TRAINING AND SIMULATION
Army Kicks Off Simulation and Gaming 'Feedback Sprint'
The Army launched an industry day and “feedback sprint” May 8 to gather feedback from industry for a forthcoming program to manage the service’s training systems.
The National Security Technology Accelerator, or NSTXL, and the Training and Readiness Accelerator are working alongside the service to host the event which is taking place at the AT&T Executive Education Conference Center in Austin, Texas, from May 8-11, said Tim Greeff, CEO of the NSTXL, an Arlington, Virginia-based nonprofit that partners with the Pentagon to rapidly deliver emerging technologies.
The Army currently employs a wide range of training solutions, including its synthetic training environment that brings live-virtual-constructive and gaming training technologies together. It is now looking for ways to improve the enterprise management of these systems.
The service plans to release a white paper in the coming weeks, but first is seeking input from industry to inform requirements via a “feedback sprint,” Greeff said.
“When the military is pushing out a requirement to a group of industry players — and in particular industry players that haven’t traditionally done business with the military before — the problem statement isn’t always geared toward getting the right solutions,” he told National Defense several days before the event kicked off.
The Army wants to eventually deliver training content from the cloud to the soldier at the point of need by utilizing the Pentagon’s information and operational networks. The service wants to work with companies that have experience developing synthetic environments, commercial and military gaming solutions, training management tools orsoftware architectures, according to NSTXL.
The industry day and feedback sprint is a way for industry to take a crack at the issue, discuss it, kick ideas around and start to come up with a solution set, Greeff said.
NSTXL expects to have more than 100 attendees, all representing various companies, go to the industry day and more than 60 participants attend the subsequent feedback sprint, he said.
Once the event is completed, the organization will deliver the results to the Army in less than 24 hours, he said. The service is then expected to release a solicitation in the coming weeks, with an award taking place in June or July.
“We’re typically able to go from solicitation to contract in about 60 days,” Greeff said.
NSTXL has been working to bring in nontraditional companies, he noted.
“We are proactively reaching out to companies that quite frankly have no real interest in competing for government requirements, but they do like to solve problems like any good innovator does,” he said.
NSTXL manages a series of other transaction authorities and is an open-source platform, Greeff added. Often times, OTA consortia require membership to participate, but NSTXL posts all of its requirements on its website and utilizes a broad network of experts to help solve the military’s problems, he added.
For the Army’s training and simulation needs, NSTXL has reached out to a number of companies that do not traditionally work with the government, he said.
For some companies “the government is probably the 10th most attractive business partner based on the demand of the private sector, particularly for things like gaming technologies, augmented reality, virtual reality,” he said.
Smaller companies can be wary to work with the government because of cumbersome acquisition red tape where it can sometimes take two years to field a technology, he said. “Startups can’t tolerate those timelines,” he added.
“But in this particular arena with gaming technology — and you see it in artificial intelligence and robotics — it’s such a hot industry that all of the sudden, the DoD is not just competing against other governments, it’s competing against the private sector," he said. "Google, Facebook, other companies are buying up this tech."
Industry and government can often speak different languages, he said. The Army recognizes this and is using events like the feedback sprint to better reach out to companies, Greeff said.