NATO Eyes Greater Use of Simulation-Based Training in Coalition Exercises

By Allyson Versprille
ORLANDO — The U.S. military and NATO allies must develop a more cohesive training strategy that uses simulation technology, officials said. “You cannot have a discussion about the fact that we’re going to fight as a coalition and not build systems that allow us to train as a coalition,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Williamson, military director for the Army acquisition corps in the office of the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.
Vice Adm. Javier Gonzalez-Huix, deputy chief of staff for joint force training at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, said modeling and simulation is a priority on NATO’s agenda. "We are exploring how to better include modeling and simulation in our individual and collective training," he said at the 2015 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference. His division is responsible for NATO education, training and exercises to ensure that the allied nations are prepared to deploy and operate together.  
“The alliance has not explored all possibilities of utilizing modeling and simulation,” he said. NATO surveyed its 28 member nations and concluded that there are a number of applications and training programs where modeling and simulation can make a difference, Gonzalez-Huix said. The alliance is looking to innovate and enhance education, individual training, collective training and joint exercises, he said.
“Industry and government will play a main role in ensuring that NATO navigates through the 21st century using modeling and simulation in support of training,” he said. This need for collaboration is why alliance officials were in attendance at I/ITSEC 2015, he added.
Denise Threlfall, director of international programs for the training and simulation conference, said about 1,700 to 2,000 attendees this year came from outside the United States. The conference organized several international panels and set up a networking lounge. Countries represented at the conference included Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, South Korea, Australia, Taiwan and Saudi Arabia.
The dialogue at the conference also enables partners to learn about cultural issues that can sometimes create barriers, said Threlfall, who works for Kratos Defense and Security Solutions.“A lot of people inside of the U.S. don’t even think about [that] until … they actually go overseas to do training and education programs globally.”
Other ways in which NATO interacts with industry and government is through joint exercises and initiatives, Gonzalez-Huix said.
“This year NATO has planned and executed multiple exercises covering a wide range of training objectives including five strategic-level exercises, multiple operational-level and single-service specialized exercises … and also many national exercises,” he said.
This fall the alliance completed its largest exercise since 1998, Trident Juncture 2015. “This exercise included 36,000 troops, 160 aircraft and 70 ships and submarines deployed from 30 nations,” he said.
NATO has established the “involvement of industry into NATO exercises,” or I3X initiative. It is designed to reach out to industry for expertise and perspective on modeling and simulation capabilities.
“After the Cold War, NATO was considered a redundant organization and nations began to reconsider the requirements for such an organization,” Gonzalez-Huix said. Now NATO is challenged more than ever. Its missions are diverse — from humanitarian missions and fighting terrorists in the Middle East, he said. “By working all together, bringing each of our skills, knowledge and capabilities to the table, we can assure our success and most importantly ensure that we prepare — to the best of our ability — the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who we place in harm’s way.”

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

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