Military Will Increasingly Rely on Simulations During Budget Crunch
Readiness goes down once troops leave the country, so the services will need simulators to keep training fresh during deployments, said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Glenn Walters during a Dec. 4 keynote speech at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference.
“It has got to be smaller. It has got to be transportable. It has got to be cheap, because we're going to have forces spread out all over,” he said.
Walters also called on contractors to create training for leaders on decision-making skills so that when commanders encounter real-life scenarios where troops are in danger, they can use experiences or processes learned during simulations.
“That's going to be difficult, because I think if I brought every general and flag officer on the stage, we'd all have a slightly different thought process on how to get to the same end state, and all of them could be correct,” he said.
Such training would help save lives and make the force more combat effective, which he said is especially important with a smaller force forecasted for the coming decade. Additionally, increasing the use of simulations will be pivotal during a more austere fiscal climate with reduced funding for training and operations, he added.
"We have a moral obligation as leaders to make sure that those soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that we send forward are ready,” Walters said. Simulation “is the one key to get us there at the best bang for the buck, no doubt in my mind."
Echoing the importance of cost savings, the program manager of the Marine Corps training systems referenced the “power of innovation” theme of the conference.
"The other way to think about innovation is being innovative in the how much we pay for things, how much we pay for different types of training systems and simulators,” said Col. Michael Coolican. "It's not just innovation on the technology side, it's innovation in what we can afford and how we spend our money."
At the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the military struggled with a shortfall of joint tactical air controllers (JTAC). Because training for JTACs is expensive, simulators helped to offset the cost, Walters said. "Our JTAC training is on track. About a third of their training is now done on a simulator. Personally, I think it needs to get up to 50 percent."
Without the proper training and simulators, he estimated the military would have seen two or three times the casualties.
Photo Credit: U.S. Navy