Military Services Seek to Reduce Cost of Keeping Forces Ready to Fight
The most immediate cost-cutting measure will be to reduce flying hours and increase simulation-based training, said Vice Adm. David Dunaway, commander of Naval Air Systems Command.
Training pilots for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter demands more complicated environments and bigger training ranges, Dunaway said. “"We are just not going to be able to afford to train for these complex missions up and away. That's a future that we have to put into this modern simulation environment."
During the past decade, the services have made important advances in live, virtual, and constructive training, but the department still needs to make improvements, said Laura Junor, deputy assistant secretary of defense for readiness.
For example, some of the services are trying to procure more land for training, but finding enough space has been difficult, she said. "So is there a way that we can figure out how to either really or virtually link the ranges we have to simulate a much larger training range? Is there any way to do that cross continents to pull our international partners in?”
Cyber warfare is another area that is gaining attention. Although the Defense Department set up Cyber Command in 2009, the agency is still working on articulating what it means to be a "ready cyber force," Junor said. “We have to get much better at integrating cyber, both offensive and defensive cyber into our planning and into our training. The threat of cyber is inherent to every kind of warfare operation that we conduct."
In the coming years, the Department must also find ways keep motivation going during training, even though there may not be an enemy or war to fight.
“I’m afraid that we will have retention problems again,” Junor added. “Don't forget, it’s the best folks that tend to have options, and keeping quality recruits coming in and retaining those that we need is going to be an important part going forward.”
In order to help solve these issues, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter set up the Deputy’s Management Action Group in 2011. Junor said the group is “trying desperately to allocate what resources we have against way too many important competing needs."
Photo Credit: U.S. Navy