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New vehicle Vismods could transform Army training

The kits will be used to replicate enemy vehicles.
Credit: Courtesy photo

BOISE, Idaho — The National Guard Bureau says it has partnered with a Hollywood special effects company to make future training more realistic.

The improvements involve a new visual modification kit that will transform the Army's Humvee into simulated Russian battle tanks and personnel carriers.

These new kits are the first of their kind, said Maj. Aaron Ammerman, XCTC program manager for the NGB.

"Taking a look at how VisMods are done across the Army, I think these are the best I've ever seen," said Ammerman. "They will provide an exponentially more realistic threat signature for troops to train against as they do force-on-force exercises."

In 2018, NGB contracted Westefx in an effort to improve the XCTC program and its 21-day combat training exercises that ready units for mobilization. The company has provided special effects for movies such as "James Bond," "Taken" and "Men in Black II."

Westefx owner and lead designer Erick Brennan said the new VisMods will provide soldiers with realistic identification and engagement training through their effective noise and visual signals.

"No enhanced battlefield training simulators can compare with the functionality, realism, durability and cost-effectiveness of this new VisMod vehicle," said Brennan. "They are pretty amazing and we are really proud of them."

The kits – each weighing approximately 1,700 pounds and fitting over the chassis of a Humvee – resemble the size and silhouette of the tank and personnel carrier but with an inflatable canvas-like frame.

"We will be able to train against a realistic enemy," said Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Doramus, Idaho Army National Guard VisMod fleet manager. "These kits aren't going to look and act like a Humvee. They are going to look and act like T-72s and BTR-90s."

Doramus and a team of Idaho Guardsmen, mostly comprised of engineers and mechanics, helped Westefx install 12 completed kits onto Humvees at the Idaho Army National Guard's Orchard Combat Training Center.