Governor visits LF, Camp Ripley

(Pictured: CPT. Guy Konietzko provided Governor Tim Pawlenty, Commissioner of Public Safety Rich Stanek, and the press a tour of the new state-of-the-art Tactical Live Fire Village at Camp Ripley. Staff photo by Lisa Wimmer)

According to the tour guide, CPT. Guy Konietzko, the facility was built for Urban Training and will be used for training by members of the military, state and local law enforcement, and certain federal agencies.

“We hear about it now in the news in Iraq,” said Konietzko. “Urban combat is very costly to us. This kind of training is crucial to our success.”

The substance of urban training is confronting conflict in small, confined areas, and while coming across moving targets, making the split-second judgement of whether to shoot or not to shoot and if shoot, whether the hit was a kill or a wounding shot.

The shoot house is a structure within a building with a ballistic door at the entrance/exit. This, along with walls made of one-half inch thick steel, means the rounds fired cannot escape from within.

The shoot house contains a total of three urban training areas. The first is a corridor style area and resembles an apartment building or motel situation, with two rooms with doors on each side.

The second training area resembles a home, perhaps a living room, and the third training area resembles an office type facility.

Each of the training areas has moving and/or swinging targets, resembling a potential suspect. Trainees wear protective equipment when going through. Actual training is done in either low light or no light, said Konietzko.

Powerful air handling units steadily produce a full exchange of oxygen to eliminate lead in the air.

Because of the cold weather environment in Minnesota, special filters are used; thereby, no heat is lost.

The floor of the building is made of 12-inch reinforced concrete and the ceiling is eight-inch reinforced concrete.

The control room for all activity in the shoot house containes television monitors with split screen views and other equipment. Fourty-one cameras at work allow staff in the control room to view basically every square inch of the shoot house, each capable of viewing its area from at least two and up to six angles.

There is an intercom and speaker system by which control room staff and trainees can communicate when necessary.

The cost of the entire facility was $1.6 million, with the State of Minnesota contributing $1 million and the federal government contributing $600,000.

“Training law enforcement officers and members of the armed forces in state-of-the-art facilities is important, especially in uncertain times,” Pawlenty commented. “I am pleased that we can offer this type of training here in Minnesota.”

Governor Pawlenty also spoke a bit about his having “deep roots” in the area, with his great-grandparents immigrating to Little Falls from Poland. When Tim Pawlenty’s father was a boy, the family relocated to St. Paul to work in the meat packing industry; hence, the governor was raised in St. Paul.

Governor Pawlenty’s tour at Camp Ripley was one of several stops he made Wednesday as he toured parts of greater Minnesota. Other stops included the Monticello Nuclear Power Plant, Shoremaster Inc. in Fergus Falls, and Discover Junior High School in Alexandria.

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