Rebuilding the Third Brigade-Virtual Training

The first step to preparing soldiers for the battlefield is simulated exercises.  Commanders want to know how soldiers will react in certain situations without placing them in any danger.

We takes an in-depth look into one of the army's most successful training tools.

They look more like plastic containers than a training tool. But inside is one of the army's secret weapons.

Soldiers are able to climb into an exact replica of what they use on the battlefield. Whether it's the Bradley

fighting vehicle or Abrams tank. This is Crusader Company's day in the simulator... two tank platoons and one mechanized infantry platoon.

"We've been talking through what we're going to do for the past couple of days but this is the first time I've ever really gotten to get into the simulator," said Lt. Jon Doiron, 1st Platoon Commander.

"Roger, moving time now."

Looks more like a video game, but commanders can track each vehicle on the tv screens as well as a map. The blue triangles are Crusader Company's tanks and Bradleys. Information is radioed to vehicles just as if they are in a real situation. It may look hectic but that's by design.

"I'm trying to overwhelm them here so when they get to the field, they've experienced it before and they get into good habits," said Major Charles Reed, Brigade Fire Support Officer.

But good habits sometimes take a while. Captain Matthew Garner, says each tank or Bradley commander hears two different channels inside his helmet.

He then has to disperse that information to the vehicles he commands.

"It took me probably a good two and a half to get used to hearing both nets. You can turn off one of them but I try to train these guys, you need to be listening to both nets," said Capt. Matthew Garner, Company Commander.

And if you have to make mistakes this is the place to do it. Remember, no one gets hurt or killed in simulator training. But for Lieutenant Doiron who's never deployed to Iraq, didn't fair too well.

"We got a mobility and turret kill so we couldn't move or do anything really by the end of it, but it's all a learning experience," said Doiron.

"We've got a whole lot of new people that don't have all the experience that a lot of our guys that just returned from O-I-F three have and it's just getting every one on the same sheet of music," said Garner.

Even with a few slip ups and mis-communications, Crusader Company performed the best of any company so far.

And remember, we'll be following these soldiers through the whole month of training.  Next, it really get serious, first platoon and crusader company experience live fire training.

And News Leader Nine's, Jon Kalahar will be right there with them to file his next report.