It’s always amazing to watch a concept become a reality. A few years ago, as our Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) Team was preparing to be the lead service for 2015, I challenged the team. I asked them to come up with a way to really bring the future of training to the floor of the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation & Education Conference (I/ITSEC). We wanted to show the leaders of the military services what the future of Live, Virtual Constructive (LVC) could look like.
Fortunately, with the help of a tremendous team of experts, led by Kent Gritton and Gary Fraas, and RADM James Robb, President of the National Training and Simulation Association (NTSA), that challenge to bring “A War to the Floor” was realized. What started with a brief conversation and a great deal of enthusiasm has grown to be the premier LVC showcase for Industry/Academia/Government to come together to show the art of the possible. That art is Operation Blended Warrior (OBW).
This year, OBW is being showcased as a Special Event for I/ITSEC ’17 from November 27 through December 1 at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) in Orlando, Florida. In alignment with its originating vision, OBW’s primary purpose is to identify and understand the technical challenges associated with LVC and to develop a way that reduces planning cycles and creates more robust environments to exercise these capabilities.
The growth of participation from interested partners in the LVC arena has served to grow the number of participants and the complexity of the event each year. For I/ITSEC ’17, the US Army PEO STRI will be the lead service and NAWCTSD will continue to provide technical assistance and leadership for OBW ’17.
The primary benefit of the event for OBW participants is the ability to foster relationships and collaboration between LVC experts across domains through the planning and execution of the exercise. OBW provides the unique opportunity for technical experts, program managers, and military planners to work through the planning and logistical challenges of developing a high-end, multi-player LVC exercise.
OBW is the only sandbox that allows for this type of learning and coordination while also allowing for industry to test out their products and capabilities in a realistic environment with government oversight. This experience provides proof of concept capabilities for new products in alignment with service needs and technical requirements and interfaces.
NTSA’s leadership has again provided sponsorship for OBW ’17 in partnership with NAWCTSD, who will be performing program management and technical oversight and coordination for the event. As previously noted, the US Army PEO STRI will serve as co-lead for this year’s event, and they have laid out their own objectives for OBW ’17.
This year, PEO STRI has identified several key objectives focused around future Army initiatives that will seek to support what has been described as the Synthetic Training Environment (STE). The STE is an initiative that explores bringing virtual, constructive and gaming training environments together into unified system that is designed to interface with and optimize live training.
The specific new focus areas that PEO STRI has brought forward would help to gain better insights into human performance, work towards better database interoperability in dense urban areas, enhance uniform and centralized distribution of authoritative data, examine network technologies and cloud-based capabilities, and further the use of LVC in other domains to include T&E, analysis, and doctrine development.
All of these areas of inquiry complement the previous work of OBW and are in line with the objectives of the other uniformed services. As with the previous OBWs, this year will lay the groundwork for next year’s event and will serve to build a collective understanding of the future of LVC.
Stay tuned for additional updates on OBW as we move closer to the event as it is going to be the biggest and most ambitious yet!