By MCC(SW/AW) Chris HoffpauirApril 11, 2007
Four years after the Department of Defense established the Joint National Training Capability (JNTC), U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) continues to improve the capability by conducting analysis of service and combatant command (COCOM) training environments and adding new training site connectivity.
One of three capabilities in DoD's training transformation plan, JNTC provides joint warfighters with an enhanced way to train through a spectrum of live, virtual and constructive training environments.
The other capabilities in the plan are the Joint Knowledge Development and Distribution Capability, also managed by USJFCOM, and the Joint Assessment and Enabling Capability, managed by the deputy secretary of defense for readiness.
Navy Capt. David J. Frost, director of the Joint Warfighting Center's JNTC Joint Management Office (JMO) works with the services and COCOMs to analyze and enhance their training environments. His office collects, merges and validates joint training requirements and provides management and oversight for all JNTC activities.
He said the developing capability is making a difference in helping to create a culture of jointness in the military.
"We are moving forward with a number of efforts to improve the training environment out in the field," Frost said. "One of the major efforts that we're involved in is accrediting training programs to be joint and certifying sites and systems."
"We have actually completed that process with 22 service and COCOM training programs," he said. "Programs like the Battle Command Training Program for the Army, one of their key training programs."
Frost said other sites to complete the self-assessment process include the Army's three "dirt" combat training centers - the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., the Joint Multinational Readiness Center at U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels, Germany, and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.
These training centers focus on tactical maneuver training at the brigade level, where soldiers train in offensive and defensive warfighting, as well as stability operations. They replicate battle conditions as closely as possible to prepare units for deployment.
"We've also worked with the Navy on programs such as Fleet Synthetic Training - Joint," Frost said. "With the Air Force, we've completed seven programs, including Blue Flag, Air Warrior One [now Green Flag West], Virtual Flag, and Red Flag, and we've worked with the Marine Corps on several programs.
"We've been working with the COCOMs as well. In fact, the only COCOMs left to review are SOUTHCOM [U.S. Southern Command] and CENTCOM [U.S. Central Command], and those are scheduled to be done this year."
Frost said the JMO's goal is to have 28 assessments done and an additional three training sites certified by the end of the calendar year. One of those sites will be the Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Defense Nuclear Weapons School at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., which offers capabilities related to weapons of mass destruction.
Frost said a big part of the self-assessment process is identifying areas for improvement and where changes can be made to better facilitate interdependent operations.
This is a highly collaborative effort with the services and COCOMs, and they want to improve their joint training capabilities," Frost said. "They've been very forthright and open with us through this very systematic way of assessing those capabilities."
Frost said roughly 25 percent of the identified joint training gaps fall into two dozen trend areas, meaning they're common issues that may call for common, joint solutions. He said a chief concern is a need for the services to take part in each other's training exercises in order to build interoperability.
He said the number one gap the JNTC JMO is finding is the requirement for other services to exercise together on a consistent basis
"All the services are saying 'hey, we want more other service play.' And we're actually getting at solutions for that as well," Frost said. "One of the many things we're doing to infuse jointness into their training is fielding support elements to the programs and sites that have been accredited and certified. Right now we have 42 support element personnel in the field, and we are growing."
He said the support elements provide on-the-spot expertise and facilitate the feedback necessary for refining joint training.
"These folks are there to help the programs become more joint," Frost said. "They help them with their accreditation and certification, and they help them mitigate the gaps and seams we collectively identify."
Frost said the support elements establish a network to feed information to the training programs to help them, and to help the JNTC JMO improve its support for service and COCOM joint training programs.
"Following an exercise, we get reports back that identify the tasks they train to, what JNTC brought to the exercise, things that were done well and things that could be done better," Frost said.
Frost said that while the services still use legacy systems and processes that present interoperability issues, they are working to ensure new programs interact better in a joint environment as more service training programs are certified.
"Because they've been teaming with us in accreditation and certification, and they want to interact more with the other services in the training environment, now they're thinking more toward how to make their programs joint from the start."
Frost said that in the coming year the command will expand the Joint Training and Experimentation Network (JTEN), the communications network for JNTC. The rapidly re-configurable network supports joint training exercises, experimentation, and the evaluation of new warfighting concepts.
The network currently has 32 permanent nodes. Frost said the command will add several more this year, including nodes at SOUTHCOM and U.S. Transportation Command.
"Our strategy is to add only a few permanent sites, because we're also linking with other networks of like classification," he said. "Right now JTEN and the Navy's Continuous Training Environment (NCTE) are linked seamlessly. Via the JTEN, the joint training enterprise now has access to every site on the NCTE."
This summer the command will also link JTEN to Australia's Defence Training and Experimentation Network, allowing USJFCOM, U.S. Pacific Command and the Australian Defence Force to continue work on Australia's Joint Combined Training Capability. Frost said that work, which will culminate with Exercise Talisman Saber 2007, is going well.
"The actual connection with the Australians happens in the next few weeks," he said. "That initiative is going quite well and should result in an outstanding distributed training exercise, enabled by the JNTC."