It’s hard to believe that I/ITSEC 2017 is just around the corner. It seems like just yesterday we were saying goodbye to friends and industry associates and congratulating each other on a great show. We are now less than one month from I/ITSEC 2017’s kickoff on November 27. Of interest to many of this year’s attendees is this year’s iteration of Operation Blended Warrior (OBW), which will highlight industry/government/academia interaction in the Live, Virtual, and Constructive (LVC) domain.
In order to keep you up to date with what to expect this year and beyond, I talked with CAPT J. C. Villa, NAWCTSD Chief of Staff, and his team to get more insight on what to expect this year.
Wes Naylor: CAPT Villa, OBW’s focus shifts a little every year, so what are the technical challenges you and your team are addressing this year?
CAPT Villa: For this year’s Operation Blended Warrior (OBW), we are de-emphasizing the production aspect and focusing on the Live, Virtual, and Constructive (LVC) challenges, issues and solutions that are integral to making distributed mission training possible. We will conduct military operations in the aviation, maritime, ground, and cyber environments with focus areas in Interoperability, Data Management, Live Asset Integration, Coalition Support, and Performance Measurement.
The Army is the lead service for OBW this year and has provided objectives in the above focus areas while also emphasizing operations in a dense urban environment, centralized distribution of data, multi-level security, and commercial gaming solutions.
Both operational and technical challenges will be discussed throughout each of our OBW blocks while we also highlight LVC capabilities that each participating organization brings to the event, and LVC as a whole. Capabilities such as cross domain solution sets, data repositories, communications emulators/jammers, performance measurement tools, gaming engines, and live asset support tools are just a few of the examples that we will showcase.
Wes Naylor: With those goals and objectives in mind, how can industry come together with government to help build upon the successes of OBW?
CAPT Villa: First off, it’s not just about industry coming together with government. It’s also about industry coming together with industry. We’ve seen partnerships develop between different organizations to continue the advancement LVC efforts outside of OBW. Multiple groups, both government and industry, working together for the greater good.
We all come to the table with our own biases and assumptions that define our products and requirements. OBW provides the opportunity to validate those assumptions while also demonstrating new solutions that enable us to close LVC gaps, identify seams, and overall implement distributed mission training. OBW is a forum for action!
One issue is that OBW is temporary; that is — it’s a network that is built and utilized for one event a year. We are looking at options where we can create a persistent testbed for LVC initiatives where government and industry can collaborate 365 days a year. This concept is in its infancy, but could be an option for future implementation.
Wes Naylor: For people coming to I/ITSEC who want to see LVC in action, what should they try to see to get the most out of OBW this year?
CAPT Villa: This year we have designed the OBW blocks with LVC focus areas. I’d recommend taking a look at the I/ITSEC playbook and finding those focus areas that interest your organization and attending that specific block. For example, if you are interested in coalition integration or multi-level security, then Wednesday morning may be good opportunity to see the LVC challenges, issues, and solutions in that arena.
The big draw every year thus far has been the live asset integration. We are looking to incorporate a jet into our block on Tuesday afternoon. The challenges associated with integrating the Live into the Virtual and Constructive are definitely a focus of effort.
Also remember, OBW is not just located in booth 449. While this is where our distributed training center will be located with large screens and commentators, OBW is also distributed throughout the show floor within the booths of our many participants. I’d recommend attending the special event in booth 449, but take note of a participants’ product or service by visiting that booth, as well.
Wes Naylor: Looking ahead, with the Navy being the service lead for I/ITSEC 2018, what should people look for with OBW next year?
CAPT Villa: Next year OBW will be in its 4th, and potentially last, iteration. Some things will stay the same: 40+ domestic and international companies volleying for visibility on what the newest and latest/greatest is and will be and why they are in pole position to provide it best.
Some things will change: the team will certainly examine what is the latest and greatest for sure! We’ll probably see more AR/VR, more abstraction of base-level command (and NCO in command) learning and decision training and measurement, more social media as a controlling agent for change (local to international level), more Human Performance Measurement and Cyber Attack Offense and Defense.
More medical (troop-level) simulations are needed given the operational requirements on a global scale with the golden hour, remote ops, air spaces, etc. Last year we had just a couple on the I/ITSEC floor.
This year there’s a dozen on the floor and one industry partner bringing a cut-suit to OBW. Mental and psychological health betterment, prevention, and simulation is a growing industry but has yet to be exploited at OBW or I/ITSEC in a meaningful way. Given the increase in combat survival rates (statistically more likely to survive the same caliber explosion now than years ago, that is), we’re bringing more “broken” bodies and minds home.
Many of these same challenges exist with maintenance training. As flight time becomes more precious, so does ramp time. So too does OJT hands-on with Mx Training. As cultural acceptance of synthetic training takes hold across the fleet, so too will it happen with Mx training.
CAPT Villa was quick to point out that there is a large team of experts coming together to make OBW the exceptional event that it is. In particular, he pointed out the accomplishments and contributions of Mr. Kent Gritton, Mr. Gary Frass, CDR Gilbert Gay, LTC Robert Kammerzell and Dr. Jim Frey who are not only the people making the event happen, but have been instrumental in providing information and insight to keep our readers informed on a variety of issues related to OBW. Looking forward to seeing all of our LVC partners in attendance to see the tremendous efforts of so many come to life at I/ITSEC 2017.