Published online at GlobalTVEdmonton.com on January 24, 2011.
Linda Hoang, Global News: Monday, January 24, 2011
World class virtual training at Edmonton Garrison
Helicopter soldiers deploying to Afghanistan for the first time are finding themselves faced with familiar territory, thanks to a sophisticated, “world class” computer program.
It’s called Exercise Winged Warrior and it’s one of the most critical training exercises for members of 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron.
The program allows for members to prepare for a number of different scenarios that could arise during an actual mission overseas.
“The amount of replication that is done here of the environment there is incredible,” said Lt.-Col. Brian Derry, Commanding Officer of the Canadian Helicopter Force in Afghanistan. “It allows us to go through contingency operations that without the simulation aspect of it, wouldnt be possible to do it in real life just with the amount of resources and capabilities it would require.”
The virtual reality programs include everything from civilian to air craft projections, high intelligence assets and replication of the squadron’s forces.
It helps ensure members come up with the best procedures for worst case scenarios in Afghanistan and is extremely cost-efficient.
Commanders say the virtual war zone is also very accurate and realistic.
“It hasn’t been seen anywhere else in the world,” said Col. Christian Drouin, 1 Wing Commander. “It’s very much state of the art. We’re still building on it in the future. The aim is to get it even bigger.”
“When you look at the cost and the amount of resources, it’s a lot less than having to replicate this in real life,” Drouin said.
They hope to get it expanded across the country and incorporated in all branches of the Canadian Forces.
The current group of members with 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron will be the last aviation battalion to close out Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.
Canada’s last combat troops in Afghanistan are expected to be back in Canada by the end of July.