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Defense Forum Breakfast Provides Opportunity for Updates from Service Leads
TOPICS & CATEGORIES
By Dolly Rairigh Glass
The Combined Professional Associations Group (CPAG) hosted its annual Defense Forum Breakfast on Friday, Jan. 11, giving the attendees in the filled-to-capacity room, the opportunity to hear from each of the Service leads and learn about some of their upcoming challenges, as well as goals for the upcoming year and beyond.
Pictured from left to right are Rob Reyenga, Deputy Program Executive Officer for the U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD), Commanding Officer, Capt. Steven Nakagawa, Colonel Michael Coolican, Program Manager Training Systems, Marine Corps System Command, and Colonel Marcus Boyd, Commander, Air Force Agency for Modeling and Simulation. U.S. Navy Photo/Doug Schaub
With budget uncertainty facing our nation, and the impending decisions surrounding defense cuts weighing heavy on the minds of the nation’s modeling and simulation capital, the topic was high on the list for everyone, and each of the speakers, through their own presentations, addressed their status today, and what might be the expectations as they move forward.
Rob Reyenga, Deputy Program Executive Officer for the U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), jumped right into his key points for the morning, and in his opening statement confirmed what he thought most already knew: our Army is moving away from being a pipeline of forces flowing into the Middle East and we’re reducing our footprint in Southwest Asia.
With U.S. troops essentially out of Iraq and moving out of Afghanistan, the Army is looking at what the nation might ask of them in the next two to 10 years, and how they will resource it given the fiscal constraints the nation is facing. Reyenga said the impact to PEO STRI will be critical, as the Army will continue to have significant training demands, and in fact, increased training demands at homestation.
Rob Reyenga, Deputy Program Executive Officer, PEO STRI. U.S. Navy Photo/Doug Schaub
“The Army will move to a 24-month Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) model, which means that Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) will take about 12 months to go through a reset and train cycle,” Reyenga said. “Then they’ll spend 12 months in an available pool to either deploy to combat or be available to support other worldwide contingencies.”
From a training perspective, BCTs have 12 months to get back up to speed, and complete whatever kind of equipment modernization that’s needed, which leaves a maximum of nine months of training that culminates with a Combat Training Center (CTC) rotation.
“If you think about the individual and crew level training, live fire qualifications, company and battalion CTX and FTX that’s needed,” Reyenga said, “and all that culminating with a brigade level training rotation at one of the CTCs within a nine month period, you can quickly see what the demand on all the training devices and training services at that homestation would be to get a BCT through that kind of cycle.”
In order to meet these needs, the Army has been working to establish the Integrated Training Environment (ITE) since 2002 to provide an effective and efficient training toolkit for commanders to train their staff in the resource-constrained ARFORGEN process.
Reyenga explained they are “shooting for the 300 meter target” that integrates all of the training, from individual, self-development, institutional collective training, across all the Army installations, into a single environment.
“We’re not there,” he said, but added they are at what they consider the 50 meter target. “We’re literally fielding it today at Fort Bliss and it’s already at Fort Hood,” Reyenga said. “This is version one and while we’re fielding it, we’re already working on version two. Everyone who has dealt with a ‘version one,’’ whether that’s Microsoft or something else, knows version two will be better.”
Eventually most everything, Reyenga said, with regard to training products and services, will converge on this ITE, from individual weapons, trainers and any kind of collective trainers, moving the Army to its ultimate training goal of preparing Soldiers for the wide gamut of military operations in a calculated and cost-effective approach.
“I live in the now and anticipate the future,” said Colonel Michael Coolican, Program Manager Training Systems, Marine Corps System Command, as he addressed the group about the upcoming opportunities with PM TRASYS and what might be on the horizon. “But it’s all subject to change.”
Colonel Michael Coolican, PMTRASYS. U.S. Navy Photo/Doug Schaub
Coolican said that just like the Army, Marines are now completely out of Iraq and starting the draw down process from Afghanistan, and they’re ramping up Back to the Future in the Marine Corps. And that means they will be going back to a more traditional Marine Corps mission, spending a lot more time at sea, and with regard to the training piece, will need to get their training while on the ship. However, until the Marine Corps is out of Afghanistan, training and supporting our Marines currently there, and those preparing to deploy to Afghanistan, remains our number one priority.
