Training Range Safety
TRADOC Capability Manager, Ranges
Fort Eustis, Virginia
One of the biggest challenges military units face is the ability to train as they fight — firing all weapon types and engaging targets much like they do in combat. Too often I hear, “We did this in combat, so why can’t we do it at my installation.” During peacetime live-fire exercises, however, the Army standard is to have rounds contained to one in 1 million on training ranges while maintaining a safe environment. That sometimes hampers the way units want to train.
Firing weapons on training ranges requires detailed planning and coordination on both the using unit and the installation range operations team. Much of the planning focuses on developing surface danger zones (SDZ), which allow for the safe integration of fires with various weapon platforms from simple zero-type ranges to complex combined arms live-fire exercise (CALFEX)-type ranges. It helps if units have a better understanding of the procedures required for safe training.
So how does the Army do this? Well, TRADOC Capabilities Manager (TCM) Ranges provides both distance learning (DL) and resident courses designed for active-duty service members and civilians to learn the procedures for safe training. The DL courses offer a self-paced learning environment that can be located on the SRP website at https://srp2.army.mil/training/_layouts/15/student/studenttrainingmain.aspx. Resident courses are held on Army and Marine Corps installations worldwide.
One of the best courses service members can take is the Range Safety Course (Basic), which is a five-hour DL program. This course provides a lot of information that can reduce mishaps on live-fire ranges and is designed and focused on officer in charge and range safety officer duties. You may be wondering if you can take this course, and the answer is yes! In fact, here’s a list of folks who should take it: range managers, range operations staff, safety managers, master gunners, unit-level trainers and anyone unfamiliar with the tools used to support range safety. Below are some of the other available courses and a brief outline of what to expect if you choose to attend.
The Inter-Service Range Safety Course (Intermediate) is a one-week, hands-on program offered to train Army, Marine Corps and other safety and range professionals in the policy and techniques required by Army Regulation (AR) 385-63, Range Safety, for firing current and future weapons, and to ensure safe and efficient range operations in support of the commander’s mission. This five-day resident course is designed to prepare range operations personnel, range officers and range safety professionals for the implementation of range policies and the minimum safety standards for SDZs in a live-fire range environment as set forth in AR 385-63; Marine Corps Order (MCO) 3570.1C, Range Safety; and Department of the Army Pamphlet (DA Pam) 385-63, Range Safety. It will increase understanding of the standards and procedures for the safe firing of ammunition, demolitions, lasers, guided missiles and rockets. All materials are provided.
The Range Managers Toolkit (RMTK) is a multi-service suite of desktop tools designed to meet the needs of range managers throughout the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy by automating range operations, safety and modernization processes. Tools may be used individually or in conjunction, depending on the task. Tool outputs are in accordance with applicable policy documents. The RMTK training course introduces students to the concepts of geographic information systems (GIS) and the RMTK suite of tools. Lessons focus on how GIS and RMTK can be integrated into range operations to help with daily tasks to ensure safe and efficient training in support of the commander’s mission. The four-day resident course covers fundamental GIS and RMTK concepts through lecture, instructor demonstrations, hands-on exercises and performance tests. The following individual courses are available within RMTK and outlined below.
- The RMTK Surface Danger Zone Tool generates SDZs in accordance with parameters in DA Pam 385-63. The SDZ Tool enables range operations to ensure live-fire training activities are conducted in a safe manner.
- The RMTK Explosive Training Range (ETR) Tool generates the danger zone associated with explosives training in accordance with parameters defined in DA Pam 385-64. The ETR Tool includes modules for explosives training using bare charges, direction/breaching and dynamic breaching scenarios.
- The RMTK On-Range Ammunition Handling (ORAH) Tool evaluates the explosive potential of ammunition temporarily stored on ranges during training events in accordance with parameters in DA Pam 385-64. The ORAH Tool generates explosive safety arcs depicting required standoff distances for personnel, buildings and public transportation routes and also warns users in cases of incompatible storage scenarios.
- The RMTK Noise Tool models the probability of receiving noise complaints for a given training scenario based on impulsive noise guidelines developed by the U.S. Army Public Health Center and includes modules for ground-to-ground, air-to-ground and aircraft noise.
- The RMTK Weapon Danger Zone (WDZ) Tool generates WDZs for air-to-ground-delivered ordinance used on operational training. The WDZs are based on aircraft, weapon, release envelope (airspeed, altitude, dive angle, run-in heading), target material and soil type. The WDZ Tool supports rotary-wing, fixed-wing, tilt-wing and unmanned aerial system (UAS) operations. The WDZ Tool training course focuses on the creation of basic WDZs given standard dive bomb and aviation gunnery parameters for fixed-wing, rotary-wing and UAS aircraft that are commonly used on DoD training ranges. Additional functionality of the RMTK WDZ Tool that is covered during the course includes the creation of composite WDZs, the use of precision-guided munitions and the creation of areas of critical concern for risk evaluation and mitigation. The one-day resident course includes lectures, instructor demonstrations, hands-on exercises and performance tests.
- The RMTK Laser Range Management Tool (LRMT) automates the process of certifying military ranges for safe laser operations and supports planning and conducting laser operations on certified ranges in accordance with MIL-HDBK-828C. The RMTK LRMT supports both airborne and ground-based laser platforms. The LRMT training course focuses on the creation of basic Laser Surface Danger Zones (LSDZ) given standard ground and aviation gunnery parameters for lasing from static and moving positions to ground targets on DoD training ranges. Additional functionality of the RMTK LRMT covered during the course includes the creation of composite and batch LSDZs and using the tool for risk analysis. The two-day resident course includes lectures, instructor demonstrations, hands-on exercises and performance tests.
In conclusion, all of these courses will assist installation range management authorities, master gunners and commanders with range planning to ensure training is safe and as realistic as possible. These tools are free to download from the SRP website. The SRP program also will supply an ArcGIS license, which is required to operate the tools. When units are fully operational and proficient with these tools, they will develop a much better understanding for planning and safe operations on live-fire ranges.