Ma Deuce Range In A Box

Story and photo by Sgt. First Class Peter K. Towse, 42nd Infantry Division

 Staff Sergeant Anthony Burgess (center), a master gunner instructor with Company C, Warrior Training Center, Fort Benning, Ga., instructs Sgt. Peter Hyland, the unit administrator for 1st Detachment, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 27th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, on the new .50 caliber individual gunnery trainer Sept. 15, at the 27th’s Infantry Brigade Combat Team armory in Syracuse.

SYRACUSE - Soldiers can now hone their M2 machine gun skills in the classroom before heading out for the range, thanks to a new training system called Individual Gunnery Training or IGT.

The new system brings the range to the Soldier and is similar to systems that have successfully trained tank and Bradley gunners for their armored vehicles. The IGT is a computer training console with a simulated .50-caliber machine gun mounted on a stand. The gunner has to use a complex, but efficient system of switches and controls to maneuver the weapon, sight in using the head mounted display, and send massive amounts of cyber-rounds down range with precision. 

 The IGT was developed by the Raydon Corporation, and the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, New York Army National Guard, is the first to field this new equipment.

“The system is a lot more advanced than most virtual battlefield trainers,” said Staff Sgt. Anthony Burgess, a master gunner instructor with Charlie company, Warrior Training Center, Fort Benning, Ga. “It is the first of its kind with voice recognition.”

Through a head mounted display and microphone, a Soldier can see 360 degrees of the battlefield while verbally bringing up visual displays, changing to night vision or thermal sight or even stopping the vehicle, to name a few. The computer also takes into consideration the possibility of multiple enemy targets from the side and rear of the vehicle.

“It teaches the Soldier situational awareness since the enemy can come from any direction,” Burgess added. “The Soldier can virtually see everything around him.”

Three interactive programs of instruction are included with the .50-caliber IGT system. The first is the basic .50-caliber for new users to give the Soldier familiarization with the capabilities of the system and second and third being more advanced, taking the Soldier through a matrix progression, designed for sustainment in the Combat Service Support and Heavy Brigade Combat Team gunnery tables.

“The tutorial and hands-on training takes an average of 60-80 hours to complete,” Burgess said. “Once the initial training is complete, sustainment training can be done each time the Soldier uses the system.”

The computer remembers where the Soldier left off and will adjust the tutorials based on the amount of time since the last class in order to keep the Soldier up to date and efficient. Targets moving across the screen can be anything from enemy troops, trucks and armored vehicles to helicopters.

Civilians are also brought into the scenario to help

Soldiers distinguish between enemy targets and civilians in order to make the right decisions while firing.  “All the different situations that a Soldier could be put through during actual live fire gunnery, are replicated on the IGT,” Burgess said. “It queues you up for what you could face on a range or in the real world...this trainer is a gate to live fire.”