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Training & Simulation Forum

BLOG: Involve me and I'll understand....

07 Jun 11


Somebody mentioned “Vehicle Egress Training” to me the other day and asked me what nations are doing about training soldiers to exit from armoured or tactical vehicles in an emergency. That started an investigative process characterised by the fact that little information appeared to be available on the subject.

It turns out the situation is a bit like the proverbial curate’s egg – very variable. In the United States, prompted by concerns generated by casualties caused in a number of overturned HMMWV, there has been considerable attention paid to developing egress trainers. In addition, a mandate is now in place that all troops likely to find themselves in a HMMWV or similar vehicle are to undergo a period of vehicle egress training prior to deployment to theatre.

PEO-STRI in Orlando, in a joint effort with PEO Combat Support and Combat Service Support (CS & CSS), engineering assistance from the Research, Development and Engineering Command's (RDECOM) Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and manufacturing capability at Red River Army Depot, rapidly developed and tested the HMMWV Egress Assistance Trainer (HEAT) as a safe egress training system for the US Army. The development came about after an Operational Needs Statement was issued by US Army Forces Command.

A ‘barrel’ training device replicates the interior of the vehicle’s cab and rotates rapidly to provide an emulation of an emergency situation, such as being overturned by an obstacle or the effects of an improvised explosive device. Stopping in various positions, the simulator provides opportunities for occupants to rehearse effective and safe methods of exiting the vehicle quickly – a challenging operation when encumbered with body armour, equipment and weapons. The Army is to procure 53 of the HEAT trainers.

According to informed sources surveyed in a rapid straw poll, the HEAT solution has generated interest among other nations but, other than a rumoured procurement of two very similar systems by the United Kingdom for installation in Afghanistan, nothing concrete has yet emerged.

Is this a case of over-engineering a solution? Some observers felt that the favoured training method would emulate the British Army’s age-old tradition of training issues such as this, involving a class of students, a ‘live vehicle and a non-commissioned officer employing Voice, Human, Loud, Mark I:  “My name is Sergeant Blake, and in the next 60 minutes I will be instructing you in the approved method of exiting the Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle in an emergency situation.”

Do we need relatively complex devices, the costs of which run to approximately $200,000 each, to teach such an apparently simple subject?

The answer is probably yes. As the old Chinese proverb has it, “Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.” And since the ultimate objective is to save lives, such an approach is a cost-effective and laudable method of achieving it. So where is the interest from other nations leading?


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