The U.S. Army’s training and simulation arm has stood up a program office
assigned almost exclusively to support the Future Combat Systems.
In addition to developing embedded training devices for the FCS, this office
will focus on the integration of live training with virtual and constructive
Brig. Gen. Stephen Seay, the Army’s program executive officer for simulation,
training, research and instrumentation (PEO STRI), has established the Future
Force (Simulation) program, tasked with providing a framework for every training-related
project in the Army, said Jeff Simons, deputy program manager.
“It is our job to orchestrate the activities within the other PMs. They
still own their systems,” Simons told National Defense. “They still
own the responsibility to field those systems. We provide the content for them
to develop doctrine. We collaborate with them, so that—as these systems
are developed—they achieve higher and higher degrees of interoperability.”
Opportunities are starting to shape up in creating a single training environment
where the live, virtual and constructive inter-operate, and “it becomes
transparent to the war fighter training,” he said.
The technology has reached a point where the difference between those three
domains has started to blur, he added.
The Future Force office is starting out with 35 people, but it is expected
to grow to 60 in the coming months.
“We are looking for a small growth,” Simons said. “We do
not want to get too heavy too quickly, which would cause confusion.”
The organization is structured around four cells: a group that focuses solely
on the development of the FCS embedded training capability, the SMART cell,
the common components group and the unit-of-action cell, which works on systems
architecture, explained Simons.
Future Combat Systems
The FCS “is a significant area of our responsibility,” said Simons.
“The embedded training that we are looking to accomplish within FCS is
really unprecedented.” He said that the Army has achieved some limited
levels of embedded training, but nothing close to what would be required for
FCS. In FCS, the training becomes organic to the operational system, he said.
“It will...use the operational systems’ capabilities, so that there
is no training unique function,” he said.
“Unprecedented is the fact that it [embedded training] is a key performance
In the past, he noted, training was considered a logistics function that not
always received enough visibility. “War fighter readiness is a key element
of FCS and the Army leadership has made it one of the seven KPPs,” he
said. If the parameters are not met, the systems cannot be fielded, according
The FCS program entered the Systems Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase
this summer. SAIC, as a member of the Lead Systems Integrator (LSI) team led
by Boeing, is responsible for developing the training capability, said Simons.
So far, he said, the Army and the LSI have constructed an initial architecture
based on a framework provided by the Defense Department.
“Our concentration has been in the operational views, understanding how
the training is supposed to operate in the context of this and then translate
that into what the technical architecture needed to support it,” Simons
“We have got a really good start on that, and it is forming the basis
for the suppliers to develop [their technology].”
He explained that the FCS program now is in the process of identifying the
suppliers. Embedded trainers require that the developers of the operational
systems also build the training systems that go along and “take ownership
of that,” said Simons.
“It is our notion, within our acquisition strategy for training, that
these [training] requirements be given to the suppliers required for building
the operational systems,” he said.
“We did not want to go off and build our training assets, and then hand
them over to the suppliers building operational systems, and ask them to put
Simons’ office wants to make sure that the requirements are properly
allocated to the operational systems suppliers, and that the Army does “not
hire a separate supplier for trainers. That is a key element of our strategy.”
The development of the FCS training piece is heavily dependent on the SMART
cell in the Future Force (Simulation) office. SMART stands for Simulation and
Modeling for Acquisition Requirements and Training.
The concept capitalizes on modeling and simulation tools and technologies to
deal with system development, operational readiness and life cycle cost. Modeling
and simulation help to reduce the cycle time associated with the development
of new weapon systems.
“You start from the beginning with a foreknowledge that as you are developing
these simulations, you eventually are going to be able to use the same assets
of training,” Simons said.
“What you have done is you minimized replication of a bunch of simulations.
The focus in that instance is providing a similar construct for the war fighter
and also for the taxpayer to make sure that we are taking advantage of the things
that are being done from the very early stages of the development and threading
that through all the way to the end.”
The FCS program office is developing the modeling and simulation necessary
for both the engineering and the doctrine analysis. “We are dependent
on that development and on translating that into the training piece for the
FCS,” said Simons.
Meanwhile, a “common components” group is looking at the development
of common software that can be applied to the live, virtual and constructive
domains to create an interoperable environment.
“You start presenting to the war fighter a consistent representation
helping to break down the difference between the live, virtual and constructive
elements,” Simons said.
“What we are envisioning is starting to draw from much of the software
that is already [in existence] for the three domains.”
Common software will play a significant role in the after-action review, a
key element in the training. “By providing them a consistent look and
feel presentation of information across these domains [live, virtual and constructive].”
Additionally, “If there is a common thread between the live, virtual
and constructive [elements] in terms of how each scenario is established, you
do not have to relearn with each system,” how to use it, Simons said.
A Unit of Action team, or simply the architectural construct cell, offers a
top-down-view on the common standards that need to be developed for both current
and new systems, said Simons. “We established the appropriate standards
working in collaboration with the other PMs in PEO STRI, he said.
“Everybody starts building to those standards.”
However, Simons cautions that one size does not fit all. “It would be
great in the ideal situation to have a set of standards that ensure the interoperability,
but that is a very difficult thing to do. We will just have to mature over time
to get to that point, but that is what the office is all about, providing that
The goal is to have a database of training data that units could access every
time they have an exercise.
“We will attempt to get into a product line mentality where you have
this repository of capability and you draw from those capabilities depending
upon what type of training event you run,” he said.
A cookie-cutter solution would turn out to be too cumbersome and difficult
to manage, he concluded.
“What you do want to do is create those different tools that allow you
to compose a particular training event based upon the range of assets that you
have on your tool set,” he explained.
To achieve this goal, the Army has to invest in sophisticated databases, especially
“Having a common basis for that terrain—so that we get to a point
where we are building a single set of databases representing that terrain instead
of the multiple databases—would be a big start in terms of achieving that
interoperability,” he said.
“Everybody should be seeing the world in the same way and at the same
level of fidelity.”
After-action reviews and scenario generation will come a long way with the
development of common tool sets, said Simons. A PEO STRI initiative in this
arena is the Common Training Information Architecture (CTIA). “It is going
to establish a set of architectures for building the same capabilities in each
of the Combat Training Centers.”
ONESAF, the one semi-automated force, which is a computer-generated force,
is also going to serve as a basis for a number of systems, Simons said.
The Future Force (Simulation) does not yet have a firm budget according to
Simons. For the live, virtual and constructive initiative the office received
$300,000 this year, but it is looking at a considerable increase in fiscal year
“We are working through the details of what the budgetary needs are,”
he said. For the FCS embedded training development, the Army is budgeting $4
“The LSI has a much larger budget, but this is the government piece to
make it happen,” he said. Simons’ office also has seed money “to
spur and generate the interest to look at the Army to further invest in our