By Derek Kaufman , 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 07, 2010
ORLANDO, Fla. --
A panel of senior Department of Defense and service component leaders acknowledged Nov. 30, 2010, that an uncertain, fluid international security environment demands new thinking and approaches to meeting training and simulation requirements for future joint warfighters.
While each service has its own unique training and education requirements, there was universal agreement that the nation's military must be ready to respond jointly to the full spectrum of threats ranging from counterinsurgencies, international terrorism and failed states, to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, environmental threats and pandemic diseases, to large force-on-force conventional conflict and cyber attack.
Along with these challenges exists the imperative to balance many competing priorities in a constrained budget environment, possibly on a downward slope. Operations and maintenance, training, personnel programs, healthcare, research & development, modernization and Base Closure and Realignment Commission implementation are all important. Ongoing and new efforts to replace aging equipment, desire to refresh systems to keep pace with rapidly changing technology, and the need to meet DOD energy goals to reduce demand for petroleum all combine to require new questions to be asked, and new approaches and solutions to be discovered.
Some may be found, leaders said, by tapping into the personal and professional talent and experiences of the new digital generation of young Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen. Incorporating innovative approaches in their training and education, advanced computer-based training, integrated immersive simulation and advance gaming technologies require focus and investment today, with potential for huge payoff in joint capabilities tomorrow, panelists said.
The leaders were also in agreement that solutions will certainly require close collaboration between government, industry and the academic world.
The discussions took place at I/ITSEC, the Interservice/Industry Training Simulation and Education Conference, the largest annual international gathering of modeling and simulation technology experts from U.S. and foreign governments, industry and academia.
Panel members were Frank DiGiovanni, director, Readiness and Training Policy and Programs, Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Readiness); Rear Adm. Joseph Kilkenny, commander, Naval Education and Training command; Rear Adm. Vincent Atkins, assistant commandant for Capability, U.S. Coast Guard; Maj. Gen. Raymond Fox, commanding general, Training and Education Command, U.S. Marine Corps; Maj. Gen. Stephen Layfield, director, Joint Warfighting Center, Joint Forces Command; Gordon Ettenson, acting director of Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force; and Brig. Gen. Richard Longo, deputy chief of staff, Training and Doctrine Command, U.S. Army.
Here are some of the panels observations:
Mr. DiGiovanni said the services need to make a "human capital development" investment and create new tools to educate a cadre of "soft power warriors" to more dynamically address counterinsurgencies. Armed with skill sets in culture, language, cross-cultural negotiation and civil affairs, they can work with local populations and other government agencies to win hearts and minds. He also challenged industry to develop "post-conflict tools" to smoothly prepare the transition of combat veterans to civilian society.
In an uncertain world, the Department is focusing on adaptability and how to move from a construct of lessons learned to lessons anticipated, Mr. DiGiovanni said.
The concept is akin to outthinking the enemy, rather than outreacting, and can be applied across the full range of military operations.
It is very much an effort to "deny the adversary the ability to adapt to you," Mr. DiGiovanni said.
"We are changing the model," said General Longo. "We know we have to do it differently. ... We must learn faster than our enemies."
General Longo remarked that traditional instructor and materiel delivery of briefings is no longer the preferred way to develop future masters of Army doctrine.
"We are going to be learner centric," he said. "Some students will learn best by reading, some students will learn best by computer, others may want face to face tutoring."
He added a need to deliver to the "gaps of the individual learner so that before they ever enter the classroom every student has met the doctrinal objective." Then instead of the instructor preaching via PowerPoint, he or she "throws a problem on the table and asks the students to solve the problem just as they would in the real world."
The Army has learned a lot in ten years of counterinsurgency operations, said General Layfield. "We have evolved. ... We have achieved a certain level of joint operational maturity right now, in these 10 years."
The service needs to capture and retain that knowledge and translate it to develop other core competencies to strengthen full spectrum capabilities, he said.
"We cannot leave ten years of learning, ten years of growth, ten years of evolution, ten years of technological advance, ten years of consortium building; we cannot leave that behind," said General Layfield. "It has to go back to the corners of training at home station, technology, (Combat Training Centers), wherever we train."
