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Conference makes virtual training a reality

by Tech. Sgt. Larry A. Simmons
Air Force News Agency

11/29/2007 - ORLANDO, Fla. (AFPN) -- The special weapons and tactics team quickly moves through the terrorist camp to the front of a safe house while forces from air and sea take out the rest of the camp. With precise and quick tactics, the team proceeds though the house, takes out the remaining terrorists, secures the hostage, and brings her home safely. 

This time it was only a scenario, but the intense virtual training prepares SWAT and command team members for future real situations. 

This scenario is part of the multinational peacekeeping operation during the U.S. Joint Forces Command Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference currently taking place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. 

"The I/ITSEC gives us an opportunity to bring our needs and show it to the industry," said Gregory Knapp, the Joint Warfighting Center executive director. "(Industry companies) have actually changed the ways they build their technology to meet our needs." 

Officials from several other countries meet with industry consultants to help discuss new technologies for the future warfighter. The joint collaboration will help save the Air Force time, money and lives while fostering stronger ties with other military forces. 

The Swedish armed forces enjoy working with the U.S., said Swedish Lt. Col. Ulf Jinnestrend, the Swedish armed forces operations directorate director of staff.  "If we can just gain a little bit of training and give some back, we are happy." 

Having several different countries working together, the conference's theme of providing joint capabilities today while shaping tomorrow's joint force became a reality. 

"We are looking for training solutions to prepare for anything that affects the country," Mr. Knapp said. "We can show our industry partners and services where our war fighter needs are." 

On the other side of the convention center, a virtual joint close-air-support mission shows the capabilities of the joint terminal attack controller training rehearsal simulator. 

With this simulator system, JTACS can simulate the most hostile environments, including improvised explosive device attacks and stacking aircraft while calling in close-air support. This system also attaches aircraft simulators allowing pilots to train on receiving and executing these instructions. 

"This is the next evolution of simulators and it is going to make better JTACs," said Staff Sgt. Dennis Krouse, a JTAC stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. "It gives us a realistic training environment allowing young guys to train and also improves the experienced guys. It's as close to real as it gets without having to step in harm's way."  

Rarely do these situations happen outside of combat, with reductions in live-training resources, range and munitions boundaries, personnel availability and geographic limitations. 

This training is not only helpful for Airmen. JTACs deploy with Soldiers and constantly work together in tense battle situations. Soldiers come to train and streamline all logistics here, so when in real situations everything can run smoothly between units and services. 

This is extremely valuable in the field when seconds count. 

"We speak two languages with different terminology," Sergeant Krouse said. "This training allows them to become familiar with Air Force procedures and terms. They can understand us when we are in real, live situations." 

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