By Army Reserve Maj. Adam CollettOctober 21, 2012
HOUSTON -- During a time of budget constraints, organizations all across the military are seeking ways to maintain effective training and readiness at the lowest possible cost.
In October, a Texas-based Army Reserve unit used a multi-state exercise to roll out a new networked training system that helps with just that goal.
The 75th Training Command successfully operated the computer-based system over a two-day span, with participants located in Texas, Louisiana, Iowa and Alabama.
A key responsibility for the 75th is to prepare large military units for deployments and other missions by conducting scenario-based simulations, while mentoring senior leaders on effective decision-making.
For nearly a decade, this training had to be conducted at centralized locations, where either the unit being trained -- or a large team of facilitators from the 75th -- had to travel, costing time and money.
But after months of effort, the 75th has debuted a system that will allow this vital training to be conducted over computer networks. They are dubbing this system Distributed Simulations Capability, or DSC.
Maj. Darrin Husmann served as the project lead for the launch of DSC. Husmann says the simplified logistics and lower cost are only part of the picture. "[This system] allows units to train persistently over the complete training year to develop their staffs…it allows them to develop and season and mature."
The system launch was conducted as part of real-world support for the Louisiana-based 377th Theater Sustainment Command, which is required to undergo this organizational decision-making training as part of its periodic deployment readiness schedule.
Brig. Gen. Kate Kasun oversaw the exercise. Kasun, deputy commander for the 75th, says she was pleased with the results. "I couldn't be prouder of the team that put this together. Many of our soldiers contributed knowledge and experience from both their military and civilian backgrounds. When the Army Reserve uses the motto 'Twice the citizen,' this is what they mean."
A small team from the 75th did travel from Houston to the New Orleans area -- where the exercise was being conducted -- to oversee the implementation. But true to the intent of the system, most of the trainers in the simulation cell stayed at their hometown facilities in Birmingham and Houston, and controlled the scenario from there.
Officials from the 75th indicate that there are a few improvements that need to be made to the system. They are confident, however, that this new capability will deliver a better learning experience throughout the training cycle in a safer, more efficient way, and at a greatly reduced cost.
"This frees [units] from the tyranny of time and distance. Soldiers are able to develop their skill sets, and develop additional ones," says Husmann. "Like a marathon, just about everybody can run. But running 26 miles takes practice. DSC helps enable the practice so that soldiers, commanders, the unit, and the Army can do the long run when necessary to complete their missions."