In a few short weeks, the editors of Modern Military Training will be in Florida at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), the world’s largest modeling, simulation and training conference. Organized by the National Training and Simulation Association (NTSA) and the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), we will report on the latest trends and developments within the fields of modeling and simulation (M&S), as well as training as it relates to defense and security. Before we head down to I/ITSEC, we asked NTSA President, RADM, James Robb, USN (Ret) for his perspective on what to expect from the industry and from the annual event.
Here is what he had to say:
Modern Military Training Editors: What are the top trends in simulation and training today?
RADM Robb: The top trends in training systems involve synthetic environment, Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) simulations and artificial intelligence. We see strong demand for modeling and simulation directed at improving the warriors’ situational awareness and decision-making by providing sensor and analytic data to them to help ensure they take the right action. We also see investment in systems that allow trainees to get multiple repetitions at primary tasks. Human performance data has shown us that this repetition allows trainees to improve their skills.
In the training and education environments, we see increased emphasis on the science of learning and systems that improve our ability to train faster and more effectively. For example, each service is looking at how it wants to improve its accession training for recruits and cut down on the amount of time candidates are spending in classrooms. We are finding a lot of interest in serious games that engage the digital-age recruits with learning content in ways with which they are familiar.
MMT Editors: Where do you think we are heading over the next 6-12 months? Anything new or changing on the horizon?
RADM Robb: Today, if you want to see the face of change in military training you need to pay attention to what your kids want for Christmas. The commercial sector is running at full speed creating virtual reality add-on’s to their games and personal devices. Companies like Microsoft and Google are spending billions of dollars in research and development in support of these new markets. The military training systems companies are scrambling to take advantage of R&D in the commercial sector. This is a great challenge for service planners as they attempt to keep pace with new technologies and innovation. This trend started with the iPhone. The consumerization of IT changed how ever citizen used technology, including our military. On the up side, commercial investment will make these systems more affordable.
MMT Editors: As we head into I/ITSEC, what are the highlights we should expect to see?
RADM Robb: I/ITSEC is tracking to be a tremendous event this year. We are seeing substantial growth in attendance by the government, following some challenging years with policy restriction. Last year, we had the Commandant of the Marine Corps give a keynote. This year we have the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson, giving a key note mid-week. The number of flag, general officer and Senior Executive Service leaders attending continues to grow with lots of interest in the technology associated with synthetic environment, virtual and augmented reality, as well as increasing emphasis on human-machine teaming utilizing Artificial Intelligence.
MMT Editors: What advice do you have for a military service that is looking to modernize training?
RADM Robb: First, you have to make it a priority. In each service, training competes with new systems and operational requirements and typically has difficulty finding effective advocates inside the service or Congress. Few systems are purchased with training attached as a package, and updates compete with warfighting systems’ upgrades during their life-cycle.
Second, you need to spend time up-front identifying the training requirements. Training systems typically are technology and software driven, and this technology is changing at a rapid rate. You can’t use the same acquisition strategy for training systems that you use for higher end capabilities’ development. The commercial sector is producing new training aids in about 18 months. It takes that long to get a fully developed system on contract within DoD. So you need to look forward and team with industry to create training products on a much shorter cycle.
Lastly, every service wants to connect Live, Virtual and Constructive simulations across their force. This requires the right IT and service backbones to support it. If you want it to link joint systems, you need joint standards and protocols, as well as a common architecture. We are working hard with the services to create and enforce these standards.
MMT Editors: Can you share an example of a service that is pushing envelope with training effectiveness?
RADM Robb: One good example of a service taking action is the Navy’s “Sailor 2025 program.” This is an effort supported by senior leadership to dramatically change the way we recruit, train and manage personnel. It is well thought out and is being pushed on an aggressive timeline. It will not only cut the time to train, but it also will produce better outcomes and customer service. In addition, the U.S. Army is aggressively pursuing its next-generation Synthetic Training Environment, or STE. This effort is a top-down review on how to best implement and integrate LVC capabilities in support of training and support of the force.
Interested in more I/ITSEC news? Our team will be reporting from the show floor so check back for the latest content and updates here on Modern Military Training.