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SD National Guard virtual convoy gives Airmen a taste of deployment

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mario Volmer, a range operator assigned to the South Dakota Army National Guard Training Center, programs obstacles for Ellsworth Airmen training in the virtual convoy at Camp Rapid, S.D., June 15, 2017. The virtual convoy is a multiple-station simulator that presents real-world convoy scenarios that Soldiers and Airmen may face overseas in contingency operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald C. Knechtel)

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mario Volmer, a range operator assigned to the South Dakota Army National Guard Training Center, programs obstacles for Ellsworth Airmen training in the virtual convoy at Camp Rapid, S.D., June 15, 2017. The virtual convoy is a multiple-station simulator that presents real-world convoy scenarios that Soldiers and Airmen may face overseas in contingency operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald C. Knechtel)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Clint Lykken, the noncommissioned officer in charge of electrical operations assigned to the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., takes hold of the gunner position in the virtual convoy at Camp Rapid, S.D., June 15, 2017. Military personnel who deploy to contingency operations take advantage of the high-tech simulator to hone their convoy skills in a challenging but safe environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald C. Knechtel)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Clint Lykken, the noncommissioned officer in charge of electrical operations assigned to the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., takes hold of the gunner position in the virtual convoy at Camp Rapid, S.D., June 15, 2017. Military personnel who deploy to contingency operations take advantage of the high-tech simulator to hone their convoy skills in a challenging but safe environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald C. Knechtel)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jessica Gluth, an emergency management journeyman assigned to the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., explains the gunner position of a virtual convoy trainer to U.S. Air Force Airmen 1st Class Joshua Torres, a power production journeyman assigned to the 28th CES, at Camp Rapid, S.D., June 15, 2017. The virtual convoy trainer is housed inside a trailer and consists of four Humvee stations, each with a place for a driver and gunner. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald C. Knechtel)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jessica Gluth, an emergency management journeyman assigned to the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., explains the gunner position of a virtual convoy trainer to U.S. Air Force Airmen 1st Class Joshua Torres, a power production journeyman assigned to the 28th CES, at Camp Rapid, S.D., June 15, 2017. The virtual convoy trainer is housed inside a trailer and consists of four Humvee stations, each with a place for a driver and gunner. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald C. Knechtel)

Rapid City, S.D. --

Ellsworth Airmen and members of the South Dakota National Guard trained in the virtual convoy simulator at Camp Rapid as part of the 33rd Annual Golden Coyote training exercise in Rapid City, S.D., June 15, 2017.

The virtual convoy consisted of a team-building, multiple-station simulator, presenting Ellsworth Airmen and SDNG Soldiers with pertinent joint-training opportunities in preparation for overseas contingency operations and homeland defense.

“It’s basically like a game and shows us how it would be out in the desert,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Theadore Richard, electrical power production craftsman assigned to the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron. “It shows you what you need to do, what you need to look for, how to spot certain IEDs [improvised explosive device], what to do if attacked and how you would react within a convoy; it’s good training for a deployment scenario.”

Aside from helping participating Airmen and Soldiers hone their skills, the simulator provides them with a sense for future deployments.

“The simulator gives a general idea of what convoys are like down range,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Troy Ness, the officer in charge of the Training Lanes at Camp Rapid. “This way, the Soldier, or Airman, will have experienced something similar to it and will know what to do in that given situation.”

The virtual convoy trainer is contained within a trailer and consists of four Humvee stations, each with a place for a driver and gunner.

Once the participants begin the simulation, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the simulator controls the conditions of the missions, such as the number of enemy combatants, improvised explosive device placements and convoy routes used. The trainees then communicate over radios to coordinate and react to the situation.

Ness explained that when Soldiers and Airmen train multiple times it becomes muscle memory, so when they faced with a real-world situation they will know exactly what to do.

“We deploy a lot and you never know who you are going to deploy with,” Richard said. “This is great training because you get to go through the convoy scenarios, it shows what you may encounter so with this training you’ll know what to do in those situations.”