"Our training enables the Navy to be a global force for good," said Admiral Kilkenny. "The demand for exemplary training has never been higher."
The admiral said the investment in innovative education and training is needed, but it must be done smartly.
"No matter what the cost, the realities of today are we must make some difficult budget decisions. ... When we buy a system, we must ensure training is developed in parallel," he said.
Admiral Kilkenny underscored the unpredictability of threats today and into the future, noting there are "multiple foes that are not only difficult to find in the field, but might not be in the field at all. They might be in cyberspace."
Cyber security and network operations training are important and growing mission areas, and the Navy is partnering with companies like Cisco and Microsoft to ensure its cyber warriors are up to the task.
U.S. Marine Corps
General Fox told the story of a platoon of Marines on patrol that suddenly faces a sophisticated, well-coordinated ambush by Taliban fighters. The Taliban have proven not only tenacious and resilient fighters, but highly adaptable to coalition tactics. Despite the Marine's discipline, training and advanced technology, the odds are not every Marine will come out of that fight unscathed.
"Every time it happens, I wonder if we did enough training, and the right training to make sure that they would be successful on that patrol," General Fox said.
Looking to the future, the Marines are planning for what comes after Afghanistan. They are asking industry and academia to research and explore deeper into human behavior, understanding how to make better leaders and disciplined fighters that are more resilient to the stresses of combat.
"Why is it two individuals in the same situation see something horrific happen ... and one person comes back showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and the other does not? How do you train individuals to be more resilient, to accept the horrors of war when they see them first hand? Can we identify and recruit that Marine squad leader who will be resilient from day one, or can we recruit and train one who is not resilient and make him resilient?" General Fox asked.
Marines have become very good at fighting counterinsurgency, but that is one of many mission areas and combined arms warfighting skills are perishable. Looking ahead, they must be ready and trained to fight across the full range of military operations.
Ultimately, "are there enough hours in a day to train that squad leader and platoon commander to fight in every spectrum of warfare? That will be our challenge," General Fox said.
U.S. Air Force
The migration of training in airspace to the "synthetic battlespace" is already well underway, said Gordon Ettenson. It needs to happen for a number of reasons.
"Flying hour reductions, airspace and range limitations, restrictive engagement envelops, fuel saving initiatives, weapon system advancements and shrinking budgets" are some of the challenges Airmen face. "So it is imperative that we train and prepare and present forces faster and smarter because we simply cannot afford not to," Mr. Ettenson said.
Efficiency requirements necessitate that the Air Force look for more cost effective ways to train and prepare, he said.
The Air Force already is incorporating complex distributed operations and simulations which bring together joint and coalition forces from many different locations for highly realistic training. The advantages of training in the synthetic environment are many. It can be done securely and without being observed by potential adversaries. It doesn't put flying hours on actual airframes or burn fuel. And it allows systems be employed to their full operational capabilities virtually.
"Now our next step is to integrate the live piece. We are bringing together the virtual and constructive training environment," Mr. Ettenson said.
The concept places live aircraft flying in actual training ranges with others at distributed locations around the world flying along virtually.
U.S. Coast Guard
Having responsibilities in both the warfighting and law enforcement domains presents unique challenges for the Coast Guard, said Admiral Atkins.
"Law enforcement, search and rescue, environmental enforcement, environmental regulation, safety -- how do you take all of those lessons learned in a wartime setting and transition them here home?" Admiral Atkins asked. "If you think it doesn't apply you only have to read this morning's newspaper about a young man up in the northwest who is threatening to blow up a Christmas celebration in a downtown environment. The war is here.
"How do we prepare our maritime security in advance of that war and how do we anticipate the threat? How do we calculate the risk, and how do we balance our limited resources in terms of meeting the threat here at home? That is the challenge," the Admiral said.
Modeling, simulation and gaming tools are needed for Coast Guardsmen to address missions ranging from a Hurricane Katrina-like response, or spill response in the Gulf of Mexico, or a container ship with suspected weapons of mass destruction, or a fast boat approaching a high-value Navy vessel being escorted to its port, Admiral Atkins said.