Journalists try virtual combat training on Fort Riley

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JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (WIBW) - News agency representatives from the Flint Hills region got the tour of a lifetime.

“To hear all the capabilities and to see the technology, right in our backyard in Fort Riley, is amazing,” said D’Angela McDougald, reporter with Eagle Radio and the JC Post.

The news specialists participated in a windshield tour of the installation, learning about the history of Ft. Riley and current developments.

“I thought it was really informative. I’ve been here for three years, and there’s a lot of things I learned today I never knew happened here at Fort Riley,” said Alix Kunkle, editor of the Junction City Daily Union.

The group tried all of the latest soldier training aids in gaming technology and virtual reality developed to simulate urban warfare, a concept that was new to some of the visitors.

“That was really cool to get to see how they’re not only doing live-fire demonstrations and live-fire training but they’re actually using gaming, which is really big with a lot of young soldiers and they’re integrating that into how they can become more ready for the fight,” said McDougald.

According to the Chief of Training Division Bill Raymann, virtual reality and gaming are not new to the military, but merging the soldiers training in a cyber world with those in the field is a unique function of training at Ft. Riley.

“All the installations are going to have gaming technology and virtual reality. What’s unique about Fort Riley is how we blend these systems together. We’re actually able to have soldiers that are in virtual reality simulators, soldiers that are in gaming, soldiers that are in computer simulations and soldiers that are alive in the field actually training together as if they were all together deployed somewhere around the world,” said Raymann.

“So for the brigade commander, even though some of the soldiers are in the field, some are in virtual reality, some are in gaming--it looks to him like they’re all in the field and all in the fight,” he said.

The visitors spent over an hour in a virtual world shooting rifles and heavy weaponry while driving military vehicles.

“I think I saw eyes get opened a little bit because there are so many little things happening all at once and you have to make some quick decisions and it was pretty interesting to watch people go ‘Oh!’” said Collen McGee, Chief on Internal Information at the Fort Riley Public Affairs Office.