At the core of the U.S. Army’s efforts to prepare for non-conventional
warfare—such as small-scale conflicts and regional flare-ups—is
the idea that a soldier must see the enemy before the enemy sees
him. And he must take action quickly, before the enemy can react.
The problem with trying to develop those combat skills is that
the training capabilities available today are inadequate, said Col.
Charles Randy Ball, project manager at the Army’s Simulation
Training and Instrumentation Command (STRICOM).
The training tools—such as command-post simulations—currently
used to instruct commanders and staffs are not suited to prepare
the type of leaders the Army wants in the future, Ball said. These
simulations “will never allow them to execute that kind of
doctrine,” he told reporters during a briefing at an Association
of the U.S. Army’s symposium in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
What the Army needs, Ball said, is a simulation “with enough
detail, with enough fidelity to practice the way we are going to
That simulation is in development now, and it’s called Warsim,
said Ball. Warsim is the land component of a gigantic multi-service
simulation program called JSIMS, or joint simulation.
Warsim could be available as early as 2004, but its future is tied
to JSIMS, which has suffered delays and cost overruns since the
program began in 1997. JSIMS is managed by a government team under
the Defense Department’s office of research and engineering.
Lockheed Martin Information Systems, in Orlando, Fla, became the
Warsim prime contractor in 1996. Subcontractors include SAIC, Logicon,
Computer Associates, Dynamics Research Corp. and Veridian.
All Levels of Conflict
What makes Warsim valuable to the Army is that it allows brigade,
division, corps and joint commanders to train for all levels of
conflict, from major theater wars, to peacekeeping and operations
in support of international coalitions, explained Debra Palmer,
program manager at Lockheed Martin. “They can train more realistically,”
she said, because Warsim can adapt to all types of environments
In peacekeeping and support operations, she added, “you have
complex relationships, non-traditional players and coalition forces.”
If this program works as promised, it would allow joint commanders
to conduct after-action reviews based on the actions by all services,
not just the Army, Palmer said. Currently, there is no “common
view of the battlefield,” she said. “JSIMS would provide
Each service would build its own models, but there are some common
pieces that all services would need to standardize, such as look-and-feel,
user interface, simulation engine and scenario generation capabilities.
“Everything we do in Warsim is integrally tied to JSIMS,”
said Ball. “We are completely dependent on them for key parts
of what makes Warsim work. It’s important that we are in lockstep
Lockheed Martin is developing a synthetic natural environment,
a user interface and a tactical intelligence module for all services,
said Palmer. The intelligence module makes it possible for the simulation
players to receive data from eight intelligence systems, as well
as a host of tactical sensor platforms.
“The key component of our doctrine, the Joint Vision 2020,
relies on information superiority,” Ball explained. “That
cannot be realized without the entire [intelligence, surveillance
and reconnaissance] ISR systems inventory in place, at the theater
and tactical level.”
The ability to rehearse missions on short-notice is going to be
“one of the most powerful applications” of Warsim, Palmer
STRICOM, meanwhile, sees Warsim as a launching pad for an ambitious
plan to connect virtual, constructive and live simulations. Warsim
is a constructive command-and-staff training simulation. A virtual
simulation, for example, is the Army’s close-combat tactical
trainer (CCTT), used by tank gunnery forces. Live simulations are
range exercises, such as those conducted at the National Training
Center, in the California desert.
The goal, said Ball, is to link constructive and virtual simulations,
and, ultimately, tie them to a live simulation. “That’s
our long-term vision.”
Joint battle-command training today requires an assembly of about
nine models from different services, said Ball, which are “difficult
to link to virtual simulations.”
JSIMS would provide a synthetic environment that is common to everyone,
he said. For the Army, specifically, the plan is to have a single
synthetic environment connecting Warsim, CCTT and Onesaf (one semi-automated
force), which is an entity-level simulation generating the backdrop
for a virtual simulation.
Ball said the Army currently has three major systems for command
training at the division-and-above levels. They all will neck down
into Warsim. For brigade-and-below levels, there are four major
systems used to train digitized forces at Fort Hood and Fort Lewis.
Those will be replaced in 2005 by Onesaf, said Ball.
Onesaf models the physical behavior of every person, tank and round
of ammunition on the battlefield, he said. “We are going to
have a link between Warsim and Onesaf.”
Both Warsim and Onesaf eventually will be installed at all Army
schoolhouses. But Ball cautioned that this system does not support
the strategic-level war games that typically are conducted at the
Army War College. Warsim helps commanders prepare for war. At the
War College, the simulations are designed to help national leaders
decide whether to go to war at all.
To improve its virtual simulations, STRICOM is funding a project
at the Institute for Creative Technologies, in Marina del Rey, Calif.
“It’s a partnership between STRICOM and the entertainment
community to see how we can make our simulation training more realistic,”
said Ball. “We can take huge advantage of the ‘dollar-leverage’
that the entertainment industry has.”
James Korris, director of the institute, said he is working on “high-end
three-dimensional graphics for mission rehearsal.” By the
end of this decade, “I think we will be able to demonstrate
something very close to the holodeck,” he told the Army conference
in Fort Lauderdale. The holodeck is the simulation lab popularized
by the 1990s TV show “Star Trek, The Next Generation.”
Experts from the entertainment and gaming industries have been
hired for this effort, Korris said. The work is focusing on developing
digital scenarios for the Army’s next-generation combat vehicle,
called FCS (future combat system). “We are looking 15 years
into the future,” said Korris. These virtual simulations require
large displays, with 150-degree field-of-view, typically used for
high-end research work in molecular analysis, spacecraft and automobile
The next step is to develop games and game consoles, said Korris.
The institute plans to create a training simulation, derived from
a Sony Playstation 2 game, which would model the way people interact
with robots and sensors.
The human-machine interface for the FCS will have dramatic implications
for soldier training, said Barbara A. Black, human factors expert
at the U.S. Army Research Institute. The use of “robotic shooters”
is a new concept in the Army, she said. For the reason, the service
needs to figure out how soldiers will be trained to fight with these
new systems. The next generation of technology, said Black, “will
not solve the human problem of training and leadership development.”