by: Mike High [ ]
The National Training Center (NTC), Fort Irwin, California's Vision Statement: "NTC trains the transformed Army by conducting force-on-force and live-fire training for ground and aviation brigades in a joint scenario across the spectrum of conflict, using a live-virtual-constructive training model, as portrayed by a highly lethal and capable Opposing Force and controlled by an expert and experienced Operations Group. The brigade and its joint partners use the full complement of its combat, combat support and combat service support systems in an expanded NTC maneuver area that has multiple urban operations sites and portrays the complexity and human dimension of the modern battlefield."
This In Detail Special No. 7 ably chronicles the personnel and equipment of the National Training Center.
Robert Burik, the author, presents the reader with 104 pages of well written text and very clear pictures covering a multitude of the aspects of the NTC. This book is soft cover and measures 9.5 x 11.5 inches (24 x 29 cm).
The book is broken down into 7 sections: the Introduction, Cold War Transition, The Box, The OPFOR, Roleplayers, Hooah! (BLUFOR), and Painted Rock.
Robert briefly discusses the role of the NTC. He indicates that, "This book will concentrate on the current mission of the NTC, to 'Train the force' to fight in the ever changing environment of the War on Terror.
He discusses the NTC's transition from a "tank battle" methodology to training that focus' on current world and post-9/11 doctrine, the training area (known as "The Box"), the Opposing Forces (OPFOR), the "role-players" (civilians on the battlefield - players that act as "good" towns folk and others as insurgents), the Blue Forces (BLUFOR) - the units that are there to train, and a conclusion that highlights the NTC's famous "Painted Rocks."
Each of the chapters are profusely illustrated with color photographs. There are several photographs of the Observer Controller (OC) HMMWVs and the infamous Universal Controller Device, or "God Gun". The OC had the ability, utilizing this device, to disable or kill a vehicle, role-player, soldier, or building through the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES).
Highlights are certainly the Visual Modification (VISMOD) vehicles. These include HMMWVs made to appear as BRDMs, the older Sheridan's outfitted as T-80s and M113-based BMP1 VISMODs, the new OPFOR Surrogate Vehicles (OSV) - M113A3 based VISMODs with modified Bradley turrets depicting T-80s and BMPs. There are additional photographs of the SA-6 "Gainful" and SA-8 "Gecko" anti-aircraft systems; VISMODs built upon the M1097 Cargo Carrier.
There are multiple photographs of the Abrams, HMMWVs, the Buffalo, Strykers, M113- and HEMTT-series vehicles along with a variety of trailers, FMVTs, and other vehicles. There are plenty of interior shots of an assortment of the vehicles too.
Several pages have been dedicated to the NTCs villages used by the role-players and of the role-players themselves.
For the modeler, the MILES system is quite visible in a large number of the photographs; the receivers, "kill" lights, and harnesses. The plethora of VISMOD vehicles should delight the kit basher/scratch builder.
ConclusionThe visual impact one has from the first page to the last is excellent; there are hundreds of photographs to entice the reader. The breadth of content about the National Training Center is exceptional. This book would certainly be a worthy addition to the reference library, especially for those that are interested in modeling some of the vehicles used at the NTC and for those that have "been there, done that;" the trip down memory-lane is worthwhile.