TRAINING AND SIMULATION
BREAKING: Army Aims to Deliver Key Training System 4 Years Early
LONDON — Top leaders in the Army are asking the office in charge of developing the service’s simulation technology to deliver its new Synthetic Training Environment four years earlier than planned.
Karen Saunders, program executive officer for simulation, training and instrumentation, said April 26 that the Army’s new training system — originally slated to be fielded in 2028 — now has a deadline of the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2024.
“I’m fairly confident we’re going to get there,” Saunders said at the IT2EC conference in London.
The Army Requirements Council signed off on the new start, which was then approved by the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Joseph M. Martin, she said during a panel discussion at Europe’s largest annual training and simulation confab.
The Army is pushing its program offices to deliver on its top six modernization programs as soon as possible. The priorities are: long-range fires, next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, the network, air and missile defense and soldier lethality. The Synthetic Training Environment falls under soldier lethality. Army Futures Command leaders have vowed to deliver 24 key weapon systems to soldiers by 2023.
Two of the 24 systems under that deadline are building blocks for the STE, the Integrated Visual Augmentation System Squad Immersive Trainer and the One World Terrain simulation software.
About one year ago, the Army moved the new training system’s deadline up a year to 2027, she said. Now, “they challenged us to deliver one [system] to one of our combat training centers by 2024,” she said.
“We’ve got great momentum with industry,” she said, noting that the next “touchpoint” — when soldiers have a chance to try prototypes and provide feedback — will come in about nine months.
To help PEO STRI get there, she has established a strike agile acquisition response team, or STAAR team, she said. “We’re leveraging this team, taking experts from across my PEO to look how to deliver our Synthetic Training Environment live capability almost four years early,” she added.
The STE trains soldiers in 12 different tasks, which include such skills as direct and indirect fires, she said.
“We’re looking at specific technologies and then figure out how we can pull the best of breed together so industry is allowed to compete at any one time,” she said, noting that the PEO is issuing contracts in three-month cycles to speed up the process.
Industry is expected to demonstrate their offerings three months later with soldiers being allowed to try them out to provide feedback, she said.
One such system in need of an update is the multiple integrated laser engagement system, MILES, a laser-tag type technology that has been widely used by the U.S. military, its allies and law enforcement, for several decades, to simulate live fire.
Saunders said PEO STRI is investigating a replacement technology “right now.”
It could be a laser-based or optical system, she noted. The system should be built so it can evolve with technology developments, she added.