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Review: Survitec Inflatable Walls Training System

A fundamental reason why humans have a brain is that we can perform adaptable movement within complex environments and situations. The concept of ‘adaptability’ is unto itself a perishable skill. If you only practice marksmanship in the prone, on a flat 25m range, chances are you will not adapt to the variety of circumstances in a real-world scenario. The past twenty years we have seen a change in mindset. Military, and even competition such as 3-Gun, train with variance in mind in order to be prepared for the unexpected.

A product that I experienced recently was the Survitec Inflatable Walls Training System (IWTS). Designed for use in military and law enforcement, the IWTS is a training tool that quickly and accurately replicates a real-world target. The system supports the concept of adaptability with the skillset of Close Quarters Battle (CQB).

In all my years doing tape drills and working in modular shoot houses, I have never seen a better training tool for CQB than the Survitec Inflatable Walls Training System (IWTS). I had the chance to spend a few days with retired Navy Veteran (SEAL) Scott Williams, Survitec US SOCOM & Law Enforcement Business Development Director, and learn about the system and actually rehearse with the unit. Scott has a long history of product development, and he and I used to work with one another at Program Manager Special Operations Forces – Survival, Support, and Equipment Systems (PM-SOF SSES), in Natick, MA.

Survitec

With history dating back to the 1920s, Survitec has long been an innovator in inflatable systems for many applications. Beginning in the manufacture of life rafts, Survitec expanded into small inflatable and rigid boats, immersion and survival suits, marine evacuation systems, and more. Based in the United Kingdom, they service the industrial, defense, energy, and aviation industries. The IWTS was a way to leverage existing technology from other categories and introduce a valuable training aid to military and law enforcement.

Inflatable Walls Training System (IWTS)

The IWTS is a semi-rigid, sturdy, air-filled wall system that can be configured to any room or building configuration the user desires. Tested and approved for Simuntion, non-lethal training ammunition, and flashbangs, the walls are darn tough.  The plastic rounds will bounce right off the walls, and the walls are guaranteed for up to 5 years. Many of the walls have window cut outs, and inflatable doors, and the option of hanging real wooden doors.

Easy to transport, inflate, and set up however you see fit.

“I can set up an 800 square foot shoot house facility in about 35 minutes,” says Williams. “It’s really configured to be set up anywhere, a parking garage, indoor Police range, a field or even a warehouse where you can run day or even night training scenarios.” You can get very expansive with the design and set up, creating a single room up to even 25 rooms. The walls are inflated with a regular garden blower, and are waterproof and UV resistant.

The IWTS can also be married with a Fit Light, which is an active target computer system that helps train situational awareness and target acquisition. The feedback generated from the computer system goes back to the computer helping to analyze training effectiveness.

The system has been picked up by a variety of domestic and international units. Most recently by British Army’s 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (1 Mercian).

Adaptability & Real-World Scenarios

A small group of us traveled down to the Florida Keys to T&E the system with Williams. Our training location was a small island only accessible by boat, and surprisingly it was easy to transport the dozen plus walls to the location. We set up a 4-room building with Williams in about 25 minutes. With all four of us working, and with only one pump, it was a relatively easy process. The best part was that we could replicate the target we were about to hit later that afternoon. The IWTS gave us the ability to create an immersive and realistic CQB training scenario. If we wanted to change a window or door, no problem. The system reinforced the aspect of remaining adaptable while working a skill like CQB. The walls were impervious to the Simunitions, and even when they hit the walls they didn’t bounce back at us. Everything felt like a real house.

Our 4 man team approaches the Survitec IWTS

Understanding the value of rehearsal and teamwork, I found the IWTS extremely valuable. With today’s technology for intelligence gathering, we often have imagery of a target prior to conducting a raid. A system that is easy to transport, easy to modify, and you can conduct very realistic rehearsals is extremely valuable. The system can build any user’s confidence prior to hitting a real-world target. Using the system, I am reminded of how valuable the tool is overseas during deployments. Serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment, we often had imagery of targets prior to execution. Rehearsal was generally done using tape drills. Access to training tools such as the IWTS gives you the opportunity to rehearse realistically.

It’s profound to see how far we have come with respect to training. Our mindset and the tools which we use, reflect learning from our experiences and applying solutions. In a violent world, we ask ourselves: how can we be better prepared? Adaptability and the training aids that support the concept are the way of the future.


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