NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — Advanced simulation technology such as laser “weapons” add realism to training exercises, but there may be too few of them floating around the Navy.
Capt. Winton Smith, the commanding officer of Naval Base San Diego, saw the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System incorporated into the Citadel Protect training exercise for the first time on Aug. 28 and 29.
“I’m very excited about it,” Smith said. “I’d love to see this region equipped with it.”
Smith suggested that the large number of military installations in the area could benefit from the system, which uses laser “bullets” and trainee-worn receivers to track shots fired and assess accuracy. He envisioned a future where the expensive MILES gear could even be rotated among service members in the area and adapted for different training exercises.
The laser technology was coupled with blanks fired during the exercise, and Smith called the scenario — a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device exploding at a pier, coupled with a lone gunman wreaking havoc — a way to acclimate the senses and stress trainees.
“These are the things we need to expose the watch standers to,” he said. The goal of the exercise was to create a “seamless defense,” eliminating any potential gaps in security or response coverage between ships and shore.
Smith said that, whether or not sequestration takes effect in the coming months, it was unlikely the Navy would receive all of the funding it would like to conduct training.
It’s going to get tighter and tighter,” Smith said of budgets for training and simulation.
However, exercises such as Citadel Protect enable multiple groups to train, including those aboard ships, on the base, and in police and federal firefighting units. Parts of the exercise included responding to the IED, neutralizing the shooter and securing the area, and providing medical evaluation and treatment for wounded individuals.