Looking Back at Last 16 Years as NTSA President

By Fred Lewis
My first year at the helm of the National Training and Simulation Association in 1995 was a turbulent time for the industry. Political leadership allowed the government to shut down for the first time in history and its representatives couldn’t travel to the Albuquerque, N.M., Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference.

In spite of this adversity, we carried on with I/ITSEC 1995 and had another successful event.
I/ITSEC 1995 had particular significance for me because it was my first in-depth exposure to the industry as president of NTSA. I was deeply impressed by the array of companies involved in the enterprise, by the state-of-the-art technologies on display and by the commitment to excellence by all participants.

We have built on the technology development that I observed in 1995 and have made significant strides in enhancing the believability of our simulations. This is key to the success we have enjoyed as we responded to the changing requirements from the customer base, which were the result of different threats, operational environments and capabilities that have been strongly influenced by the increased processing power of computers and networks.

The industry has been blessed by tremendous agility and creativity in its responsiveness to meet warfighter requirements. Today, our constituent base includes other domains. These new fields now embrace modeling and simulation as a way to train, analyze, forecast, explore and develop. Manufacturing, financial analysis, meteorology, oil and gas exploration, transportation, education, architectural design, communication and aerospace industrial design are some of the domains where modeling and simulation has become a critical component of progress and success. In the healthcare field, the technology has experienced an explosion of growth and acceptance.

The single greatest challenge to our industry is work force development. In 2001, we began to offer a credentialing service with the certified M&S professional program. We instituted over the past 16 years the Future Leaders Pavilion, America’s Teachers at I/ITSEC, Serious Games Showcase, and the Student Tours program, which have all proven to be highly successful in helping us to achieve our objectives of education and inspiration. We have only just begun to exploit the significant potential that modeling and simulation has throughout the education field.
I am confident that by leveraging new developments and by using new organizations such as the National Modeling and Simulation Coalition we will be able to make the next great technological leap forward.

In my view, that leap will take us to an environment where the use of virtual worlds will be commonplace in our society. They will be so because they will be accessible to all, and the immersion of participants into the simulation will be complete. There will be total suspension of disbelief, and the virtual worlds will exist according to the participant’s desires. Farfetched? Perhaps, but if we can build virtual worlds today with limited capability, then it is not too much of a stretch to envision this kind of advancement 20 to 30 years hence.

I most strongly believe that the future is bright for our community of practice. As the nation’s wars overseas recede into history and our troops return home, the reliance on the capabilities that modeling and simulation technologies can provide will significantly increase on the part of the Department of Defense.

New policies within the department dictate that training will increasingly be conducted at home stations, where the lack of adequate facilities will require that key activities be simulated. There will be greater demand for higher fidelity simulations as units seek to maintain the readiness levels required in an unstable and uncertain world.

There will be no end to the requirement that our industry provide training systems to meet the demand. I am confident that we in the community can meet this challenge. After all, we have done precisely that since 1995.

Retired Navy Rear Adm. Fred Lewis is stepping down as president of NTSA on June 1.
He will be replaced by Rear Adm. James A. Robb. A veteran Navy combat pilot, Robb served as officer in command of TOPGUN, the Navy Fighter Weapons School. Navy staff flag assignments included service as the director of Aviation Plans and Requirements and as director of Fleet Readiness. Since retirement, Robb has been an independent consultant, specializing in strategic planning, joint operations and defense acquisition reform.

Topics: Business Trends, Doing Business with the Government, Government Policy, Simulation Modeling Wargaming and Training, ComputerBased Training, Live Training

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