The U.S. Army has deployed 30 computer simulators at Fort Carson, Colorado, each of which recreate the experience of driving M-1 tanks and M-2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles.
While costly at about $50 million, the simulators are expected to save both money and lives in the long run. According to an Associated Press report, training on a real M-1 Abrams tank costs about $181 per mile traveled, an expense that has forced the military branch to limit its “live-fire training.” However, the simulators eliminate the need for such expenses, and also allow for other conveniences, such as the ability to stop and replay the action in order to illustrate mistakes.
“Nothing beats going downrange, but this is as close as it gets,” commented retired soldier Jim Kwasniewski, who now oversees the simulator program for the Army. According to the AP report, the simulators were packed into real Abrams and Bradley interiors, allowing just over 100 soldiers can participate in war games in a realistic fashion.
“The only thing they don't have is the smell,” added Kwasniewski.
One participant, Pfc. Lance Anderson, was noted as commenting that the biggest advantage offered by the simulators is that they help vehicle crews learn to work as a team while engaged in stressful battlefield situations. It is expected that this level of learned cooperation will translate directly to the real world, and thus help save lives by helping crews to work together while on missions in Iraq.