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Virtual simulator provides alternative shoot, no-shoot training

(Left to Right) Staff Sgt. Scott Stoffel, Tech. Sgt. Michael Dove, and Senior Airman Rafael Walden work through an attack scenario with the 51st Security Forces Squadron’s Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Oct. 4, 2012. The group went through several scenarios on a virtual trainer that allowed them to differentiate between hostile and non hostile forces. Stoffel, Dove and Walden are 51st Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordinance Disposal technicians. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Alexis Siekert)

(Left to Right) Staff Sgt. Scott Stoffel, Tech. Sgt. Michael Dove, and Senior Airman Rafael Walden work through an attack scenario with the 51st Security Forces Squadron’s Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Oct. 4, 2012. The group went through several scenarios on a virtual trainer that allowed them to differentiate between hostile and non hostile forces. Stoffel, Dove and Walden are 51st Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordinance Disposal technicians. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Alexis Siekert)

Staff Sgt. Timothy Dent (sitting) and Staff Sgt. Perry Vitali, 51st Security Forces Squadron Combat Readiness Course instructors, run the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Oct. 4, 2012.  The trainer provides virtual shoot or no-shoot scenarios to help Airmen differentiate between hostile and non-hostile forces in combat situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Alexis Siekert)

Staff Sgt. Timothy Dent (sitting) and Staff Sgt. Perry Vitali, 51st Security Forces Squadron Combat Readiness Course instructors, run the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Oct. 4, 2012. The trainer provides virtual shoot or no-shoot scenarios to help Airmen differentiate between hostile and non-hostile forces in combat situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Alexis Siekert)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The 51st Security Forces Squadron offers a different way to engage in a shoot or no-shoot scenario at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea.

The Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 is a virtual firearms simulator that uses life-like, life-size weapons to practice marksmanship skills and engage in real-world type scenarios. The shoot or no-shoot scenarios allow participants to practive verbal engagement to deescalating a situation, explained Airman 1st Class Stephen Wood, 51st Security Forces Squadron Combat Readiness Course instructor.

"A shoot, no-shoot scenario has the security forces member arrive on scene and lets you decide what level of force is necessary per the use of force regulations," Wood said. "Depending on what actions the suspect in the simulator takes will allow the security forces member to decide whether or not he will shoot. Then the EST operator will go over the scenario and have them justify why that certain level of force was used."

The trainer is an alternative to the actual range and gives a life-like approach to different scenarios such as domestic disputes and hold ups.

"A security forces member is supposed to use verbal judo to get an understanding of the situation and deescalate it," Wood said. "However, the EST 2000 operator can choose to escalate the situation at which time the security forces member needs to respond accordingly."

The trainer incorporates several weapons such as the M-240 machine gun, M-4 rifle and M-9 pistol for virtual training scenarios that allow Airmen to differentiate between hostile and non-hostile forces in a combat situation. It also allows security forces Airmen to satisfy training requirements for use-of-force and alleviates ammunition costs on base, said Staff Sgt. Timothy Dent, 51st SFS CRC instructor.

The trainer is not used exclusively by security forces, however. A group of five 51st Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordinance Disposal technicians worked with the EST 2000 for exposure to situations they may encounter when in the field.

"This lets the guys get out of the shop, blow off some steam, and have some fun," said Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Miller, 51st Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordinance Disposal craftsman, after a training session with the EST 2000. "We're honing in on some skills. It's not very often we get a chance to shoot, and this gives us an excellent opportunity to do some joint training with the security forces team."

Although the virtual range may have different effects than shooting with live ammunition, there is still a learning experience to be had here, he said.

The EST 2000 is a controlled, more comfortable alternative to the actual range, Miller explained. There are loud noises and a bit of recoil with the weapons to add realism.

"There are a lot of advantages to the EST 2000," Wood said. "You do not need any live rounds, so if you are utilizing the system for marksmanship practice, there is no need for loading rounds into magazines, no major safety considerations, no cleanup of brass and no cost for ammunition.

Also, the EST 2000 allows you to get realistic training in handling situations as they develop and escalate or deescalate. Since it simulates real people and real scenarios, it is a huge step up from just shooting at paper targets. It gives it more of a life-like feel, and with the people on the simulator going down when you shoot them it puts things a little more into perspective."

There is still a degree of separation, Wood explained.

"Studies have been shown that it's harder for people to pull the trigger when they are used to firing at a circular white target or green silhouette target as opposed to a life-like target," said Dent. "The moving target makes them better prepared when the time comes."

With advance notice, sessions with the EST 2000 can be scheduled with the security forces combat readiness course team. To make an appointment, call DSN 784-6657.