Small Infantry Units To Reap Benefits of Simulation

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by sandeepdg, Jul 22, 2010.

  1. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

    Sep 5, 2009
    Likes Received:
    The expansion of modeling and simulation across the U.S. military, from flight simulators to force readiness models, so far has failed to reach small infantry units in close combat, according to military officials.

    "One of our key focuses at Joint Forces Command is to try and build an immersive venue for all of our war fighters so that their very first fight is no worse than their last practice," Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Layfield told the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee at a July 20 hearing.

    Layfield is director of the Joint Training and Joint Warfighting Center at U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM).

    "State-of-the-art simulation training that is demanded and accepted as routine for aviation, armor or maritime forces is negligible or almost nonexistent on a large scale for U.S. ground forces," Layfield said in his written testimony.

    To fill this gap, the Pentagon is spending $27 million on a Future Immersive Training Environment, a joint capability technology demonstration, according to Layfield's testimony. The effort aims to provide training that emphasizes tactical and ethical decision-making in a simulated close-combat environment.

    Separately, JFCOM is being funded for $285 million from 2011 through 2015 "to assist the services with the development of immersive trainers that replicate the joint operating environment," Layfield's testimony says.

    To keep up with technology, the requirements and the timeline for completing these systems are constantly under review, Layfield said.

    JFCOM has also teamed up with the Army to field a system to rehearse convoy missions and high value target operations in theater. This $270,000 project is funded through the Afghanistan Rapid Data Generation Quick Reaction Fund. The 2-87th Infantry Battalion of the 10th Mountain Division requested the capability for their deployment to Afghanistan, Layfield said.

    The goal of these efforts is to reduce casualties and ethical missteps in combat, Layfield told lawmakers. It is also believed that virtual training can increase psychological resiliency by exposing soldiers and Marines to what they might experience in combat before they deploy.

    Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., asked Layfield and the other service officials testifying whether there was any data to support the idea that simulation training was saving lives.

    "I can't really say that we have figured out that we've saved peoples lives in the ships and aircraft, although I have to believe that the pilots that fly the aircraft and the ship operators are far better than they would be without them," said Vice Adm. William Burke, deputy chief of naval operations, fleet readiness and logistics.

    The modeling and simulation industry has grown exponentially over the last 15 years, said Fred Lewis, president of the National Training and Simulation Association. This is partly due to requirements, but also because of growing capability.

    Burke said that fuel costs are driving the push toward using more simulators, which also reduces wear and tear on the actual systems. This means less maintenance for the real systems, making them more frequently available.

    There is also more interest across the services because the technology has gotten better, Burke said, calling this shift a "cultural change." An increase in computer processing power in recent years has led to these advancements, Lewis said.

    While modeling and simulation programs appear to offer cost-savings, they are not without costs themselves, according to officials.

    The use of simulation depends on the type of mission being trained and whether it is possible to obtain a high-fidelity simulator for that mission, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Marke Gibson, director of operations in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Requirements. This requires an investment in simulator upgrades, he said.

    It is problematic when a pilot knows his training system doesn't represent the most up-to-date version of the aircraft, Gibson said.

Share This Page