TRAINING AND SIMULATION
Army to Ditch Legacy Training System for New Simulation Tech
The Army is working to develop new simulation technology that will replace the Instrumentable-Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System, service officials announced in March.
The Army plans to ditch I-MILES — which simulates the firing capabilities and vulnerabilities of dismounted troops, tactical vehicles and combat vehicles during training — for a new 3D training tool in the coming years, said Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, director of the synthetic training environment cross-functional team under Army Futures Command.
The synthetic training environment, or STE, is a training and mission rehearsal tool that brings together live, virtual, constructive and gaming environments to improve soldier and unit readiness.
The replacement of the legacy system is part of an effort to accelerate the STE in support of the Army’s modernization efforts, Gervais said at an Association of the United States Army event in March.
“We have been directed to focus on our direct fire — so think force-on-force — and replace our MILES capability,” she said.
The Army aims to improve direct fire and indirect fire capabilities in the synthetic environment within the next two to five years, she said.
The STE’s abbreviated capability development document — a record of the service’s position on developing a new capability — has been approved and soon will go before the Army Requirements Oversight Council, Gervais said.
Soldiers currently wear the I-MILES instrument that can be “shot” with a laser to mimic being fired on in a real battle.
The tool was established in the 1970s and is facing challenges as it approaches the end of its lifecycle in 2026, said Karen Saunders, program executive officer for simulation, training and instrumentation.
Officials plan to execute multiple other transaction authority agreements to begin exploring replacement options for I-MILES this year, she said.
“We need to start looking at investing in capabilities that we can bring to the force not only to replace I-MILES, but also to get at other training engagements that don’t exist today,” she said.
More realistic training simulations for direct and indirect fires will take the place of I-MILES. The old laser can’t reproduce the effects of weapons including grenade launchers or tank rounds, Col. Michael Simmering, commander of the operations group at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, explained.
Instrumentation systems at the training center can track individual actions and adjudicate weapons engagements for more realistic training, but soldiers cannot utilize them at the unit level, he noted.
“That capability, beyond direct fire contact, … [is] not really that robust at home station at this point,” he said. “That’s why our efforts to field the best training equipment possible that we can in the future is so critical.”
Gervais added that although the Army is focused on upgrading its synthetic and virtual training technology, live exercises are not going away.
“A lot of times, people will think that we’re trying to replace our live training environment with our virtuals. That’s not the case,” she said.
“Our virtual [trainings] are going to allow us to get the reps and sets so that as we go into a live training environment, we go in at a much higher level of proficiency.”