NATO Group Visits Guard Site to Scout Training Opportunities
By Army Sgts. Joseph Rivera Rebolledo and Bradley Staggs
Special to American Forces Press Service
CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind., April 10, 2009 NATO’s Urban Warfare Working Group paid a visit last week to Camp Atterbury-Muscatatuck Center for Complex Operations in search of training options for deploying troops.
Army Lt. Col. Edward Boegle, commander of 1st Battalion, 335th Infantry Regiment, briefs part of the NATO command group on the training area in Camp Atterbury, Ind., April 2, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Spc. John Crosby
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Swedish Army Capt. Richard Eriksson said the simulator training available at Camp Atterbury and live urban-terrain training available at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville, Ind., was exactly what he and the seven other NATO delegates wanted to see during their visit. The Camp Atterbury-Muscatatuck center provided the immersive, real-world training that NATO countries want, he said.
“To have [simulator] mission training before going out on missions so you can train escort [duties], that was very nice,” Eriksson said. “I think we should have that in Sweden.”
The trainers, soldiers from the 205th Infantry Brigade, showed the NATO delegation how they ensure soldiers are prepared to recognize combatants and noncombatants in all situations, allowing mistakes to be made in training, not in combat.
Army Col. Steven M. Merkel, 205th Infantry Brigade commander, said the trainers use many methods to give soldiers the realistic training experience.
“Here at Atterbury, we use a number of different techniques to include rules of engagement training, dry fires, and also the Engagement Skill Trainer 2000, which is a marksmanship video game that allows us to run simulated shoot-don’t shoot scenarios, so the soldiers get used to – and probably more importantly – feel confident and competent in their ability to make quick decisions on how to most appropriately respond in certain situations,” he said.
What helps to create the realistic scenarios is the replication of three systems present in any urban environment: terrain, society and infrastructure, Merkel said.
“We have [Muscatatuck] available, which allows us to train American soldiers in each of those dimensions, because it has the tunnels, the roof tops and obviously, it has the surface area and the air space to operate within,” he said.
Army bLt. Col. Chris Kelsey, site manager at Muscatatuck, said one of the center’s advantages is that trainers can make a training site look like a city street, including pedestrians.
“Everybody who works here is ‘in-play,’” he explained to the group. “That means that if a training group needs to have a busy Middle Eastern market, we can provide that.”
In the past five years, the trainers at Muscatatuck and Camp Atterbury have learned how to integrate the facilities, their experience and commanders’ needs into a realistic, relevant training experience.
“The place is just incredible. I wish we had a place to train like this,” said Swedish Army Capt. Johan Eklof after touring the Muscatatuck facility.
British Army Maj. Paul Fox said he, too, would like to implement the same business model in other places throughout NATO, but he would really like to train his troops at MUTC. “I just think that it is a great way to train,” he said.
(Army Sgt. Joseph Rivera Rebolledo serves with the 205th Infantry Brigade, Camp Atterbury public affairs. Army Sgt. Bradley Staggs serves with the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center’s public affairs office.)