“The other thing we’re going back to is our unit deployment program,” said Coolican. “I’m not sure how this will play out, but if we begin doing things in Australia or Guam, that means potential additional training sites we’re going to need in the future.”
The third piece which also rolls back into training, is the plan to shift back to what the Marines are now calling Integrated Training Exercise (ITX), which is a combination of the old Combined Arms Exercise (CAX) which prepared Marines for deployment 10 or 15 years ago, mixed with Enhanced Mojave Viper used for pre-Iraq/Afghanistan training.
“There’s going to be some impact to training if that gets going and like anything else, whatever we decide up front will most likely not be the final product,” said Coolican. “It will be the first iteration and will be fine tuned once some units go through it.”
“In the past 10-12 years, there has been tremendous work at PM TRASYS, by the military folks as well as the contractors to really give the Marine Corps what they needed for training to be successful in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Coolican. “That’s all coming to a close now with regard to building training facilities and with it, a lot of the money that goes with it.”
Instead of their previous buy and build scenario, PM TRASYS is now going to move into the support of those systems. And so as they go forward, meaningful competition is important to get the best price. Coolican said that when he took over, a lot of their programs were coming to a head, leaving him to manage 13 or 14 competitions in a six-month period.
“We had to get creative, yet stay within the bounds of regulations, in order to set us up for success, so we spread these source selections out over an 18 month period,” Coolican said. “Now we can actually do these things and get meaningful competition in here.”
Going through the FY13 and FY14 business opportunities, Coolican noted that although some were marked as canceled, that doesn’t necessarily mean the program is canceled, as some of them may be getting transitioned to other government institutions, such as Naval Warfare Centers.
“The whole point of competition is to give everyone here an opportunity to get in markets that maybe you’ve been shut out of, and also to get the government a better price for services as we go forward,” said Coolican.
Colonel Marcus Boyd, Commander, Air Force Agency for Modeling and Simulation focused his presentation on the big ticket items coming up for this challenging fiscal year and looking at those enterprise efforts that are going to save the Air Force money, yet at the same time possibly enhance their readiness.
One of those big ticket items is Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) operational training and the framework in trying to find the optimum mix from each area, and putting all those pieces together.
Marcus Boyd, Commander, AFAMS, U.S. Navy Photo/Doug Schaub
“The challenge from a technical point of view is pretty obvious, but when you start looking at the operational impact of trying to put all these things together, it depends on so many variables,” explained Boyd. “It truly becomes an art in figuring out what particular thing does a Warfighter need? And even on that level, it comes down to how that Warfighter is feeling that day, and what kind of live, virtual or constructive training you should be using to train them.”
Boyd said he has been also tasked to implement Centralized Foundational Management (CFM), which he explained as a ‘user-friendly’ oversight program and Centralized Event Management (CEM), a way to manage the common resources they have to promote or put together an LVC environment.”
“CFM is not there to usurp anyone of any powers they have now, but it’s there to help,” he said. “From an LVC operational training perspective, we’re looking at the infrastructure that ties all our simulations and simulators together, and enterprise communications solutions, which is knowledge management.”
Boyd said that with the fiscal environment, and the status quo of the way the Air Force is doing things right now may not be affordable in the future. “We have to figure out better ways to do things, so we can at least maintain the readiness levels we have right now and not let that suffer,” said Boyd.
“We’ve got to think of a better way to do it,” said Boyd. “Our current solution right now is Air Force Continuous Operational Training Environment (AFCOTE), and that’s the direction we’re trying to go to implement CFM. It’s a time and resource saver,” said Boyd.
He also added they want to really focus on the information insurance aspects of this and speed up the process, utilizing an idea for the AFCOTE they adopted from the Navy Continuous Training Environment. “This is not a new concept,” said Boyd. “We’re not starting from square one, because we’re going to let the Navy basically suffer from these wounds and we’re going to figure out how we can actually do it a little bit better,” he said with a smile.
Further explaining AFCOTE, Boyd said to think of it as different villages in cyberspace, where some are live, some are virtual and some are constructive. The training needs and requirements may be alike or different, or they may have similar security requirements or a semi-persistent need to train with each other. There are connections that need to be made, but not necessarily all the time, and with that, there are necessary certifications to actually do that.
