Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System. Really, at the individual level, the limitations (such as not being able to penetrate even the flimsiest foliage) made it somewhat unrealistic. But for mounted warfare, between tanks and other armored vehicles, it was pretty effective. But man, what a pain it was to mount it all and boresight it and tweak it to work right.


17 thoughts on “MILES”

  1. It depended on the foliage. At a minimum I could cause “near-miss” which caused OPFOR to change their actions. It is a “SIMULATION”. A pain to install/boresight??? NO! I’m a grunt and could install on anything, tanks, APC, Brads, helo. etc. If you were trained and paid attention, it was very easy. Mo more difficult than any PMCS or actual boresight.

    1. I was surprised to be introduced to that zeroing box thing after I got out of active and got into that reserve OPFOR unit. We’d used it and wondered why our lasers couldn’t seem to hit the broad side of a barn. In both units though if you had time you could zero them pretty well using a troop with a green key and a harness on and one held out in each hand. Also if you could get a hose clamp and some cardboard you could get your laser to hold pretty firmly still on your muzzle.

      1. JoshO, the zero box was absolutely perfect to the size of a 5.56 bullet or, if the switch was flipped, to the size of a 7.62 (.308) bullet. But you needed to be at exactly (+ or – a few inches) the distance it was designed for (25 feet or something like that). It was amazing how precise the electronics were to receive the laser energy and discriminate where the center of the energy beam was. When I was first asked to take the MILES NETT I took it provisionally. I first needed to determine the accuracy of the simulation….having an extensive competitive shooting background plus some 60+ fire-fights I had to make that determination before accepting the task. If the weapons were accurate “enough” to produce representative results, then we could motivate the troops to respond like they would in a real fire-fight. The man-worn web harness we used to check sight alignment of the tank laser transmitters. Since all MILES armored fights were to be at battle-sight zero distances the alignments needed to be checked at representative distances. The engineering design and logic rationale were astonishingly good and I became a true believer when bringing MILES to the Army at many unit locations.

  2. Agree with Steve’s comments. He emphasized that MILES is a simulation – and not a replication. The motivation to stay “alive and in the game” caused troops to react as they would in combat to direct fire – and if the troops react as they would in combat I could teach them as I did in combat. At the squad level, the exercises are “real combat less the blood and body bags”. As the exercises go higher echelon they do lose some meaning for the soldiers who want to be involved and not just training aids for some Bn Cdr and Staff Weenies. Remember, the best form of welfare for the troops is good training – and MILES provides the best training if you take time to understand training!

    1. It also is important that the OPFOR receive proper guidance and understand their role and be able to perform their roles appropriately. None of us liked playing to a script or getting killed by the God Gun but when properly briefed on the training unit’s mission and the forces we were meant to represent it sometimes made sense. Of course on the flip side you don’t want the training unit to get complacent and if they we over confident or doing something else overly foolish the OCs would turn us loose. Free playing and motivated OPFOR was sometimes used to teach crummy officers a lesson, though it couldn’t have been too great for their troops’ moral at times… lead to some over-the-top situations at times….

      1. JoshO,your comments are good. The scripting was necessary so that the selected Training Objective could be taught…say, Actions on Contact. Remember, the purpose of a MILES exercise was to have a fight and teach lessons. In order to do that at squad level, for example, you needed to OPFOR to die in place as they forced the fight. The first iteration, most squads died completely never killing the 3 OPFOR we set out. The second try (different lane or different angle to the battle area) the OPFOR would all get killed, but most of the squad would die as they learned the lessons of fire and movement, the differences between cover and concealment, the time it took an OPFOR to acquire a target (3 seconds) and the need to change locations from where the attacker went to cover and where he re-emerged from cover. Generally it took 5 iterations before a squad was proficient at a single training objective and you could take another objective to teach.

  3. Not hard to use at the individual level, but I don’t miss having to clean my weapon after being fouled by blanks.

    1. I was exceedingly fortunate when I went through PLDC at Ft. Bragg in 1988. My unit had not yet been issued the M16A2; I was one of only two Soldiers in my teaching squad who had an M16A1 (the other was assigned to MEDDAC, at Womack Army Community Hospital). We were offered a deal: if we carried lots of extra blank ammo and magazines, and acted as surrogate SAW gunners (6-9 round bursts), the rest of the squad would clean our weapons after the FTX was over. Needless to say, we both jumped on that deal. Well worth it…

      1. Gads! What a deal! Extra ammo to play and suckers to clean your guns! Why could I not get my grandson to clean my guns when we go shooting?!

