Simulated battlefield training available to Marines

3 Aug 2004 | Lance Cpl. Ruben D. Maestre

From the fire team level to the Marine Expeditionary Force level, units here have the option to utilize live and virtual combat training courtesy of high-tech assistance provided by II MEF exercises and simulations division. 

"We provide commanders a real simulation battlefield to help them accomplish their training objective and goals," said Truman C. Preston, a native of Pasadena, Texas, and the deputy director for the section.  "We can provide virtual, live and constructive training tools down to the fire team level in a simulated battlefield."

The windowless room at the simulation center has the look of a computer lab at any college or university, but instead of writing term papers, the Marines who use these computers learn about different missions and operations. 

"Using our simulations, Marines can train for combat scenarios involving convoy and embassy security operations to non-combatant scenarios involving logistical and humanitarian operations," said Preston, who served as a Marine officer for more than 28 years.  "We have men and women, active duty and civilian, with extensive training and experience in the aviation, logistics and infantry fields who assist in manning the simulations." 

Assistance to the simulations is provided by terminal operators composed of civilians and active duty Marines on temporary assigned duties from a variety of military occupational specialties.  The battlefield simulations manned by the staff have the look and feel of any computer game, but the reality behind the graphics is as serious as any real live field training.

"The simulators have an assortment of weapons we can utilize for training on any level," said Cpl. Jade B. Kleese, a native of Jersey Shore, Pa., and an infantryman temporarily assigned as a terminal operator.  "We can use simulated AK-47s, rocket propelled grenades, satchel charges and even enemy armored vehicles and helicopters in a virtual setting against Marine units training."

In addition to the simulation center, the exercises and simulations division also provides combined arms staff trainer and a live exercise branch to assist in the training needs beyond the company level.  These scenarios provide live and virtual military components that assist higher levels of staff training in potential battlefield environments.

Regardless of whether the training is on a division level or on a squad level, the goal for the training section is to provide their virtual and computerized assets for the best training possible for Marines.

"If a unit wants to train for whatever type of operation, we can set up an exercise and provide the information necessary for any particular scenario," said Preston.  "We can help by focusing on the points that need improvement and we'll offer constructive ideas in achieving those goals."