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Practice makes perfect: Defenders use new virtual simulator to enhance skills

Sheppard AFB

Senior Airman John Long, 82nd Security Forces Squadron entry controller, watches for movement during a deployed environment simulation at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 5, 2018. Long is using the MILO simulator, which allows defenders to react to real life scenarios in the safety of the training facility.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Robert L. McIlrath)

Sheppard AFB

Airman 1st Class Taylor Francis, 82nd Security Forces Squadron entry controller, motion and yells stop to a driver attempting to run the gate before she deploys the barrio to prevent base access at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 5, 2018. Francis is using the MILO simulator, which allows defenders to react to real life scenarios in the safety of the training facility.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Robert L. McIlrath)

Sheppard AFB

Senior Airman John Long and Airman 1st Class Taylor Francis, 82nd Security Forces Squadron entry controllers, watch for movement during a deployed environment simulation at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 5, 2018. Long and Francis are using the MILO simulator, which allows defenders to react to real life scenarios in the safety of the training facility.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Robert L. McIlrath)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- A phrase often heard throughout the military is “train the way you fight,” and while not always possible for every situation, for the 82nd Security Forces Squadron, it’s virtually possible. 

 

Sheppard Air Force Base was one of the first installations to incorporate the new 300 degree radius MILO training simulator to allow defenders to react to real life scenarios they might encounter in the field, but in a controlled environment.

 

The simulator surrounds the defenders in 300 degrees of virtual reality and allows them to use multiple weapons like they would use on duty.

 

“It’s a safer alternative for on-the-job training,” said Officer Georgia McCullough, 82nd SFS unit trainer. “So instead of patrol officers going out there and learning how to actually affect a high-risk traffic stop on the street, they get to do it from the safety of this room.”

 

Duty weapons are converted to use Carbon Dioxide gas to simulate a gunshot and infra-red lasers are used to determine exactly where the gun is pointed when the trigger is pulled, showing a hit or miss using on-screen targets.

 

“We aren’t expending any ammunition, so it doesn’t cost the Air Force as much money and it’s the tool that they will use every day,” McCullough said. “So they get proficient in holding, aiming, and overall feel of the weapon. Also every success they make in here, the more confident they are out there.”

Anything that would be normally trained on by Sheppard’s defenders can be used with the MILO.

“We want them to feel the stressors of this training,” McCullough said. “It actually incorporates K9 handlers, verbal controls and a range of anyone performing those duties.”

The MILO simulator allows scenarios to be filmed on base and uploaded to enhance the realness for the users.

“We are the first installation to have a barrier incorporated into our simulator,” McCullough said. “For our entry controllers, they aren’t just making use of force decisions, they get that practice of actually pressing the red button and popping the barrier.”

McCullough said training mistakes made in real life could potentially cost lives, but using the simulator allows them to identify crucial mistakes and do as much remedial training to correct it as needed.

“It helps prepare you for your job,” said Airman Xavier Hodges, 82nd SFS entry controller. “I don’t think there is any training out there to help prepare you like this does.”

In a split-second, a decision could be made that results in life or death. This simulator allows Airman to asses high-stress situations.

“It’s better for us because we get to practice inside instead of just learning as you go out in the real world.” Said Airman 1st Class Taylor Francis, 82nd SFS entry controller. “That would be pretty scary.”

Sheppard’s defenders are adapting, training and becoming proficient to encounter any threat.

Installation Security depends on all base personnel. If you see something suspicious, report it to the Sheppard law enforcement desk at 940-676-2981 or Eagle Eyes at 940-676-1852.

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