Virtual guns those are.
Staff Sgt. Stephen O’Donnell joined the staff at the Camp Guernsey Simulation Center in late May, as its facility manager, and has been talking up the one-stop shop for mobilization training ever since. The gung-ho soldier’s arrival was especially welcome in June when several units visited the camp for annual training.
Housing some of the latest technology for simulation training, the SIM Center is a warehouse made into a wonderland.
O’Donnell welcomes both military and civilian groups with open arms. Located on the southwest part of the camp, it’s a place where customers can try out life-size virtual reality weapons and vehicle systems.
The facility offers “everything to get a unit trained and operational,” O’Donnell said. “Our mission is to train units. If we don’t do our jobs, they can’t do theirs.”
The facility contains simulation systems which include the Electronic Simulator Trainer for rifles and handguns; an un-stabilized gunnery trainer; a virtual convoy operations trainer; a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle simulator for rollovers; a call-for-fire room; a kinetic sand table for creating terrain models; a 3D image maker which produces props for the sand table; and a virtual reality classroom for Humvee driving simulations. A large classroom area complete with projectors for battalion-sized elements completes the picture.
The SIM Center has the resources available to keep its doors open for 24 hours as long as there is staff to run the facility. According to O’Donnell, that staff comes from the Wyoming Guard or other units who visit Camp Guernsey, as long as they are trained and certified on the virtual systems. The units can make their own schedules created by their own trained staff, making it exponentially easier to use the facility.
“We want units to know what’s in the building and what it’s used for,” O’Donnell said. “Units can use the simulators as qualification before they even get out into the field.”
The SIM Center is set up to be taken in as complementary blocks of instruction, so it can all be done at one time. Touting the simple process, O’Donnell said, “All a unit has to do is set up a block of time, and as long as they have those in the unit that are qualified to run the different areas, all of the training can be done in less than a day.”