Synthetic Training Environment offers multi-dimensional combat preparation

By Maureena Thompson, Army Futures CommandFebruary 15, 2022

Soldiers test out Synthetic Training Environment tools at the Technology Integration Facility.
Soldiers test out Synthetic Training Environment tools at the Technology Integration Facility in Orlando, Florida. (Photo Credit: Army photographers) VIEW ORIGINAL

AUSTIN, Texas – Preparing Soldiers for futuristic battlefields using today’s equipment and resources is no easy feat, but it is one that the Army Futures Command Synthetic Training Environment Cross-Functional Team (STE CFT) is addressing creatively through the use of technologically advanced and video game-like training tools.

As one of eight Army Futures Command CFTs designed to accelerate and enable Army modernization priorities, the STE CFT brings together industry and academic experts, influential government partners and both seasoned and novice Army Soldiers to inform synthetic training requirements and cultivate shared capabilities.

The 26-person-strong STE team develops and tests synthetic training systems at its state-of-the-art Technology Integration Facility in Orlando, Florida, as well as through Soldier touchpoints conducted at various locations throughout the year. At the Orlando facility, industry partners can demo innovative tech products, Soldiers can test new virtual training programs and Army leaders can gain hands-on insight into emerging technologies and their potential applications for future force readiness.

The STE Information System, a virtual training suite being developed by the STE Enterprise, utilizes 3D imagery of terrain and high-resolution graphics to replicate the rigor and complexity of a fast-paced, multi-domain operational environment. Within this system, the CFT is able to harness its One World Terrain mapping program to import actual terrain data and visually transport the end user to anywhere in the world.

“The key is the ability to rapidly build the terrain and the operational environment into the STE and deliver it quickly to the warfighter,” said Brig. Gen. William R. Glaser, director of the STE CFT. “Leaders can then use the STE to conduct reconnaissance, war games and rehearsals.”

Layered into STE programs are artificial intelligence and machine learning processes that help accurately simulate warfighting elements, including weapons movements, enemy threats and combat stressors. The programs not only construct and replicate tough and realistic scenarios for Soldiers, but also collect detailed data on how Soldiers react under pressure, further informing training needs and operational planning methods and continually increasing training thresholds.

Importantly, the STE CFT also seeks to integrate virtual training tools into existing Army systems and live training exercises, generating a whole-of-resources approach to delivering the best training programs possible to Soldiers.

For example, the CFT is currently refining its Squad Immersive Virtual Trainer (SiVT), a mixed-reality training tool with a head-up display and cutting-edge technology that allows Soldiers to use their organic weapons for training scenarios. SiVT is delivered through the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) and integrates simulated images with views of a Soldier’s actual surroundings.

Once SiVT is fielded with IVAS, Soldiers will use it to conduct, collectively as a squad, multiple iterations of battle drills and rehearse for combat before executing operations. Use of the SiVT for these transportive training scenarios will require minimal preparation on the part of the trainer and will also offer the ability for leaders to conduct near-immediate after action review.

In addition, each STE tool is built intentionally to be effective, efficient, easy to use and encompassing – meaning readily available to all types of Soldiers at practically any home or deployed location. This inherent flexibility and ability to deliver at scale means the future possibilities for STE are many.

“When a training capability like the STE becomes so essential that commanders demand it to support reconnaissance, wargaming, rehearsal and AAR capability while deployed, then we will have achieved our end state,” Glaser said.