By Scott A. Myers, Synthetic Training Environment Command PAOMarch 12, 2018
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- The Soldier/Squad Virtual Trainer Capability Development Team, part of the Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Team led by Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, Combined Arms Center-Training deputy commanding general, hosted Industry Day Feb. 26-27, 2018 that included 131 guests from across the nation representing 63 civilian entities and 20 government agencies.
The purpose of the gathering was to develop collaborative efforts between the Army, industry and academia, which will refine requirements and provide possible material solutions for the S/SVT training capability and STE/CFT. Developing these efforts also presents the opportunity to continue dialogues regarding different ways the Army may streamline traditional acquisition approaches by bringing industry and users together early in the process.
This effort is critical in supporting the Secretary of Defense's Soldier Lethality Initiative as it will close critical technology gaps, like providing the Army and Marines a squad level close combat virtual simulation training capability. These types of capabilities allow Soldiers and Marines the training repetitions necessary to enter live situations at a higher level of readiness.
Gervais opened the event stating that the Army is interested in non-traditional approaches to requirements, development and equipment fielding. She asked industry and academia members in attendance to help the Army "break the [acquisition] paradigm."
"We don't know everything," said Gervais. "We want an open dialogue with you [industry and academia] so we can also learn from you. This is a collaborative process. We know the users, and you know the tech. We will listen to what you have to tell us."
The goal: when S/SVT and other STE components are fielded, that they truly meet the user's needs.
According to Gervais, virtual based training systems are a key element to restoring battlefield dominance and improving Soldier lethality through "training overmatch." The STE/CFT is part of an Army modernization effort consisting of eight CFTs working together to streamline the acquisitions process, and to develop and deliver the best systems and capabilities into the hands of Soldiers at a faster rate. When industry, academia and users are brought together early in the process, the Army can improve their method for defining capability requirements.
With a future fraught with unpredictable operating environments and threats, the need for Army modernization through improved training capabilities and equipment is paramount. Soldiers and units must be prepared to operate and win anywhere and anytime against potential adversaries who are closing the warfighting capability gap between themselves and the U.S. Army.
The STE will provide commanders the ability to train and develop "virtual veterans who have seen that before," said Gervais.
While live training has always been, and will always be the Army's preferred method of training, commanders are confronted with resource constraints in planning and conducting live training.
Virtual training systems like the S/SVT and STE provide unique benefits that compliment live training by providing the opportunity for Soldiers and units to "enter live training exercises at a higher state of proficiency," said Michael Enloe, Chief Engineer for STE.
Virtual training systems increase the overall effectiveness of live training and allow units the ability to master collective training tasks in the live environment to better prepare them to engage and destroy an enemy in any operating environment.
The CFTs represent an ambitious and vital effort to modernize the Army, increase Soldier lethality and maintain battlefield dominance. The CFT Synthetic Training Environment coupled with critical Soldier training capabilities, contributes its part by providing commanders the most technically advanced training toolkit at the training "point of need."
The S/SVT -- a key component of the STE, is a fully and truly integrated training system that brings training capabilities to the unit whether they are deployed, or at home station, armories or institutions. The system will provide significant improvements to individual Soldier training for weapons skill development, Joint Fires training (qualification and certification) and Use of Force training. Not only will it make significant improvements over currently available legacy systems, it will fill a critical squad collective training gap by adding Close Combat Squad training to an integrated Soldier/Squad training system.
Keeping pace with the rapid development of technology has become a task the Army cannot easily accomplish in many cases due to a multi-layered acquisition process that is sometimes an obstacle to the Army's ability to incorporate the best technologies.
The S/SVT Industry Day is one of many efforts the Army's CFTs continue to use in order to build closer, more fruitful relationships with industry, other service branches and academia in order to explore ways to streamline the acquisitions process, inform research and requirements and give our warfighters the best training and equipment available in a timely fashion.
Each of the CFTs is led by a one or two-star General, or a Senior Executive Service civilian, and staffed by subject matter experts for each emphasis area: long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift platforms, a mobile and expeditionary Army network, air and missile defense capabilities and Soldier lethality. The STE/CFT falls under the Chief of Staff of the Army's Soldier lethality modernization effort and seeks to identify critical requirements to leverage current and emerging commercial technologies through partnership with other Army agencies, industry and academia to place the best, most effective training and warfighting capabilities possible into the hands of Soldiers.
The S/SVT Industry Day is just the first of more events to come, according to Gervais, "This is just the beginning."
Future events are in the planning stages with the goal of giving the Army the leap-ahead capabilities that it needs and to build closer, personal relationships with industry and academia -- task that according to Undersecretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy is a key to success. "A successful Futures Command very much depends on bringing in the right people and then cementing personal relationships with them."