The Army’s training systems program office is developing a long-term
plan to transition technology to the National Guard and homeland security organizations.
Army officials said they are eager to share their training and simulator technologies
with other agencies, but they must first gain a better understanding of homeland
security requirements and funding sources.
Existing training systems used in the U.S. Army can be adapted for homeland
security and domestic terrorist-response training relatively easily, said Lt.
Col. Joseph A. Giunta Jr., program manager for Army ground combat tactical trainers.
A bigger challenge, however, is understanding how homeland defense organizations
develop their requirements and how they go about funding their programs, Giunta
said in an interview.
“We have to educate that community on what capabilities we already have,”
Local firefighters, police and hazmat units always have been first responders,
but now increasingly they are being asked to prepare to deal with weapons of
mass destruction attacks, such as nuclear, chemical and biological. The Army
already has a significant WMD defense capability, but many homeland defense
agencies are not aware of what the Army has to offer, Giunta said. Educating
these agencies is “hard to do.”
Military training systems, he said, “can be very quickly modified for
small amounts of dollars to be used as homeland defense tools for state, local
and other federal agencies.”
But it often is difficult to pinpoint who is responsible to provide those dollars.
Giunta’s office quickly found out that most organizations don’t
follow the highly structured budgeting process the Army is used to. “How
the money flows in homeland defense,” he said, is much different than
in the Defense Department.
In the Army, the process is “very stringent ... Our funding sources are
very well identified. That is not actually true on the homeland defense side.”
Officials from the program executive office for simulation, training and instrumentation
(PEO STRI) gradually are becoming more attuned to the needs of the homeland
security community, he explained. Giunta has had meetings with representatives
from the Departments of Justice and State, as well as local authorities.
“They procure their capabilities through the grant process,” he
said. An “interagency board” with representatives from Justice,
chiefs of police and various state-level officials approve a list of training
devices that agencies can then purchase with federal grant money.
“Once a piece of equipment gets on that list, federal grant dollars are
given to a city to procure” that equipment, Giunta said. “That is
what we heard from agencies.”
One device that the Army already is marketing to homeland defense organizations
is the Engagement Skills Trainer. The EST is one example of the type of technology
the Army can transition to homeland defense. “Why would we have taxpayers
spend dollars on capabilities that already exist?” Giunta asked.
The system, used for marksmanship training, can be adapted to meet the needs
of state and local agencies, Giunta said. The problem is “how we get it
from the military side to the homeland defense side. ... That is the initiative
we are trying to put in place.”
The trainer has scenarios for military police, for example. “We took
it to the state of Hawaii, because they are interested in setting up a homeland
defense training center,” he said. Hawaii is considering creating a simulation
of the state’s Capitol Building, so police units can rehearse missions
in virtual reality through the building.
The National Guard, meanwhile, is gaining a predominant role in homeland defense
and is expected to require new training capabilities.
“The Guard is a great customer of mine,” Giunta said. Congress
approved a plan that directs the Guard to field Civil Support Teams in every
state, which would be responsible to assist the local authorities during WMD
Of concern to PEO STRI is how these units will train, what standards they will
follow and whether they could train collectively, from different locations.
“Fighting WMD events in CONUS [continental U.S.] is new to us,”
said Giunta. “Everyone is struggling with how to do that, from a training
perspective. ... From our perspective, how do we provide and what tools do we
provide so they have the same standards? How do we leverage that for the state
The same standards taught for hazmat training in the Army are employed by the
National Guard and Reserves. The active force, however, does not have Civil
Support Teams. “So the Army is struggling with how to train those folks.
It’s new to us.”
Even though several CSTs have been in place for a couple of years, “it
takes a while to figure out what those standards are and what devices and tools
need to be put in place to train those guys,” said Giunta. “The
National Guard is interested in what we have. But we have to make sure that
we don’t just provide them tools that don’t necessarily meet the
The active-duty Army, meanwhile, would like to develop capabilities similar
to the CSTs. For that reason, PEO STRI plans to fund new training systems for
NBC units, under a program called VERTS (virtual emergency response training
The engineering school, chemical school and military police school at Fort
Leonard Wood, Mo., have requested training systems for NBC missions, said Giunta.
“Today, we train NBC for all our organizations, but not the installation,”
he explained. That is because “active components don’t have an equivalent
to the CST.”
The requirements document for the NBC training systems is being drafted and
written by the Chemical School, but it will be a joint capability, covering
Army, Navy and Air Force bases.
Once the Army and the Joint Staff approve the requirements, PEO STRI plans
to solicit bids from industry for this program. The Army, however, already has
“an 80-percent solution,” in the VERTS program. “We have been
prototyping and demonstrating VERTS with Army R&D funds.”
Giunta said the project could be launched within the next year or so. The funding
could range from $2 million to $150 million.
“We don’t know how many devices we’ll need. That is our best
guess based on the requirements.”