I/ITSEC NEWS: Pentagon Wants Services to Step Up Cooperation on High-Tech Training

By Connie Lee

Photo: Navy

ORLANDO, Fla. — As the military services work toward integrating more simulators and virtual technologies into their training, the Office of the Secretary of Defense is looking for ways to provide them strategic guidance.

It is important for the services to ensure that their work is interoperable with each other as they pursue these technologies, Fred Drummond, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force education and training in the office of the assistant secretary of defense for readiness, said Dec. 3.

“We have to be interoperable,” he said during the annual Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference in Orlando, Florida. “Everything we do now, I believe must be based on that vision that it has be interoperable.” The conference is hosted by the National Training and Simulation Association, an affiliate of the National Defense Industrial Association.

The services need to have databases that will provide all services with the same threats and virtual worlds, he said. For instance, the Army's “one world geodatabase” would allow all services to virtually operate in the same areas, he noted.

“We cannot have … a Marine helicopter training scenario synched up with an Army scenario and the Marine helicopter lands 10 feet underground in that Army context,” he said.

Drummond said he envisions these as government-furnished equipment.

“I don't care what company produces this stuff,” he said. “I just need, from an operator standpoint, the folks in uniform who are using these simulators … all working on the same data.”

So far, the services have proceeded with these synthetic environment programs without strategic guidance from OSD, he noted. For example, the Army is pursuing a synthetic training environment through one of the cross-functional teams it has set up to pursue its top modernization priorities.

“We absolutely are behind them,” Drummond said. “The services have not waited for OSD, nor should they have when they are dealing with challenges to increase capabilities. So therefore we have programs that are put in place and developed over the years, but they happen from a service-centric standpoint.”

Drummond said his office may put out strategic guidance documents on the topic. However, he did not outline potential publication dates “because it takes 18 to 24 months to actually publish or update DoD instruction, which kind of speaks to our business transformation challenges.”

Navy Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller III, commander of naval air forces, said the Navy is working on interoperability as well. The services have been working on integrated command and control as a combined priority, and “we'll continue to see that level of cooperation in integrating, migrate all the way into our acquisition processes as we move forward.”

Historically, for the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, it has been "give us one problem and we’ll come up with three different solutions,” he said.

Air Force Maj. Gen. James Jacobson, director of training and readiness and deputy chief of staff for operations, said interoperability is being pursued through the joint synthetic environment, which allows services to test facets of these technologies.

“We also have this entity called the joint synthetic environment,” he noted. “I see us leveraging that to the broader common environment.”

Topics: Training and Simulation

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