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Old 03-04-2007, 06:57 PM
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Airsoft in force-on-force training: River Rats

Hi everyone,

I am with a Chicago-area airsoft group called the River Rats. We’ve had the good fortune of being involved in airsoft-based training events with the Illinois National Guard and some of our efforts are featured in the current (March) issue of Airsoft International magazine. I am putting up a copy of the article here in an effort to raise awareness of airsoft as an effective platform for force-on-force training. I know a lot of military and law enforcement personnel are fans of airsoft and maybe this article is something that their units/departments can benefit from.

Here’s the piece:





Here’s the text, in case it’s too small to read:

Quote:
In 2004, the River Rats were contacted by Captain (now Major) James Kondrat, an officer in a local National Guard unit and fellow airsoft enthusiast. His unit was being deployed to Iraq and they were looking to maximize any and all training opportunities while still stateside. Captain Kondrat had come up with the idea of utilizing airsoft as a base for realistic force-on-force training and wanted to tap into the River Rats as a ready source of volunteers who were familiar with fire-and-maneuver tactics.

The training we took part in with the 123rd was “live-fire” MOUT training conducted over three weekends in Milan, Illinois. Volunteers from our group were tasked as OPFOR (under the direction of the 123rd’s Observer/Controllers) in a variety of evolutions including room clearing, react to ambush, and vehicle convoy scenarios. The weapon systems we used were 100% airsoft based (stock Tokyo Marui aegs, to be exact).

Training days were exhaustive, beginning at 5:30 am and lasting well into the night. Each day, nearly 400 artillery soldiers moved through various practical evolutions (using real-steel, issued weapons) which culminated in live-fire exercises against OPFOR (using airsoft weapons). As the “enemy”, our job was to provide challenging resistance, which took all the cunning, skill, and aggression we could muster! We resorted to setting booby traps, detonating i.e.d.s (in the form of home made airsoft “claymores”), setting up ambushes and using decoys. The pace of the training meant we were “fighting” for approximately eleven continuous hours a day with short, five-to-ten minute breaks between evolutions to reload. Despite the thrill of being the “bad guys” in these exercises, no one forgot the seriousness of our purpose in the training scheme and that the future of our soldiers’ well-being was potentially at stake.

Every training day ended with a debriefing going over aspects of training that proved effective or needed to be changed or eliminated. The general consensus by all O/Cs and instructors was that airsoft is a very effective training platform; airsoft weapons have realistic rates of fire, are inherently safe (incapable of chambering live rounds), and the limited velocity projectiles provide very realistic stimulus response (in other words, the pellets sting, which adds imperative to the various training scenarios.) It was also remarked that airsoft is considerably less expensive than many other training solutions currently available.

Here is a letter from Major Kondrat detailing the River Rats’ participation in the training events:

“During the 2004 training year, the River Rats assisted my former BN, 2-123FA, in preparing for deployment to OIF by providing intense and realistic training in CQB tactics using airsoft weapons. Over the course of 3 weekend sessions, nearly 400 artillery soldiers were able to test the tactics taught to them with the stress of OPFOR that shot back. The River Rat's conduct was professional, enthusiastic, and always executed with safety in mind. Over 75,000 airsoft rounds were expended with zero injuries resulting. Through their assistance in training the 2-123d Field Artillery, the River Rats undoubtedly saved lives during the BN's deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

V/R
JAMES W. KONDRAT
MAJ, FA ILARNG
SQDRN XO, 2-106 Cavalry Squadron (RSTA)
Kewanee, ILLINOIS”

On a personal note, I would like to add that the most humbling aspect of the entire experience came after the training. It was deeply moving to receive thanks for our participation from the men of the 123rd, who were about to go off to war. The truth is, we were (and continue to be) the grateful ones- both for their service to us, the citizens of the United States, and for having been admitted into the company of such men.

Today, the River Rats continue to volunteer to area police and military units as OPFOR in airsoft based training exercises. We are hoping to build awareness in the military and law enforcement communities for the benefits of airsoft as a training aid. As far as we have been able to tell, we are the first (and only) airsoft group in existence to have engaged in training exercises with the military.
Here are a few more photos that didn’t make the edit. I’m including them because I think they illustrate the diversity of training evolutions made possible through the use of airsoft:









Email me at ratcom@riverratsairsoft.com if you want more information, or better yet, if you happen to be in LE or the military, print out the articles and show them to your training officer(s)! It might be a springboard for some good airsoft-based training of your own.

Anyway, thank you very much for allowing me to post.

Respectfully,
FFF
Elgin City River Rats airsoft group
www.riverratsairsoft.com
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Old 03-04-2007, 07:14 PM
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VasilitheSniper VasilitheSniper is offline
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Good artical, this is the kind of PR the sport needs. All these bleeding hearts, crusading soccer moms, etc. want to ruin the sport by say it has no puripus just lost some ground.
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Old 03-04-2007, 07:29 PM
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FFF,

Great job guys. It is always good to hear that some teams are helping the real men out there.
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Old 03-04-2007, 09:09 PM
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Great job with the op. You showed people the good the sport of airsoft can accomplish.
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Old 03-05-2007, 01:45 AM
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wow, that must have been great helping them test there skills and inproving your own cant think of anything better
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Old 03-06-2007, 01:39 AM
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Thanks for the great feedback, guys. Much appreciated.
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Old 03-06-2007, 06:20 AM
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Once I find some local armories willing to do the same as what TripleF's team I'll need advice from him. This example is the best way to show how airsoft is a ligit sport just like American Football,Rugby,Baseball,Basketball,and Football are as well as paintball. The only reason why airsoft is seen in the light it is now is because of the things you see criminals,stupid kids,and dumb videos on google and youtube. If more of us around the country can get police and the military to train with airsoft and airsoft teams things WILL change.
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"whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender"

Sir Winston Churchill 1940
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Old 03-06-2007, 11:33 AM
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This is a not a sport. We do not play a sport. We have a hobby.
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Old 03-06-2007, 01:09 PM
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When your hobby take more time than your actual day job or take all your spare time, this is more than a hobby
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Awesome videos;
http://www.youtube.com/teamstrikersairsoft
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Old 03-06-2007, 01:12 PM
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You are correct. For me it has become an obsession, but, still that does not make it a sport
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