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 Soldiers use virtual reality to practice handling bombs

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Date posted: 07/02/2010

Europe-based soldiers are heading into virtual reality to prepare for real-world encounters with roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Troops are using computerized simulators known as Reconfigurable Vehicle Tactical Trainers to run anti-bomb missions at Grafenw?hr Training Area before they head downrange, said Gregorio Galvan, a virtual training program specialist.

Last month, five soldiers tramped through a snowy parking area at Grafenw?hr and entered a trailer that housed a mock-up of a Humvee surrounded by a virtual desert projected on the walls.

Soon, the soldiers were conducting a virtual mission to track down a group of bomb-laying insurgents. During the mission, an observer controller detonated a roadside bomb disguised as a pile of boxes, throwing a plume of smoke across the screens and rattling the soldiers? Humvee. Then, virtual insurgents in pickup trucks attacked while the soldiers fought back with M4 rifles and a roof-mounted .50-caliber machine gun.

Bruner Caudill, a civilian contractor who trains soldiers using the simulators, said the virtual enemy is being equipped with the latest improvised explosive devices employed in Afghanistan.

?You can make (virtual) IEDs with trash cans, boxes, pickup trucks, cars, buses and people ? just about everything they are using for IEDs over there right now,? he said. ?What we are using right now is a lot of vehicle IEDs. A few units also want suicide bombers.?

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