Editor’s Note: This article was penned by Booz Allen Hamilton Vice President Cameron Mayer and Director David Roberts. Aligning with key conversations being had at vIITSEC, Mayer and Roberts elaborate on the importance of tools like open architecture, edge computing, and AI in the multi-domain battlespace. While seeing these concepts applied in-theater is now more common, Mayer and Roberts call for more robust adoption of these technologies at the training level as well. Read their full perspective below:
When preparing for a mission, many elements can impact the course of action: weather patterns, adversarial interference, geographical topography and terrain, and the presence of friendly forces. Then there are the electromagnetic, cyber, information, and electronic warfare interferences the eye cannot see. When these elements are not represented realistically and accurately in training scenarios, warfighters are left training in a simulation that does not accurately represent real-world scenarios in which they’ll need to make decisions quickly.
In-person training has long been viewed as the most viable and effective method – but it can be logistically challenging to assemble large groups of trainees and instructors, especially in the context of the current global pandemic. Yet, simulated scenarios of the recent past often fall short of reflecting the complexity of the modern battlespace—and lack the ability to measure and deliver real-time performance feedback to guide critical improvements.
How do we create large-scale, multi-domain scenarios that feel realistic and give warfighters the in-training feedback they need to improve—quickly, cost effectively, and with the security and resiliency that classified missions demand?
Just as advanced technologies are transforming the modern battlespace, they can also help us train warfighters for it. There are powerful ways to make advanced training a reality by applying innovations like edge computing, open and connected secure architectures, and smart capabilities like AI to help our future force improve readiness and achieve mission success.
Delivering data and connections where they’re needed
In today’s multifaceted digital battlespace, warfighters must make near-instant decisions and relay them to human and robotic teammates. Training scenarios need to help warriors hone these capabilities in realistic ways, supporting multiple scenario options where teammates can train, plan, and rehearse together in specific environments against various challenges. Open architectures support the integrated technology solutions that make such training possible.
Open architectures allow a swifter delivery of mission-specific exercises to the point of need. They enable the integration of new applications into training exercises and across converging technologies. The latter is particularly critical as some defense leaders believe a lack of technology integration, and the complications that result, puts warfighters at risk of de-training for the mission at-hand.
Smart capabilities for measuring, automating, and replicating
By facilitating data-sharing across a multicomponent system, open architectures also support performance improvement. With AI and analytics, users can quantify training objectives and measure how warfighters react in given exercises, such as biometrics that measure reaction to stress in a high-pressure environment.
Organizations can also combine AI’s automation capabilities with virtual reality to replicate integrated environments and multiple attack methods for enhanced situational accuracy. This approach helps ensure warfighters are training against the scenario and not a static, immersive construct—as the warfighter improves, the construct can adapt and change.
As with open architecture, these “smart capabilities” are taking root throughout the Armed Forces. The DoD is developing AI-enabled systems as part of the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concept to improve operational effectiveness across domains, including the build-out of government-owned APIs. Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Aviation and Missile Center is developing a Systems Simulation, Software, and Integration Directorate (AvMC S3I) to improve human performance within the Army and elsewhere.
Enhancing readiness to lead the future of warfare
The future battlespace will only become more saturated with integrated, complex systems and threats from multiple sources. Training will need to keep pace using enhanced technologies to deliver comparably complex simulations. As these technologies mature and intersect on the battlefield, so must we employ at-the-edge processing, open architectures, and smart capabilities like AI, machine learning, and VR—underpinned by secure and resilient systems—to win tomorrow’s battles.
By creating realistic experiences that utilize converging technologies, our armed services and allies can deliver mission-specific training experiences at the point-of-need, augmenting live simulations. Such solutions offer great potential to elevate force readiness, enhance warfighter capabilities, and increase lethality and survivability for the mission at hand.
You can learn more about Booz Allen’s efforts in enhancing warfighter readiness here.
Cameron Mayer is a Booz Allen vice president and leader of the firm’s Digital Simulation and Training Solutions team within the Defense digital business, delivering technical strategy and solutions for clients.
David Roberts is a Booz Allen director and leader of the firm’s Army Digital Simulation and Training Solutions team, focused on how the convergence of Digital technologies will transform Simulation & Training.