RDECOM commander leads panel discussion on training and simulation
January 22, 2011
- Training needs to be comprehensive
- Integration of mobile devices
- Budgetary concerns are opportunities for efficiency
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Training the American Warfighter in the digital age in the midst of substantial budget constraints was among topics discussed at the 10th annual TechNet-Orlando Conference here today.
The panel was led by Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, commanding general, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, and consisted of members of the military's training and evaluation community. The conference brings together senior members of military, industry and academia in the fields of command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance - known as C4ISR.
Justice chaired the panel that focused on testing, training, modeling simulation and acquisition. He opened by saying training needs to include total Soldier fitness.
"The military must take a comprehensive approach to training the Warfighter including the physical, emotional, social and spiritual aspects," Justice said.
He went on to advocate for the effective integration of so-called "smart" devices such as iPads and iPhones.
"We have to integrate everything, and it has to be a complete integration. These kids already know how to use these devices," Justice continued.
"The Army is preparing to commit to doing things digitally in the training environment. We're that close to making it. However, if training does not complement our integrations, it is a waste of time," he said.
Justice concluded by stressing that instruction for the Warfighter be team-oriented and surpass the mere development of new technologies.
"From the Army's perspective, it's about developing new capabilities. It's not always about developing new technologies, but taking that technology and using it effectively in capabilities," Justice said.
In the robust, interactive style he is known for, Justice led the panel by walking around the room, encouraging a dialogue between the audience and panel members, even giving the audience an opportunity to draw a panelist's business card from a bowl to determine the speaking order.
Col. Marcus Boyd, commander of the Air Force Agency for Modeling and Simulation, discussed training techniques the Air Force is using, particularly regarding the realm of simulation -- a theme common throughout the discussion.
"The aircraft are capable of doing so much that it cannot all be implemented while in the field. We are trying to implement the full functionality in simulation. We are working on the modernization of our constructive programs so the Warfighter has a good look at what to expect before going into the fight," Boyd said.
Capt. William Reuter, commanding officer, Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division - Orlando, expanded on the simulation theme, addressing why comprehensive training through simulation goes beyond training solely on instrumentation and technology.
"It's about the Warfighter being able to process information in theater so he can become proficient in dealing with situations on the fly. There is a need to more rapidly assess and incorporate capabilities that add fidelity to our simulators," Reuters said.
This point was echoed by Justice.
"Platform instruction will not be about pushing buttons. It will be about problem solving. You get together in a training environment to solve a problem. You don't get together to have someone lecture you," Justice said.
The discussion continued about cyber-world and simulation during remarks made by Lt. Gen. Tom Baptiste, president and executive director of the National Center for Simulation. He stressed that cyber is still in its infancy and has a long way to go before being properly implemented by the military.
"I would characterize cyber as an emerging requirement that will have to go through the growing pains of all other requirements. Until we are ready to integrate it with all the other services, it will be a multi-step process," Baptiste said.
"It's all about collaboration, cooperation and two-way dialogue with government and industry," he added.
"There are people that see training and evaluation as a barrier, not an enabler," said Amy Markowich, an executive with the Department of Navy Test and Evaluation. "The purpose of training and evaluation is to gain knowledge that can be used to advance systems development and make programmatic acquisition decisions. And we have to do this with shrinking program budgets."
Budget was another common thread throughout the session. With the current economic climate, and Congress' renewed focus on cutting the deficit, a smaller budget is a reality for all branches of the military.
"Missions keep growing, but the budgets and number of people available to perform the missions keep shrinking," Rear Adm. David Belz, former assistant commandant for Operations Headquarters for the United States Coast Guard, said.
Justice ended the session by sharing his belief that a smaller budget is a reality that needs to be embraced, and is not a hindrance.
"Inside the cost constraints are opportunities. Some of the problems we've articulated here happened because we had too much money. We could afford to do multiple, isolated things. Shortages of money are opportunities to do things better," he said.