Afghanistan-focused training for U.S. forces debuts in West Virginia

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Afghanistan-focused training for U.S. forces debuts in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia National Guard is hosting an opening ceremony for an innovative training program and facility Monday, Sept. 19 at 9 a.m. at the Center for National Response in Standard, W.Va. The new training program and facility was designed to prepare U.S. forces to navigate challenging terrain they face daily in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, and others.

The program, which was designed by West Virginia National Guard staff, will provide training for various combat vehicles in conditions similar to the mountains of Afghanistan, including maintenance, advanced mobility, electronics, weapon systems, and driving in challenging terrain. The course can also be altered to mirror other countries in which the United States military could be deployed.

Currently the range is being used for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. The training site was built in a partnership with Tyler-Morgan Coal Company and Pardee Resources Group. The land was part of a modern mining operation that continues today, and is an example of a creative approach to concurrent land use that benefits the nation’s military and the local economy.

“It’s about saving American lives by allowing soldiers to develop their driving skills before they go into combat. West Virginia is the perfect location to provide this real-world training,” said West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General, Major General James A. Hoyer. “This is an excellent example of using our natural assets and the tremendous ingenuity of our people to develop a worldclass training facility. The West Virginia personnel providing the training represent some of the most extensive combat experience in the nation. We are extremely fortunate to have West Virginians with the talent and skill to design, build and operate this course. It will ensure American troops receive the most realistic training possible before they deploy to combat zones around the world.”

“Preparing our service men and women to navigate challenging terrain is critical to the safety of our troops and the completion of combat missions,” said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. “I commend the West Virginia National Guard for working diligently to develop this new training program as well as applying their expertise to the development and management of this facility. The unique attributes of the terrain and landscape will provide troops from across the United States with the practical experience and knowledge to navigate safely through the challenging environment they will encounter during dangerous combat situations. I am extremely proud of the combined efforts of all involved to bring this project to reality.”

The MRAP vehicles currently at the site are designed and built by BAE Systems Inc., based in Arlington, Va. There are many different types of MRAP vehicles but this version is the first of its kind to be built. The multi-million dollar vehicles weigh approximately 50,000 pounds each and will protect military members who encounter IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices).

The impact of the dozens of trainers and trainees living in the area is expected to infuse $9.4 million into the local economy.

Members of the media are welcome to attend Monday’s opening ceremony but the event is not open to the public. Media will be offered the opportunity to take video of the MRAP vehicles in action.

Documents (PDF):
Fact Sheet
MRAP Vehicle Specifications

Photos (click for larger versions):

RAP Vehicles and Training Facility, Gallagher, WV


Release No. 11-18
Sept 13, 2011
WV National Guard
Public Affairs Office