One-World Terrain demonstration

By Leiah Kim, Staff Writer

 

Gary Frost, deputy director of Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Team (STE CFT), discussed the progress of the Army’s One World Terrain (OWT) program at the Training & Simulation Industry Symposium (TSIS) 2024, June 13.

 

OWT provides a virtual representation of the Earth’s physical landscape through 3D global terrain capabilities, supporting training, operational and intelligence needs. This technology offers the Army realistic, common, accessible, and automated 3D terrain datasets for training simulations and intelligence systems. 3D terrain and information services have become essential tools for decision-making and strategic planning for both military and commercial usage.

 

“We have provided [OWT] to the Army Special Forces units all the way up to the division level and overseas operations,” Frost said. “It has exceeded our expectations, and the demand has grown so great that we decided this should be a program itself to build a pipeline of standards and be able to be used in the operational side of the Army as well.”

 

Frost introduced Ryan McAlinden, chief of OWT and senior technology advisor of STE CFT to discuss OWT’s challenges and goals.

 

McAlinden shared that collecting precision 3D geospatial data is easier than it has ever been. Data collection for OWT has been widely successful, but the challenge now lies in implementing data into simulation environments and mission command systems.

 

“One of the goals that we are currently facing is trying to automate,” McAlinden said. “Automate the process and get rid of the concept of touch labor. This has been a big challenge over the past six years, and we are looking for industry and research to continue reducing the amount of human investment that is required.”

 

OWT was initially created for training and later developed into an operational tool. STE CFT is now working to converge these capabilities to create one universal, digital terrain. However, it can only achieve this goal if everyone in the training community collectively produces and uses terrain data in a common way.

 

McAlinden highlighted the process of data collection through the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) which acts as the main data contributor for terrain collection. NGA provides baseline data to develop the foundations for programs like OWT.

 

OWT is collecting datasets beyond physical terrain into the electronic warfare environment through the electromagnetic spectrum. According to McAlinden, it is critical to ensure these multidomain environments have accurate representation for simulation, training, and operational use.

 

“If you can be seen electronically, you can be targeted and killed physically,” McAlinden said. “This is something that we are trying to work into the whole concept of the way that we look at the environment around us.”

 

McAlinden later described the development of the 3D Terrain Transformation Office, which aims for constant innovation and refinement of developing requirements, technologies, and solutions in the digital environment. This office will allow STE CFT to integrate technologies into new Army transformation programs and facilitate the challenges and gaps OWT has experienced.

 

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