To prepare for the rigors of combat in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Africa and other conflict zones, the U.S. Special Forces visit the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, for several weeks of hyper-realistic training. Bryan William Jones paid a visit to see the training first-hand.
by BRYAN WILLIAM JONES
The National Training Center at Fort Irwin in California is one of the most sophisticated training environments in the world. It’s designed to give participants opportunities to make mistakes and learn in a seemingly chaotic, but in reality quite controlled, environment. Actual combat is not the place to learn from your mistakes.
To further enhance the reality at NTC, the U.S. soldiers, civilian actors and even vehicles are equipped with Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement Systems to simulate firing, and being struck by, weapons. MILES fits lasers to small arms. Hits are scored by way of a complex set of rules and rankings. A rifle or sidearm, for instance, can’t disable a tank. Conversely, heavier weapon systems can do more damage or cause injury to more people.
The most powerful weapon at NTC is a small blue sidearm called the “god gun,” pictured. This electronic weapon instantaneously “kills” personnel or vehicles and removes them from the fight. It’s used to simulate damage dealt by grenades and Improvised Explosive Devices.
(Photo: Bryan William Jones)