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Maneuver Battle Lab: Addition to open in summer of 2012

October 5, 2011

By Vince Little

FORT BENNNING Ga. -- The Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate broke ground on a new Maneuver Battle Lab simulations facility Friday during a ceremony at the construction site, adjacent to Smith Fitness Center on Dixie Road.

Maneuver Center of Excellence officials said the $30 million building is a key block in the consolidation of Fort Benning's Infantry Center Battle Soldier Lab and the Armor Center Mounted Maneuver Battle Lab that relocated here from Fort Knox, Ky., as part of Base Realignment and Closure. It's scheduled to become operational next August.

"This is another milestone event here at the Maneuver Center of Excellence," said CDID director Don Sando. "We've all been working feverishly to put the Maneuver Center on the ground. … Our Maneuver Battle Lab leads the way for our thinking and experimentation as we continue to develop ideas and concepts for the Army."

The simulations facility will be an 88,000-square-foot constructive environment featuring a state-of-the-art, 200-person classroom and multiple large and small simulation bays that can be networked and reconfigured, Maneuver Battle Lab officials said. It also will house all the constructive simulations equipment used for future experimentation.

Maj. Timothy Bruce, a simulations support officer for the Maneuver Battle Lab, said the classroom can be arranged to replicate various-sized tactical operations centers used in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We primarily look at future force structure and future capabilities we're going to use," he said. "All of it dictates our future concepts and will eventually shape Army doctrine."

When complete, the new simulations facility -- combined with the virtual capability next door in Mabry Hall -- will make the Maneuver Battle Lab the Training and Doctrine Command's premier facility for experimentation and play a prominent role in all future Army experiments, Bruce said.

After combining the Armor and Infantry schools at Fort Benning, he said, the MCoE needed a bigger facility to duplicate scenarios involving larger formations as the Maneuver Battle Lab works to deliver innovation and change in reshaping the training, doctrine and requirements for the maneuver force.

Top MCoE initiatives include the "Squad: Foundation of the Decisive Force," 21st-century maneuver training and Brigade Combat Team 2020.

"With this new facility, when we do experimentation, we'll be able to look at multiple organizations," Bruce said. "Simulation is a cost-savings measure, too. … It allows us to look at the future force. We can look at these things within the simulation realm and through experimentation, without the overhead costs involved in having to send Soldiers and units out to the field to do stuff live."

Sando said the experimentation planned at Fort Benning will help shape the structure, organization and brigade combat team modernization efforts for the future Army.

"To do that, we must examine our concepts, training and equipment. Most importantly, we must experiment with new ideas," he told the audience. "There is no finer collection of facilities to support Army experimentation than what we have here at Fort Benning. This new simulations facility will help our Soldiers and Army prepare for the future and train for the future."

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