I/ITSEC 2021 has now come to a close and after a week of panels, discussions, expositions, and demonstrations there is a lot to discuss. From the future of simulation technology to the role of VR/AR/MR/XR in training, attendees learned more about what the industry has been working on in the last year. Perhaps more important, however, were the insights shared from service leaders about their military training priorities and how industry can support them.
Quoted in the show daily, Capt. Dan Covelli, Commanding Officer Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD), noted how “U.S. Navy Training is in a state of transition.” Reflecting on his nearly two-decade run in the Navy, Covelli has observed the many ways that training has evolved. “How the Navy conducted training back in 1994 when I entered the Navy, with how it is currently conducted and where it’s going tomorrow” is radically different thanks to disruptive technologies providing more ways for the warfighter to train.
While the many ways that simulators and other innovative training technologies are readily apparent, Col. Matthew Leard, Director of Pilot Training Transformation at Headquarters Nineteenth Air Force, Joint Base San Antonio, noted that there is a central question that must be answered: What problem does this tech seek to provide an answer for? Leard sees two main ways that industry can leverage simulations to benefit the warfighter, with the first being quality of training. “First, while we are still and have always produced the world’s highest-trained pilots, we know that won’t be enough for the possible next fight… What training are we providing so that we can get to a higher quality in a certain amount of time?”
The second is to address the need for a larger range of training solutions to fit the training needs of this generation’s warfighter. “As a matter of fact, we’re not producing the number of pilots that we need to fill the cockpits to be able to win that next flight. So, for both of these efforts, we need to use innovation – either are new technologies or just new programs – to train in pilots in different ways.” This need for varied training applies to more than just aviation recruits, each branch sees a need for varied approaches to simulations, including ways to train beyond vehicle operators.
Speaking at a session during the show, U.S. Marine Corps Major General Julian Alford opened up about the need for simulation training for Marine infantry, as they look for solutions to make sure those warfighters are ready to operate in the next fight. “The simulators we have for aviation way outpace what we are doing for our infantry, but we’re changing that.” Among those changes are VR/AR/MR/XR training programs “where the Marine is having to operate under stress with loud explosions, lights going on and off, and so forth.”
Alford noted that the Corps has three facilities where infantry Marines are training with this technology, two in the east and one in the west. There, military training priorities are largely around providing a higher quality of fidelity in the simulations itself which, according to Alford, “is something we will continue to ping industry on to make it more realistic.”
Ultimately, Principal Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology) and Director, Army Acquisition Corps, Lieutenant General Robert L. Marion provided his own take on the current and future military training priorities. Specifically, Marion reflected on the scope and impact of training, saying at a Senior Leadership Event that “the focus for our Army when it comes to training [is] about building blocks. It’s about cohesive, lethal, well-led small units, and that’s how we build combat capability in our Army” into the future.
Covelli, Leard, Alford, and Marion all stressed that the need is there for their warfighters to be trained and that they know their industry partners are ready, willing, and able to assist. However, they all expressed that events like I/ITSEC should not be the only time that industry and military come together to share their latest tech and top needs. There are many ways that both can coordinate and create a system that trains warfighters and prepares them to succeed today, tomorrow, and far into the future.
To learn more about I/ITSEC 2021, click here.