SNA News: U.S. Must Bolster, Upgrade Training Facilities to Counter China

By Yasmin Tadjdeh
Airmen take part in a training mission at the Joint Pacific Range Complex near Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.

Public Domain

Countering China will require major investments and upgrades in training facilities for both the Joint Force and coalition partners, said the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Jan. 12.

“The most effective way to combat the security challenges we face in today's challenging operating environment is through a continuous campaign of joint experimentation and high-fidelity multi-domain training,” said Adm. Philip Davidson. “To accomplish this, we are pursuing the development of a joint network of live, virtual and constructive ranges in key locations around the region.”

LVC technology combines real-world exercises, virtual reality and computer-generated entities into one environment.

The U.S. military’s current ranges and test and training facilities are built separately by each service and are often not used to train forces but to test new capabilities, Davidson said during remarks at the Surface Navy Association’s annual conference, which was hosted virtually this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

They “rarely have the joint force in mind, rarely have truly multi-domain capability in mind as well,” he said.

These facilities are not enabled or funded to facilitate joint training in a multi-domain environment and that must change, he noted.

“The Joint Force absolutely has to have the ability to advance capability at scale, through accessible, large scale, all-domain and integrative ranges to support critical joint and combined training and exercises,” he said.

Indo-Pacific Command is home, and in close proximity to, numerous service and national training, testing and operational ranges and testing facilities, Davidson said. Within the continental United States, these include the Western Range at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California; the Pacific Missile Test Center at Point Mugu, California; the Nevada Test and Training Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada; the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California; and Fallon Range Training Complex in Fallon, Nevada.

Outside of the continental United States is the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, Alaska; the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Hawaii; Pōhakuloa Training Area, Hawaii; and the Reagan Test Site, Marshall Islands, Davidson said.

“Think about the power of that network of branches and what they might bring to the Joint Force,” he said.

Accurately presenting a picture of the threat — what Davidson called “orange” forces — will require a live, virtual and constructive netted capability. Currently, the training facilities cannot “fully stress” F-22 and F-35 pilots, he said.

Additionally, it is not only the Joint Force that must participate, Davidson said. “Integrated U.S. training ranges in the region with allied ranges in Japan and Australia will allow us to advance joint and combined capability and capacity in a fully instrumented LVC proving ground,” he said.

An integrated U.S. and coalition force that regularly demonstrates multi-domain operations with each other presents new challenges and dilemmas to potential adversaries, Davidson said.

“Indeed, the joint range network I'm talking about provides us with the ability to reveal certain capabilities we want our adversaries to see, but it would allow us to conceal the things we do not want them to see as well.”


Topics: Training and Simulation

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