Navy Looking at Simulation to Reduce Personnel Costs, Shorten Training

By Allyson Versprille

 ORLANDO — The Navy needs to take advantage of simulations to reduce personnel costs and shorten the amount of time service members spend in training, a top service official said Dec. 1.

“The training that we’re providing from boot camp all the way to the fleet and beyond has to fundamentally change, and the culture of the Navy training programs have to fundamentally change,” said Vice Adm. Bill Moran, chief of naval personnel. 

“The only way we’re going to be able to afford buying future weapon systems of many different types,” is by reducing overall personnel costs, he said during a keynote address at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference.

There are two ways to accomplish that goal, he noted. “You can reduce the salaries and the benefits that come with military service — and none of us want to go there — or you can bring fewer people in, keep more of them along the way and get more out of what you train them to do.”

Today the Navy has almost 33,000 sailors in training on any given day out of a total force of 326,000. Simulation would be a good tool to alleviate some of the congestion that exists within the training pipeline, he said.   

Such technologies not only reduce costs compared to expensive live training practices, but shorten the time that service members spend in those programs. They provide personnel with more intuitive and modern systems, he said.

“Their access to information, their ability to learn, gaming — all of the things that [industry] is looking at — are the methods by which young men and women learn, and yet we are slow to get to that level in our own training programs,” Moran said. It “makes it very difficult for someone who joins what they hope is going to be a modern organization that’s able to fight and win at any place around the globe, only to come in and find out that they’re training on a valve or electrical circuit that was built in 1957.”

One of the improvements the Navy is asking industry to consider is increased modularity, or having the ability to change a system to correlate to different training stages and levels. Such a capability would reduce learning time significantly, Moran said.

Mobility is another key component, he noted. The training capability, platforms and systems have to be easily delivered and accessible to sailors wherever they are stationed, he said.

Cyber threats also need to be looked at through the lens of simulation, he said. “The challenges of cyber space in this regime are not insignificant,” he noted. While future forces might fight kinetic operations 1,000 miles away from the enemy, electronic and cyber warfare will bring sailors face-to-face with the adversary, he said.

The Navy is interested in simulations that “introduce the idea of stress and fear and fighting hurt into our training systems,” Moran said. Service members need to learn not only how to protect information, but also how to operate in degraded settings when systems have been compromised, he noted.

One of the service’s main priorities moving forward will be live, virtual, constructive training, which has the potential for huge returns on investment if common standards across all four services can be reached, Moran said.

Progress producing those standards has been slower than desired, he said. “We’ve got to get together and agree to get to common standards so that we can drive the cost down, drive the commonality across all of the platforms up and really get the benefit of what live, virtual, constructive can bring to the DoD.”

The services need to embrace simulation technologies in training programs to ensure that the U.S. military remains industry’s top priority customer, Moran added.  

“I’m concerned about the fact that the commercial world is starting to see the value of simulation in training their own workforce and utilizing that,” he said. “Before long, [industry will] look elsewhere and not to DoD.”

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

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