“So this is the direction we’re definitely going,” said Boyd. “What’s different from the way we’re doing things now as opposed to how we need to do it in the future, is that every time I want to connect these different training ‘islands,’ I have to basically build that island, and any bridges, and take it down for all the different training events,” he said.
“When we start laying out all the different events that our guys normally play on together, we start seeing they kind of overlap sometimes and there’s actually a persistent need for that,” said Boyd. “One of the major changes we’re going to do there is try to create that persistent constructive island, if you will.
Once the islands are constructed, Boyd described further connections as bridges, and that those bridges are not in place, and if he did have them in place, it would take about a year, or months, to get things connected. “We need to get that timeline down to weeks,” he said.
Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD), Commanding Officer, Capt. Steven Nakagawa, began his presentation by sharing the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Commander’s Intent with attendees. He emphasized the three focus areas published by Vice Adm. Dunaway: increase speed to the fleet, consistently deliver integrated and interoperable systems, and improve affordability.
NAWCTSD Commanding Officer Capt. Steven Nakagawa. U.S. Navy Photo/Doug Schaub
“We’ve been told, if you can’t figure out how the tasks you’re doing affect those priorities, no matter what it is, including me standing here today,” said Nakagawa, “then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.”
As NAWCTSD looks to achieve these goals within each of their program directorates, Nakagawa said that an important part of that success is the culture of learning within NAWCTSD and their 1100+ employees. “We have to shift our focus to changing how everybody learns, both individually and corporately,” said Nakagawa, “and become a much more innovative organization than in the many years we’ve been growing until now.”
In the aviation area, Nakagawa explained, specifically with unmanned aerial systems which he tagged the “wild, wild west of aviation,” they want to lead training systems optimization to help all the different systems. “Right now, the way we fund some programs in the DoD can be a pretty vertical stovepipe,” said Nakagawa, “which doesn’t encourage a lot of the across the stovepipe discussions. So, we’re trying to do this with training systems.”
A new area of focus for the US Navy is intelligent tutoring or adaptive learning. “We spend a lot of time training every rate of expertise for everyone in the Navy,” said Nakagawa. “If we can cut the amount of training time down and get highly-skilled Sailors out to the fleet quicker, it saves a lot of money.”
“Intelligent tutoring uses the Socratic method of teaching, and has shown in a pilot program to take less training time, and take “C” level students and give them their “A” game before they leave,” said Nakagawa. “And they are very much engaged in it and enjoy it.”
Nakagawa also talked about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and the critical need to place students in these topic areas in college, or risk seeing the modeling and simulation industry begin to go downhill. “In many ways, our budget problems can be resolved with training, using modeling and simulation, and not using the one instructor, one student method,” said Nakagawa. “This is an important area for our industry, but it’s also important for all of us to do what’s right for this area, this state and this country.”
For Naval Support Activity Orlando and their role as landlord, they have been reviewing present and anticipated space constraints, as well as dollar constraints that also make leasing additional space a challenge. “A lot of smart people are putting together plans for how we’re going to communicate that what we do at NSA Orlando is a smart thing to do for the DoD,” said Nakagawa.
With regard to conference approvals, Nakagawa confirmed what those in attendance already knew: the Services have had some challenges, and were given the green light for I/ITSEC just before the event. “We didn’t spend a lot of money, and what we got was a lot of benefit from what we convinced those senior people was very important,” said Nakagawa.
He said they finally blazed the trail of the process, and although there isn’t a written process yet, he feels in his mind, once they were approved to participate, based on the justification they made, they’re much more likely to be able to say that same thing again for 2013. “I hope you’ll all be there (I/ITSEC), because I think we will,” said Nakagawa.
Nakagawa also talked about Team Orlando and how important it is to maintain the Team Orlando mindset, help each other and participate in events like the CPAG breakfast. “We gather big organizations together, we partner, and we’re all therefore that much better in what we do,” said Nakagawa.
“I have not previously seen the kind of collaborative spirit and partnerships that happen in this industry, happen in other industries,” Nakagawa said. “I salute all of you for how you do those things, and in my mind, modeling and simulation is a team sport.”
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