Robins one-of-a-kind virtual training center keeps base reality ready

  • Published
  • By Kisha Foster Johnson
  • Robins Public Affairs

A new and unique virtual training facility at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, is keeping the 78th Security Forces Squadron ready and more lethal during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is nothing else like it and security forces just kicked it off,” said Tech. Sgt. Adriana Arscott, 78th SFS non-commissioned officer-in-charge of training. “We have our virtual reality system in here, but the whole idea of this center is to create a centralized training point to allow different avenues of training for other squadrons and tenant units.”

“This center is an Air Force first,” said Col. Brian Moore, 78th Air Base Wing commander. “It is fully developed in-house by our Mission Support Group and Defenders. It has enabled us to keep up with Defender training proficiency during COVID-19 and has been extremely beneficial since the Air Force sent us increased tech training graduates while deploying 20% more of our Defenders.”

Incorporating this state-of-the-art system for training aligns with some aspects of the Security Forces Enterprise Plan, which Air Force leadership announced in February. 

The plan focuses on four strategic goals: institutionalizing an elite Defender culture, proficiency focused training, modernizing enterprise capabilities, and standardizing requirements.

“Everything we do is about becoming more proficient and being innovative,” said Arscott. “We are the first in the Department of Defense to acquire this SURVIVR virtual reality training system through the Small Business Innovation Research Grant.”

Defenders virtually face real world scenarios like - shoot/don’t shoot, use of force, escalating/deescalating and gate guard procedures.

Also, up to four Airmen can participate simultaneously using simulated weapons in the center.

“The weapons system is an exact replica of the weapons we carry every day. The items weigh and function the same,” said Arscott. “For the M4 carbine, in order to fire the weapon, you’d pull the charging handle back and place the weapon on fire. You must go through the same weapons handling motion in the VR system as you would in real life.”

For Arscott, the best feature of the system is the ability to change scenarios and keep Airmen on their toes.

“They will never be able to walk in here and think they can beat the system or know what to expect,” she said. “I can pick the scenarios, and the interactions can go from mild to Armageddon quickly. But, whatever happens, we have a playback feature where we can review what was done right to what needs to be improved.”

According to Moore, this virtual hub overlaps with the Robins Digital Air Base Wing campaign, which strives to bring more virtual training throughout the installation. This is also in line with the Air Force Materiel Command digital campaign.

“Virtual reality is where the Air Force is growing very quickly, and we are working to be the best and staying mission ready,” he said.