I/ITSEC NEWS: Army Boosting Soldiers’ Electronic Warfare, Cyber Training

By Allyson Park
Visual representation of the Army's Synthetic Training Environment

U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center

ORLANDO – The Army is fine tuning its key training and simulation system by adding specialized fields such as intelligence gathering and electronic warfare, a senior service official said Nov. 28.

The Army is prioritizing training in electronic warfare, intelligence gathering and cyber warfare within its new Synthetic Training Environment, or STE, Doug Bush, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, said during at a fireside chat at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference in Orlando.

The STE “coordinates and synchronizes development of a range of different training tools, all with ... collected training at the division and higher levels, all on synthetic environments, all connected, all using the same data, all able to work together seamlessly,” he said.

Through live, virtual and constructive training environments, STE provides training services to individuals or large formations to “ground, dismounted and aerial platforms and command posts at the points of need,” according to Army documents. 

The Army’s Program Executive Office Simulations, Training and Instrumentation is taking a iterative approach to the system’s development, adding capabilities such as electronic warfare as it evolves.

“In our approach, we want to make things easy for our leaders, our commanders and our soldiers,” Bush said. The overall effort to modernize the Synthetic Training Environment is vast, including “everything from new training devices all the way up to mass collective training.”

The Army’s focus on providing training at an enhanced level for intelligence gathering and electronic warfare is “more important than ever” in the wake of potential adversaries rapidly expanding their own capabilities, he added.

The ability to train soldiers for intelligence gathering and electronic warfare “at a high level of fidelity” has always presented a unique challenge, he said.

“It's difficult to replicate those environments — always has been — and the other services have wrestled with the same challenge,” Bush said. “But we're on a path now to develop a new system to allow [intelligence] and electronic warfare people to train at a high level of fidelity in a simulated environment.”

Cyber also presents unique challenges in terms of training, he said.

“A persistent cyber training environment, again, is a very difficult thing to train,” Bush said. Replicating an environment that is actually challenging to an operator is exceedingly difficult due to the multifaceted and complex nature of the cyber domain, Bush said.

“It has always been a difficult one, but this new effort, I think, is making great strides to actually having a cyber training capability that is meaningful and challenging, and something we can adapt over time,” Bush said.

Along with modernizing many aspects of its training domain, the Army is also utilizing new tools for improved acquisitions, mainly by speeding up middle-tier acquisition processes and working toward government-developed software to supplement industry software. Going further, faster is the simplified main goal of the Army modernization plan, and streamlining the acquisition process will make a huge difference, he said.

The Army is looking to “not shorten, but accelerate a lot of the traditional processes in the department to actually get real things on contract with you, your industry that actually gets done,” Bush told industry members at the conference. “Cutting years out of the acquisition cycle is the goal of that system. I think we're gonna have some big successes coming up.”

In addition to accelerating the acquisition process, the Army is also working to build government-developed software to fit into already-existing industry software.

“It's the government trying to actually do software the way industry already does it,” Bush said. “We want to meet you where you already are.”

In this process, the Army will be approaching software “fundamentally differently” by utilizing a very streamlined process.

The process “focuses on getting initial code, initial products, in not a matter of years, but a matter of months, and then iterating on it indefinitely to keep up, which is how industry works,” Bush said. “It requires flexibility and very close working with our requirements partners ... to make sure that when we're doing this this fast, we are actually doing what soldiers want.”

Gen. Gary Brito, commanding general of Army Training and Doctrine Command, during the talk said, “We need to do it fast and continue to do it fast, one, to keep up with the pace of modernization, but more importantly, keep up and have that overmatch that we need as an Army and a joint force over our adversaries.”


As for TRADOC role, Brito said: “Waiting for doctrine to take a year and a half or more isn't going to work. Supporting an acquisition timeline that's going to take four or five, in the past, several years, isn't going to work because we need to maintain an overmatch over our adversaries.”

Bush said by focusing on modernizing its training domain and utilizing more efficient acquisition tools, the Army continues to prepare for the future fight in future environments.

“The plan is on track. We are doing well overall, but not without its challenges,” Bush said. “That's the big picture. The Army has committed serious resources to this, and it remains committed to it.” 

Meanwhile, soldier lethality continues to be a priority in training, Brito added.


“When … you enhance the lethality of the individual soldier. You improve the lethality of the collective training of the respective unit, you improve their performance when they go into a combat training center … Ultimately all those together, when an individual is part of the unit deploys, or organization deploys supporting a Joint Force operation anywhere in the world, he or she and that unit will be lethal. And that's what we want. They're going to fight, win and come back.”


Topics: Acquisition, Army News, Training and Simulation

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