Commando Warrior adds realistic combat training with simunitions
By Senior Master Sgt. Steven Bliss, 736th Security Forces Squadron
/ Published August 04, 2008
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Modernization of security forces training has improved at the Regional Training Center here through use of dye marking cartridges to simulate realism during Ground Combat Skills courses offered by the 736th Security Forces Squadron's Commando Warrior flight.
Commando Warrior is using "simunitions," dye-filled rounds that fit in M4s or 9MM weapons, to train Airmen on team tactics and movement under fire in simulated combat environments.
In the March and June 2008 courses 107 expeditionary Airmen used the simunitions and gave positive feedback on the course, according to Capt. Devin Sproston, Commando Warrior flight commander. And with the completion of Sims Class 08-01 in July, Commando Warrior completed another step toward achieving full operational capability.
Eighteen Defenders, representing security forces at all nine Pacific Air Force installations, completed Sims Class 08-01. According to the captain, the course qualifies students to create programs to meet home station training requirements. He said this will improve PACAF Defenders' readiness to fulfill their wartime mission taskings and defend their installations. An added benefit, this course also teaches Airmen to perform range safety officer duties and will allow full implementation of simunitions at PACAF installations.
Tech. Sgt. Rudy Aguirre helped the course become operational following its move from Osan Air Base, Korea . He said the course is the only one available in the Pacific region identified to meet the safety requirements for this technology.
Tech. Sgt. Robert Dacanay and Staff Sgt. Milton Knight conducted the course . With the help of Staff Sgt. Robert Melgosa, they accounted for the conversion kits for the M4 rifles and 9MM pistols used for the training.
The rounds used for simunitions are similar to those used in paintball, however, paintball weapons cannot fire regular ammunition and regular weapons cannot fire paintballs, said Sergeant Dacanay.
"Conversion kits can be installed quickly and be replaced with the standard bolts, slides or upper receiver returning the weapon to the original capability of firing 9MM or 5.56 MM ammunition," he added.
"The use of conversion kits to allow the detergent-filled cartridges to be fired from standard weapons ensures students developed muscle memory on the weapons they carry daily as Defenders," said Master Sgt. Paul Rodgers, Commando Warrior operations superintendent.
Sergeant Dacanay added that simunitions provide immediate feedback on aiming versus striking the target.
"A shooter can observe where the cartridge strikes the OPFOR to determine the effects of speed and aiming," he said. "The realism created allows students to assess threats to determine order of engagement and initiate their response to threats. The confusion created by noise, explosions and smoke make students think under pressure and increases their chance of surviving actual hostile engagements."
Realism is needed to allow students to understand the complicity of urban warfare.
When compared to older training system, the simunitions provide better realism. While simunitions don't travel as far as standard rounds, the system is more modern then the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System used in the 1980s and 1990s. According to Captain Sproston, MILES was easy to defeat by students but did allow 300 meter engagements simulating threats from greater distances. MILES was hampered by atmospheric conditions such as smoke or fog. He said the dye marking cartridges do not suffer significant changes from these conditions and are better at close quarter's combat training like urban areas.
Staff Sgt. Maurice Wong supervised the training area and ensured safety was balanced with realism.
"Sergeant Wong did a superb job in creating a challenging area on Andersen South for this task evaluation," said Captain Sproston. "He managed up to 14 opposition forces (OPFOR) personnel, two assistant instructors and eight students at a time. The use of smoke grenades, ground burst simulators and loud noises created a distraction-filled environment where students had to consider their surroundings and choose a course of action allowing completion of their assigned mission."
Along with Sergeant Wong, Staff Sgt. Corey Defazio played a critical role in the training scenarios. Sergeant Defazio ensured plenty of OPFOR volunteers were available for the GCS classes.
"The noise, smoke and OPFOR personnel create a high stress environment especially when combined with the heat and humidity here on Guam," said Captain Sproston. He added that Sims Class 08-01 will allow the students to improve the training within their organizations where climate conditions are vastly different.
"My cadre has ensured the students understand the conversion kits, use of safety equipment and can develop scenarios that will improve the tactics employed by their units" he said.
With completion of Sims Class 08-01, PACAF Defenders are ready to meet training objectives and complete their missions in hostile environment.