BOISE A new training tool at Gowen Field is giving Idaho soldiers an advantage as they head for war.
One thing we practice in the Army especially, is train how you fight, said Staff Sergeant Robert Caron, a soldier with the Idaho Army National Guard.
On a rainy day in Boise, Caron and the rest of the 1st Battalion 204th Regiment (Armor) got into one of Gowen s Humvee rollover simulators.
It s not a pretty scenario, Caron said of rollovers. It s definitely something that you want to avoid at all costs.
Anyone who s been in a rollover crash knows firsthand that it s a scary situation, and can often be life-threatening.
But being in a Humvee when it rolls during combat is especially dangerous.
These up-armored vehicles have a pretty high tendency of rolling over, sharp turns, or if you do encounter a blast a lot of times the vehicle will just tip over due to the nature of the blast, Caron said.
In the rollover simulator gravity took over, leaving Caron and the rest of the soldiers suspended upside down.
Their mission now is to find a way out.
As soon as you unsecure your harness, as you found out, the tendency is just to fall to the floor, Caron said. You can do some pretty severe damage to your head and your neck in that situation, so it s definitely something you need to train for.
The Department of Defense reports that in 2006, 116 soldiers were killed in Iraq in Humvee rollover accidents. Since then, with the help of the simulators, fatalities have declined.
The Humvee rollover simulators at Gowen Field are actual wartime vehicles that have been modified. The wheels and other moving parts have been removed, and the Humvee sits elevated on a platform wide enough to be flipped upside down by controls.
As the machine rolls, the soldiers must execute a plan.
Soldiers shout rollover, rollover, rollover alerting the crew inside the Humvee that they are about to flip, preparing the soldiers for a real combat crash.
Every soldier around the nation is required to have annual Humvee rollover training, but what sets Gowen Field apart from other bases is what sits just yards away from the simulators.
Later in the day, Caron and the rest of the unit move their training nearby to where several mobile trailers sit with a different type of Humvee simulation.
It is called the Reconfigurable Vehicle Tactical Trainer (RVTT).
Army Captain Barrett Bishop monitors the soldiers on closed circuit television as they patrol the streets of Jalalabad in four mock Humvees.
This Humvee driving simulation, from the buildings, to the streets, even to the mountain landscape is mapped through Google and it s very realistic. The soldiers see the mock terrain with six large screens for a video game type scenario play.
The $15 million RVTT has been at Gowen Field for about a year according to Sergeant David Stapleton.
In my opinion, Idaho leads the way in trying to provide better assets and better training for our soldiers, he said.
In coming months, the Idaho Army National Guard will get even more simulators and they will have the ability to all connect all on a network, Stapleton said.
Stapleton said simulators are the new modified way to train soldiers.
We will continue to have that stuff as we move forward here in Idaho, he said. We are going to continue to grow.