Marines practice with OFP/VBS before going to Iraq
Full article + picsOriginally Posted by [bQuote[/b] ]MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (March 10, 2004) -- Marines are facing rocket propelled grenade attacks, improvised explosive devices, suicide bombers and many other threats found in Iraq, all from the comfort of a computer screen in an air-conditioned cubicle. A modified version of the interactive computer game Operation Flashpoint, with the assistance of some Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans, is training Marines preparing to deploy to Iraq.
“This training allows units to run through an endless amount of scenarios to prepare them for the unexpected,” said Cpl. Gary W. Hogue, a 21-year-old from Saint Louis, Mo. The 2nd Marine Division field wireman was with Task Force Tarawa when the first Marine ground forces hit Iraq in 2003. He uses his firsthand knowledge of war to plan and execute combat missions on the Virtual Battlefield System.
“The unit leaders tell us what they want their Marines to experience and we plan out combat scenarios for them on the computer system,” he said.
Hogue works with Marines and a team of computer technicians to develop and execute the combat missions. The hazel-eyed Marine and his comrades man computers where they control the movements of insurgents. This means the unit undergoing the training has to think on their feet. It isn’t just a computer program they’re up against, it’s a real person.
“There was a unit which came through here doing convoy training. We (technicians) set the insurgents up with sniper rifles and took out one of the drivers in the vehicles on their computer screens,” Hogue said. The 5-feet-9-inch Marine added, “They went into a frenzy, not knowing what to do. We could have picked the whole convoy off, one by one. These are the mistakes we want units to make here so they don’t make them in Iraq.”
One unit using the software recently was the 4th Amphibious Assault Battalion, a reserve unit headed to Iraq later this month. The Marines normally train and operate with Amphibious Assault Vehicles in teams, which the computer program replicated. The Marines in each vehicle team were kept together in their own cubicle with a walkie-talkie to imitate the radio they would use to communicate with their platoon commander.
“It’s OK to make mistakes here. We can find out what problems we’re going to have before we ever hit the ground in Iraq,” said Staff Sgt. Brad R. Reichard, the maintenance chief for the unit. The Boone, N.C., native added, “The best part about this program is when a mistake is made here, no one dies.”
The unit found this out for themselves when their convoy was attacked by vehicle-born IEDs, suicide bombers and mortars. They were forced to think on their feet when lead vehicles were hit or when a convoy commander was killed.