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The naked city: the Swiss Army's new Mount training facility in Walendstadt was inaugurated in the early morning hours of 20 September 2006 by the sound of gunfire and flash/bang pyrotechnics echoing off the sheer valley walls.

Until recently Switzerland has been training its infantry units in what were known as 'Infantry Training Centres', with training for warfighting closely matching that of Cold War-type threats. In 2003 the Swiss military began a programme called Simug (Simulationsunterstutzung for Gefechtstibungen = simulation support for battle practices), which was an open terrain, force-on-force training system developed by Ruag Electronics and C.O.E.L. (now Ruag Coel), which includes the Codarts battle simulation system driven and controlled by a scalable exercise control unit.

This has been condensed into an interactive open terrain/Mout training facility nestled in a deep valley; one that gives visitors somewhat of an eerie feeling--at least until the shooting starts.

Soldiers, weapons, vehicles and buildings are all fitted with sensors that provide a near-real life battle reactions (choking dust, pain, fear and confusion are reserved for real battle), and give the teams a chance to practice their urban combat training skills with interactive responses from the buildings and occupants.

The Mout facility that Ruag and Coel have developed at Walenstadt can, at present, handle a red and blue-force training experience but after completion will accommodate up to eight teams at once. The facility is expected to be running at full speed by early 2007 with over 100 centre operations staff members, 44 Ruag support personnel and around 70 military members managing the logistics.

Very Sensitive

Since GPS signals are not as effective in the Mout environment as on the open terrain, the array of sensors in and around the buildings is both impressive and effective--enough to provide to the Exercise Control (Excon) centre the information of an individual's location in a room with an accuracy of 30 cm.

Universal Detector Units attached to the buildings receive a multitude of direct-fire signals, from Miles, Cosim, Osag, React and other simulation systems, to register a building 'hit', send the signal to the building's computer system and then provide immediate engagement effects to the soldiers (see lead photo).

The in-building effects translate to where a soldier in a room, adjoining one that was just destroyed by an RPG or a tank round, will receive an 'injured' signal commensurate with his/her proximity to the wall (of the killed room) or location within the adjoining room. The same is true of a vehicle receiving a weapon kill (turret damaged) or a mobility kill (tracks/wheels/powerplant); where soldiers are 'wounded' by in-vehicle sensors, or total kill; where the vehicle and all occupants receive kill signals.

The rooms, or specific elements, may be set to provide certain danger signals to the trainees; for example, if a room is on fire a light will provide a danger signal. If a trainee chooses to ignore the signal and chance a << Rambo-type >> run through the burning debris, a sensor will transmit a laser-based kill code to the soldier's sensor array (which contains nine hit zones) and let him (or her) and Excon know that Rambo will not be available for the rest of the exercise.

Data collected from the myriad video cameras and sensor arrays throughout the 'city' is stored in standard PC database arrays for archiving and providing after-action reviews--when the video, sensor effects and force tracking data can be played back, edited, saved and copied onto DVD for replay at the military unit's headquarters.

The Walenstadt Mout training facility is considered a model for future Swiss (and other countries who have voiced interest) training systems. Total reconfiguration and customisation is the key to this modular setup, which allows the Swiss commanders a chance to give their soldiers an improved fighting edge.
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Title Annotation:What's Up?
Author:Keggler, Johnny
Publication:Armada International
Date:Dec 1, 2006
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