  4. GGinNC makes a troop’s observation – one held by anyone after training in the field, shooting at the range, plinking or hunting…Gee that was fun but now I have to clean my weapon! One of the unanticipated benefits of using the MILES for individual or crew-served weapons was that so many weapons and systems were found in inoperable condition! I cannot tell you how many Bn. Cdr. bet me that every weapon in their Bn. was working – and every one was wrong. Do the training, do the cleaning and be ready for combat.

  5. I am continually surprised at how much whining and complaining the use of MILES generates. Is it perfect? Not by a long shot, but it is pretty good. It also requires good OCs that are willing to do the hard work of adjudicating what actually happened, and killing those elements using “MILES berms” such as BMPs hiding behind bushes while a tank fires sabot, etc. If that platoon has good habits of boresighting, then we’ll kill the BMP. If they don’t boresight, no kill, and we explain that it was due to failure to boresight, not to the bushes. When I see OPFOR hiding in a cinderblock building, using the walls to conceal all of their sensors and I watch the training unit pour 100 rounds of 7.62 into the wall, we send an OC in to kill that guy. But what works for the training unit works for the OPFOR, too. Bad habits and techniques + volume of fire=KIA.

    1. the OC – Observer Controller – is one of the most difficult jobs to perform very competently. The OC must know the “HOW” to perform the mission in order to train the training objectives. He must also be unflinchingly FAIR in his observations after the fight is completed. And he must be skilled in bringing out the observations that lead to profitable discussions and allow learning. The single clearest MILES Fight and After-Action-Review (AAR) that I remember happened in Europe in 1982. It was a simple Movement to Contact task that a full 11-man squad performed against a free-play OPFOR of 4 man, 2 riflemen and a machine-gun 2-man Team performed in a scrub timber training lane. The squad made the movement, made contact, proceeded to “eliminating the resistance” ineffectually and teh OPFOR never had to displace under pressure. The OC stopped the mission and held an AAR. As the AAR started, the OPFOR machine-gunner proceeded to gloat how he had made all the kills and how stupid all the men in the squad were…. Really “excessive celebration” and the OC finally stopped the gloating and began a real AAR. In squad level training it is about 98% certain that the dead soldier knows he did something wrong and the OPFOR who killed him knows exactly why the soldier was killed. In the AAR, the OC competently addressed each action from the time the squad was detected, what the Squad Leader and Fire-Team Leaders ordered and were attempting to overcome the resistance and HOW each individual kill was made. At the end of the AAR was an unexpected learning point; not a single soldier killed had been killed by the machine-gunner spraying his rounds wildly. Every kill had been made by a single well-aimed shot from one of the two OPFOR riflemen. The machine-gunner made lots of noise with his long area spray and pray bursts, but made not a single kill. I smiled, because that was the same set of lessons I saw learned the hard way with blood and body-bags in combat on more than one occasion.

  6. MILES was after my time, but I spent quite a bit of time playing Aggressor, as we used to call it then. I think I still have the green pullover tunic somewhere. Having seen the the crap that goes on without such a system to enforce even a modicum of realistic behavior I am a big fan, imperfect or not.

    1. Timactual, I appreciate the comments about being a fan of MILES Training. I used to comment that MILES was the first significant advance in Objective Training since the Romans discovered they could not train full-speed with steel swords and developed wooden swords for training close-combat skills. Everything until MILES was just SUBJECTIVE close combat training. I laugh remembering the time I broke up a fist-fight between two Battalion Commanders arguing over defense/offense of a stream-line. This was a true dick-measuring argument between two officers who later would rise to wear two-stars. MILES eliminated arguments because the results were pretty darned real and units knew it.

  7. If nothing else MILES taught me that if you don’t zero your weapon you won’t hit anything. Even if you zero your weapon, you won’t hit anything if you don’t use the sightposts the same way you do on the qualification range. Basic stuff, but it really highlighted it. And I can only imagine the dick measuring contests that ensued before it existed.

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