Senior representatives from the US military services and NATO provided their insights on the challenges and opportunities to provide trained, mission ready forces in the current and future operating environments.
Vice Admiral Javier Gonzalex-Hiux, ESP Navy, the deputy chief of staff (joint forces training) at NATO HQ SACT, updated the conference delegates on his command's Industry Involvement Initiative for NATO Exercises (I3X). The Norfolk, Virginia-based flag officer said the program's goal is to welcome and encourage innovation by allowing industry to gain a foundational understanding of how NATO exercises are initiated, planned, executed and evaluated. To accomplish this goal, exercise participants from industry and business are embedded in various exercise headquarters with the intent to allow these subject matter experts to obtain insights on how their respective companies can assist NATO to find solutions to its future capability challenges. Fifty one companies were invited to observe this fall's 2015 Exercise Trident Juncture.
Major General James Lukeman, the commanding general at US Marine Corps Training and Education Command, challenged industry representatives to help fill some of the "gaps" in his service's training programs. While Lukeman opined this training commands are making "good use of simulation in the live, virtual and constructive (LVC) environment, more technology is needed. At the top of the commander's help wanted list was the need to improve the decision-making skills of small unit leaders, by providing them "repetitions" in a rigorous, live training environment. The senior service officer also noted current virtual reality solutions "fall short" of allowing his marines to use organic weapons, communications and other mission materiel. "We need simulations for this use in collective, small unit scenarios and we must distribute this capability." The Quantico, Virginia-based general told industry representatives their small unit training solutions must be simple, portable, lite weight and use a common architecture. Lukeman further challenged the delegates to use augmented reality.
Opportunities to advance the state-of-the-art in LVC technology were presented by Major General James Post, the director of current operations at Headquarters Air Force (Pentagon). The veteran aviator noted that while LVC is a foundation of his service's training, "we have a long way to go" to optimize the potential of this training domain. Post's specific LVC shortfalls included the need to better integrate units and staffs in both the secure and non-secure LVC environments.
Cyber training was among the topics discussed by Frank DiGiovanni, the director of force readiness and training in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Readiness). The Pentagon official noted today's large-scale, but efficient cyber ranges must become smaller and more agile. "This [cyber training] is a number one priority but is also a niche market. We also need additional innovation -- how to practice and train to part tasks, for example" he added. The former career Air Force aviator further opined that as the US military pursues its "Force of the Future" innovation is needed in how prospective members of the future force are viewed. In one example, he noted that attributes of prospective force members (i.e., introvert vs. extrovert) should be determined and more fully used in billet placement.
Lieutenant General Michael Williamson, the military deputy and director of the Army Acquisition Corps on the Army staff, cautioned the assembled delegates that challenges and opportunities loom large on the simulation and training community's horizon. While the service completes modernization and reset following 15 years of ground war in Afghanistan and other venues, "we will also to the best of our ability protect our investments in simulation and training -- they are our 'seed corn."