Training is underway for the 3,500 Iowa soldiers who are expected to deploy to Afghanistan in the fall. The Iowa National Guard alert involves the 2nd Brigade Combat Team that will train the Afghan Army and police.
Premobilization instructor Sergeant Luke Kreier has been working with soldiers at Camp Dodge in Johnston with an army vehicle simulator.
The Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer – or HEAT simulator – is designed to teach soldiers how to get out of a Humvee Army vehicle in the event of a rollover.
Most American casualties in Afghanistan are from Improvised Explosive Devices or I-E-D’s that’re placed along the roadway and detonated when military vehicles pass by. So, the training at Camp Dodge could help save lives. The HEAT simulator is made from the cabin of a Humvee, which can rotate 360 degrees.
Sergeant Kreier says when the vehicle is on its top, it’s difficult for a soldier to get out – mainly because their equipment can become tangled in the seat belt. “They’re wearing their vests, helmets and eye protection…they release their seat belts, help each other out and help the gunner down. They yell ‘door’ so they all know there is a place they need to get to if they’re having problems on their side,” Kreier explained.
The HEAT simulator at Camp Dodge is the only one in Iowa, but two more are expected soon to accommodate the troop buildup. Since 9/11, the Iowa National Guard has transitioned from a reserve force to an operational force. Major Mike Wunn, a spokesperson for the Iowa National Guard, says that’s a big difference for soldiers.
“Their training requirements change and the equipment that they have changes. So, Camp Dodge has tried to change along with those requirements to support those soldiers when they get ready to deploy,” Wunn said. The3,500 troops in training now represent the largest single activation for the Iowa Guard since World War II.