TRAINING AND SIMULATION
I/ITSEC Show to Highlight Live-Virtual-Constructive Training Technologies
The blending of live environments with simulated components to create more realistic training scenarios is one of the major themes expected at this year's Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference.
The world’s largest modeling, simulation and training show kicks off Nov. 30 with thousands of attendees and hundreds of exhibitors meeting at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.
Senior military leadership "for the last 18 months has been focused on what we call live, virtual, constructive training," said James Robb, the president of the National Training and Simulation Association, the conference's sponsor. LVC is an integrated concept that involves linking live aircraft with manned simulators in the “virtual” world and computer-generated “constructive” forces.
For the last 15 years, U.S. troops have been getting live training experience in actual combat environments in the Middle East, Robb said. With service members returning home and fiscal constraints remaining in place, the military has been looking for ways to continue to provide that realistic training, while simultaneously keeping spending down.
"We have to take those lessons, and we need to maintain that same fine edge," he said. "How do we do that at home? Most of that is through simulation."
The conference will feature speeches, panels, workshops and tutorials. Waymon Armstrong, the founder and CEO of Engineering and Computer Simulations, and Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, will give keynote addresses Dec. 1.
One of the conference's main themes is "Operation Blended Warrior."
"It's a live, virtual, constructive network on the floor," Robb said. Thirty government and industry partners with bring their LVC capabilities into a common environment where they will be faced with challenges in war game-like scenarios.
Col. Nathan Hill, director of the training division at the air and space operations directorate, Air Combat Command, said the blended warrior demonstration will focus on existing capabilities. "It’s not going to be the kind of display that shows the best in breed. It’s going to be a display that shows what can happen right now with some of the technology we have."
The primary goal is to demonstrate where there are weaknesses with the technology and to find solutions to fix those problems. "I think it’s going to be a good way to get industry and the military to all work together to try to help solve LVC for the future," Hill said.
Gene Colabatistto, group president of defense and security at CAE, a Canadian training and simulation company, said the emphasis on this type of technology "has been rather dramatic in the last two years."
The U.S. military is already spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on live, virtual, constructive capabilities, he said. "It is still [in the] early stages, but this is exactly what everything is centered around now."
There are several indications that the defense simulation market is poised for growth and investment based on this year’s anticipated turnout, Robb said. More than 15,000 attendees — a 5 percent increase from last year's number — are expected. Additionally, more than 500 companies and 60 countries will be represented.
The number of companies that will be in attendance is remaining relatively stable compared to last year, although there will be a significant increase in the amount of employees accompanying each contractor, Robb said. "That's a positive indication of more investment in their business development activities," he said.
Another notable difference is the increase in government participation compared to the last three years, he added. The Army will exhibit on the floor this year, which it had been barred from doing the last three years because of policy restrictions.
Additionally, both the commandant of the Marine Corps and the chief of naval operations will be in attendance at this year's event. "It's the first time we've had two service chiefs at the same show," Robb noted.
The increase in government attendees is a telling sign that officials are interested in reengaging with industry at venues such as I/ITSEC, he said. "Three years ago they [top leadership] were prohibiting people from going," he said. Now "they've actually returned to the realization that bringing all of these people together is not only economical, but it is one-stop shopping for market research."
Another theme that the conference will focus on is called “Black Swan.” A black swan is a low-probability, high impact event that is difficult to predict but highly disruptive. An example is the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City. This discussion will focus on whether those events are truly unpredictable and impossible to plan for in advance, according to the show preview.
"One of the areas we [the training and simulation industry] have tremendous strength in is the simulation of really bad or good things," Robb said. "If you invest in this type of simulation before or early in the design process" of a construction project, it could be used to assess risks of improbable events before they happen, he said.