ORLANDO, Fla. (Nov. 29, 2011) -- Training and simulation technologies are well-positioned to not only help unburden Soldiers on the battlefield and in garrison, but to help the Army deal with the budget woes it faces, said Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, Commander of the Research, Development and Engineering Command.

Justice made his remarks during a panel session with other general officers from throughout the Department of Defense as part of the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation & Education Conference being held in Orlando, Fla., this week.

Empowering Soldiers with training and simulation technology covers a wider range of capabilities than previously thought, he added.

"Really what we're trying to do is to unburden the Soldiers and the small combat units that are out there today who are, as (Training and Doctrine Command Deputy Commanding General) Lt. Gen. (Keith C.) Walker put it so well this morning, in the only fair fight that we have in our military," Justice said.

"What we're trying to do many times is not just always the physical. It's not just reducing the weight, it's reducing the burden to them in many aspects. In time: can we get training to them so that we can make their precious time more dedicated to what we're doing? Can we actually reduce the physical load? Can we reduce the mental workload that they have to operate so many separate devices, by integrating technologies into each other? And also unburden them as far as the mental and spiritual aspects of what they do to relieve the burden that they face?" he asked.

Justice told the military and industry experts in attendance they must look to the industry for examples of what is succeeding, then invest in those technologies to overcome military challenges.

"Some of the things we need to do, the real push out there, is not just about training. How about we also use the technologies in this industry to do more? How do Soldiers and units do mission rehearsal with this technology? How do they actually execute operations using this technology? We need to invest in virtual worlds that allow us to interact and create realism for that operational unit," he explained.

RDECOM spearheads the development and integration of Army technology by working with industry, academia and others to find or create such technology, and then finding ways to transition it to the Soldier.

"We try to partner with the people who are delivering the systems to our operational force and try to find ways to inject new technologies into the existing designs and continue to modernize them," Justice said.

"Once an infrastructure is in place, it's often much cheaper to modernize that infrastructure than it is to replace it with a completely new infrastructure. To illustrate that, how many of you would purposely go design broadband with the model that you have with DSL (Digital Subscriber Line)? If you could start from scratch, you would go to wireless wide-band access. But if you had an infrastructure of twisted pair in millions and millions of homes in America, you'd take a bridging strategy going forward, and that's what I would suggest we need to think about today. What are the bridging strategies for the infrastructures we have today, and how do we move forward?"

Modernizing in the face of looming budget cuts is one of the key problems the Army faces, Justice said. But it is also an area in which simulation can play many roles.

"The technology of this industry may be the best positioned to help us through the constraints that we're going to face with the budget. The technology that we use here are the technologies that allow us to train, but also to design, develop and model new concepts and to run through those new cost-saving procedures to find out how to save those operational and sustainment costs," he said.