CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Marines from 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, take advantage of training provided by the Combat Convoy Simulator aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Nov. 21. The CCS is a virtual reality system that provides an immersive environment and simulates the operation of tactical vehicles in convoy operations.
The CCS center has multiple rooms outfitted with replicas of military vehicles with mounted weapons, surrounded by screens. A computer program simulates different geographic locations and artificial intelligence characters with behavior that changes according to actions the convoys take.
“You’re in the actual hull of a Humvee or 7-ton and surrounded by screens to run the simulation,” said Sgt. Michael Solis, squad leader, 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group. “You have weapons that work. You have [communications] that work. It’s a pretty realistic simulation of what you’re getting into. It’s about as real as you’re going to get without going to theater.”
The CCS is just another tool Marines are adding to their toolkit of training aids, using advances in technology to train in the most efficient and effective methods. The Marine Corps has already adopted a similar system for learning weapon systems. The Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer uses some of the same technology to train Marines on a simulated firing range.
“The use of technology as a training aid is becoming more and more common,” said 1st Lt. Tyler Whisnant, platoon commander, 1st Platoon, Bravo Co., 7th ESB.
The majority of the Marines have never used the CCS before, but its digital platform is familiar to video games that the current generation of service members is accustomed to, added Whisnant.
“This was my first time using the [CCS simulator],” said Solis, a native of Toms River, N.J. “This was outstanding training. I think more units need to come out here and do this. It’s one of the better training evolutions I’ve been a part of.”
The system also provides a cost-effective training environment for service members. Many of the logistical costs that go into planning and executing training in real-world environments are eliminated with the CCS.
“[The training] removes a lot of the friction we have,” said Whisnant, a native of Kalamazoo, Mich. “For one, it’s cheaper. We’re not spending money on fuel or extra chow. We can focus on the basics of what a convoy should look like, what immediate actions to take under fire or how to call a 9-line [evacuation]. It’s a controlled environment where we can work on these basics before we head out into the field and practice in a [real environment].”
A control room provides a bird’s eye view and acts as a combat operations center during the convoys. Commanders are able to view how their Marines operate in an entirely unique way.
The environment can be manipulated with a click of a button, including creating ambushes, riots and improvised explosive device attacks. Supervisors can instantly see how Marines react to different situations, providing feedback they would not have in real-world training exercises.