During the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement’s Land Forces Training conference, senior allied military officers participated in the panel, “Embracing Innovation and Technology in Modernization of Land Forces Training Across Five Eyes Nations,” in Orlando, Florida, Feb. 27.


Dr. Jim Blake, former chief of U.S. Army Program Executive Office Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, moderated the discussion. Participants included British army Maj. Gen. Chris Barry, director of the Land Warfare Centre; Canadian army Maj. Gen. Roch Pelletier, Army Doctrine and Training Centre commander; and Australian army Brigadier Sean Parkes, deputy G7.


The “Five Eyes” organization is an intelligence alliance comprised of the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This alliance seeks to enhance the security of its members by sharing intelligence, particularly signals intelligence, to counter threats such as terrorism and cybercrime. Five Eyes members work together on intelligence matters, pool resources, and share information to ensure collective security and combat global threats.


“We’re all working in a similar direction [toward] integration, interoperability and readiness to make sure our troops are ready for the future,” Pelletier said in his opening comments. “There are still a lot of challenges to overcome, and from a Canadian perspective, we believe that we’ll only be able to achieve our goals as a team within the Five Eyes, but also with NATO partners.”


Blake began by asking panel participants how their respective services have embraced augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and immersive technologies. Barry responded by recognizing the inefficiencies and limitations in conducting real-world training, and he noted the strengths of simulated training in certain areas, as well as the drawbacks in others, with special regard to the factor of jeopardy, and leaders learning to manage risk.


“[With AR/VR simulation options,] not only can you go at your own pace – instead of the pace of your slowest member – but you have none of the friction,” Barry said. “But, when it comes to something like live fire training…I haven’t seen a simulation that delivers that sort of jeopardy, and that is an essential element of training for the fight. We have to remember that what we do is not a risk-free environment, we’re training for a fight, and we need to keep risk as low as reasonably practical, but we don’t want to eliminate all the risk so that people are unprepared.”


When the discussion shifted to the Synthetic Training Environment in modernization efforts for the U.S. military, the Pelletier said that the Canadian army had been closely tracking those developments.


“The Canadian army is not a big army and there’s no way we would want to be fighting on our own, so we need to train as we’ll fight,” Pelletier said. “For that reason, we’re transforming our collective training system to integrate more at the battalion and brigade level into a U.S./Five Eyes training exercise that works with units in the U.S., so we can be fully integrated and interoperable.”


All the panelists recognized the significance of data and data collection for today’s militaries improving combat readiness in the modern day.


“Data drives efficiency as well as military effectiveness,” Parkes said. “Data helps you understand risk, and that might be tactical risk of soldiers running through a facility in a live fire activity… all the way up to overall training system risk.”

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