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Combat identification training: Recognition of Combat Vehicles program.

As of 31 January 2006 in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), the US Army has had 27 fratricides--friendly fire on friendly forces. Twenty-six of those were from direct fire and one from indirect fire (although not artillery indirect fire). Two of those incidents were ground-to-air engagements, and one was an air-to-ground strike--all others were surface-to-surface engagements. Fourteen incidents occurred during daylight hours and 13 at night. These fratricide incidents resulted in 11 US Soldiers killed and 10 other military fatalities. (Countermeasure, Vol 27, March 2006, published by the Army Combat Readiness Center at Fort Rucker, Alabama).

As these statistics verify, combat identification is still an unresolved problem on the modern battlefield, even during stability and support operations.

Combat identification has many considerations--situational awareness and target identification within specified rules of engagement (ROE) are the cornerstones. Individual and collective training are key to enabling Soldiers and leaders to identify friendly and enemy vehicles in multiple situations.

To prevent or reduce the potential for fratricide and simultaneously increase combat effectiveness, the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is implementing a five-tiered training model for combat identification. (See the figure.)

This model provides "trigger pullers" graduated and increasingly robust training to meet combat identification challenges. Regardless of all our advanced technology or the ability of the command and control architecture to provide near perfect situational awareness, once the vehicle commander or individual shooter confirms the target is hostile, the final decision to engage a target by direct fire is the shooter's--the gunner with his finger on the trigger.

Recognition of Combat Vehicles (ROC-V) Program. The training software of choice is the ROC-V and training aids, devices, simulators and simulations (TADSS) with embedded imagery from the ROC-V program. ROC-V is thermal-sight training that runs on any computer with the Windows operating system.

With ROC-V, Soldiers learn to identify the thermal signatures of combat vehicles by using an interactive curriculum that teaches the unique patterns and shapes of vehicle "hot spots" and overall vehicle shapes. ROC-V also gives Soldiers practical experience in using their individual weapon thermal-sensor image controls. Using virtual sight controls, Soldiers learn to adjust their thermal optics to find targets and reveal thermal identification cues.

ROC-V includes training and testing to support the US Army Soldier's Manual Common Task (SMCT) Skill Level I, Visual Vehicle Identification.

The training program includes paper trainer versions for reference without a computer. The instructor control module permits individual and collective training, testing and score tracking. ROC-V is the only training aid available for current joint combat identification marking system (JCIMS) devices.

ROC-V is the standard for ground combat vehicle identification training in the Army and Marine Corps. Users can download ROC-V from the website at

The Army Training Support Center (ATSC) at Fort Eustis, Virginia, is distributing compact discs of ROC-V through the Joint Visual Information Activity, Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania ( These CDs provide the ROC-V training program to Soldiers who cannot access the website.

Future ROC-V Training. Representatives from the four armed services are helping to produce the next generation of ROC-V to meet joint mission area applications. The ROC-V team already has produced a look-down aspect angle version for air-to-ground mission areas, such as fixed-wing close air support (CAS), attack and reconnaissance rotary-wing platforms, and AC-130 gunships. USMC light attack helicopter squadrons currently use this version. This same product improvement has a potential value for tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (TUAV) sensor analysts.

In the future, ROC-V imagery may be embedded in combat vehicle tactical trainers and other TADSS. Efforts also include developing a web-based course that conforms with the shared courseware object reference model (SCORM) that individual services can host.

Leaders must ensure they have a plan to reduce the risk of fratricide. Along with improving situational awareness during operations, the key is tough, realistic combat vehicle identification training before operations. ROC-V meets that training need. The bottom line--ROC-V training saves lives.

MAJ(R) William M. Rierson, FA

Lead Analyst, Ground Combat Division of the Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team (JFIIT) Eglin AFB, FL

COL(R) David A. Ahrens, FA

Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Training, TRADOC, Fort Monroe, VA
Tier Level Type Training

1. Individual Combat Vehicle Identification with ROC-V
2. Individual & Team AGTS, BATS, UCOFT &, CCTT
3. Team & Unit Gunnery, Ranges & NGATS
4. Unit & Collective Force-on-Force Training Exercises with JCIM at
 Home Station and the CTCs
5. Collective & Joint Virtual Mission Rehearsals, Combined Arms
 Rehearsals & Rock Drills

AGTS = Advanced Gunner Training Simulator
BATS = Bradley Advanced Training System
CCTT = Close Combat Tactical Trainer
CTC = Combat Training Center
JCIMS = Joint Combat Identification Marking System
NGATS = New Generation Army Targetry System
ROC-V = Recognition of Combat Vehicles
UCOFT = Unit Conduct of Fire Trainers

Combat Vehicle Identification Tiered Training Model
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Author:Ahrens, David A.
Publication:FA Journal
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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