U.S. Army Forces Commander: Training and Simulation Critical to Readiness

By Yasmin Tadjdeh

ORLANDO, Fla. — As the military faces a “very difficult fiscal environment,” simulation training to maintain troop readiness will be imperative, said Gen. Mark Milley, commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command.

"We must do more than simply train. We must have realistic exercises that test our soldiers' and leaders' combat instincts and prepare them for the friction, the intensity and horrors of ground combat,"

Milley said Dec. 2 at the annual Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference.

Combat readiness is the number one priority at Army Forces Command, Milley said. “There is no other number one except for preparation for war.” 

Following funding cuts in the military over the past two years, the Army has seen readiness adversely affected, he said. However, using technology that simulates everything from driving a ground combat vehicle to flying a fighter jet can help soldiers maintain readiness, he said.

“As the battlefield becomes more complex and events happen more rapidly, we must leverage simulation tools and gaming mechanisms,” he said. “We must continue to be on the cutting edge of the simulation world.”

The United States faces a range of threats across the globe, he said. They span from Northeast Asia and the South China Sea to Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Many of these threats are sophisticated in nature.  Additionally, there are 22 armed ongoing conflicts globally, he noted. 

The military and industry must “expand our training options across the entire spectrum of war. And we need to do this now. And we need to do this in a time of fiscal constraint,” he said.

Innovation can still happen even though there is a budget downturn, he noted. He pointed to engineers in the 1990s, that while facing steep budget cuts, developed unmanned aerial vehicle technology. B-24 and B-17 bombers were both developed during the Great Depression. 

“I ask that you continue that innovative spirit and that you stick with us through these trying financial times. To work with us as a team,” Milley told members of industry. “We must prepare soldiers and their leaders for the next conflict.”

The Korean War is an example of what can happen when soldiers are not properly trained, he said. Following the crossing of the 38th parallel by the North Koreans in 1950, the United States deployed Army forces from the 21st infantry regiment to counter the invasion. While it was only a few years after World War II, the Army was not prepared, he added.

“Here it is 1950 and 80,000 [North] Koreans are approaching the 21st infantry. Our Army had been reduced. Our Army was hollow. Our Army’s funding was lacking. Our readiness was not a priority,” Milley said. “The units were not manned. They didn’t have sufficient equipment and the equipment they did have was broken. So, not surprising, and despite a valiant effort and incredible heroism … they were annihilated.”

Putting warfighters into combat without proper training and equipment “is unacceptable in any era,” he said.

Topics: Simulation Modeling Wargaming and Training, ComputerBased Training, Live Training, Videogames

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