MOUT Training Complex
- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: MOUT Training Complex
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) training facilities are becoming more widespread across the United States. The simulated city and town environments are almost identical to real-life warzones that have transitioned from the battlefield to the backyard as a new kind of combat unfolds: urban warfare.
At Melrose Range, near Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico, a MOUT training camp is currently taking shape in an effort to prepare Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) soldiers for potential scenarios. When the AFSOC began formulating plans for the training site in spring 2012, it turned to Falcon Containers (Falcon), a Texas-based specialty container fabricator, for the unique structures.
A New Role
Since 2003 Falcon has been modifying and installing portable storage containers throughout Texas and the U.S., from Austin and San Antonio to Florida and even Aruba. However, up until the MOUT training camp, the company never served as a primary contractor on this scale.
“In the past we’ve done site work, but we’ve never bid like a traditional general contractor,” admits Brian Dieringer, cofounder and vice president of sales for Falcon. “Typically we’re modifying containers, doing a cross between manufacturing and construction, so being the lead general contractor for a project of this size was a huge step for us.”
Brian and the team have made great strides over the years. “In the military world we are the prime contractor,” continues Brian. “We’ve had numerous site responsibilities and a crew on location throughout the duration of the $15.6 million project.” Brian admits the biggest challenge for Falcon came early on, gearing up and preparing to tackle one of its largest jobs to-date.
“We’re only a 10-year-old company,” reveals Brian. “Just a few years ago, we finally purchased our own property and we now have a seven-acre fabrication site on a 51-acre property. We went from a job-by-job shop to a large-scale manufacturer in a short period of time. This contract really forced us to expand in order to deliver multiple boxes a day with numerous modifications.”
Falcon also needed to establish relationships with critical subcontractors such as General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT). “Since we weren’t really familiar with the general contractor world, we didn’t have a backlog of subcontractors to go to,” explains Brian. “Luckily, GDIT, the instrumentation subcontractor, was helpful and wanted to work with us.”
Creating a War Zone
Falcon began the construction of 694 units for Cannon Air Force Base in July 2012. “The sheer size of this 200,000-square-foot area was something we’ve never come across,” shares Brian. “The project consisted of a large simulated city with multiple village outposts and remote areas, as well. Everything is spread out and the buildings are comprised of multiple containers, some four-stories high.”
Exceeding Falcon’s typical scope of work, the MOUT camp complex involved unique containers with multilevel interior stairways, doors and rooms. “The goal is to make it as realistic as possible and allow the AFSOC to run their training from air support right down to troops on the ground,” adds Brian. “There’s even a simulated border check-point. All of the movement is communicated back to a control center, which we also remodeled into a classroom.”
From the control center AFSOC can observe and change everything from lighting to sounds and smells. “They can simulate the smell of a bakery right down to burning cars or rotting meat,” details Brian. “The facility is full of role players, both good guys and the enemy. Although everything is monitored in real time, it’s also recorded and can be played back at any time, allowing AFSOC to learn from each scenario.”
Brian notes that Falcon has been making impressive progress so far, but the project hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing. “Our customer closed access to the Melrose Range for two weeks to conduct training exercises,” reveals Brian. “For us that meant stopping the steady flow of delivery trucks and stockpiling about 50 finished containers here at our facility. We had to expand onto the field adjacent to our fabrication area and so far have been lucky not to have any soaking rains that would make the area inaccessible to our forklifts. I guess that’s one upside of being in a drought here in central Texas.”
Brian adds the hot, dry climate at Cannon Base will also prove to be surprisingly beneficial. “With this kind of climate there should be minimal maintenance to the containers and they will serve as a resource for a long time,” he says. “We’re on track for our projected October 2013 completion date, after just finishing phases one through three, which are the biggest steps of the job.”
Brian says he sees more of this type of work in Falcon’s future. “There are training facilities all over the U.S. for this type of warfare,” he explains. “I think one thing we’ve learned from Iraq and Afghanistan is we need these facilities to also train National Guard troops who don’t have the type of experience Marines or other branches of the military do. If they can go in and physically break down a door and clear out threats, that’s the best way to learn and keep our guys safe.” As a result of the MOUT Training Complex, Falcon Containers has transformed, ramping up production and capabilities for future MOUT projects.
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