The Institute for Defense & Government Advancement (IDGA) Land Forces Summit wrapped up on its second day, Feb 28.

This summit continued its discourse from the first day through panel discussions and presentations in its main venue, as well as industry booths featured in the exhibit hall. Discussion addressed live training approaches, interoperability, simulation and synthetic training development, and new technology to leverage of data for better training and readiness.

Setting the Land Forces Summit apart from many modeling and simulation events, was its elevated emphasis on perspectives from international allies and partners. Themes of interoperability and integration were referenced in multiple sessions. Panels and presentations featured officials from several NATO countries, as well as “Five Eyes” nations that work closely with the U.S. on intelligence matters.

The first session began with Canadian army Maj. Gen. Roch Pelletier, Army Doctrine and Training Centre commander, speaking on how Canada’s armed forces leveraged training to prepare for deployment at anytime, anywhere, and for any mission. Pelletier also offered his insights on how the Canadian military used training simulations and what the future held.

“We believe that any future operation or conflict Canada will participate in, will be part of a larger coalition or NATO team,” Pelletier said. “We need to train together, we need to work together, and we try to make sure that other countries understand what it’s like to operate and not just survive – but thrive – in extreme cold weather.”

Brigadier Sean Parkes, deputy G7 for the Australian army, discussed the evolution of training technology for the Australian military in his session, “Land Domain Training Down Under.” During this session, he also identified interoperability challenges, and their impacts on infrastructure and resource management. He also noted the significant shift in the Australian army’s training, which has reflected current challenges.

“The conflict in Ukraine, the conflict in Israel, and in particular, great-power competition …[has prompted] the government to conduct a defense strategic review to look at its strategic environment and how Australia’s defense forces are structured – and in particular, the Australian army,” Parkes said. “That process occurred very quickly last year, which caused force structure changes for our army, and these are some of the biggest changes we’ve seen since World War II.”

During the panel on “Addressing Gaps in NATO Forces,” senior representatives from the Polish and Dutch armies, as well as NATO’s Modeling and Simulation Group discussed training deficiencies across NATO forces, and to most effectively use technology to resolve those deficiencies. This conversation also touched on other concerns that technology was limited in resolving. Polish army Lt. Col. Arkadiusz Skrzek, liaison officer to Headquarters, Department of the Army; emphasized two factors that have always been historically significant for military organizations – time and space – and its significance for Poland in the modern day.

“Time, from the Polish perspective, is the commodity we cannot buy, and we always have in short supply,” Skrzek said. “[Considering Russian aggression in recent years] we don’t have the luxury of waiting for the simulation age to catch up to the weapons systems characteristics of which they are to replicate… or the lessons learned of stove-piped systems. Regarding space, the Polish army operates five major military training areas but that’s only a fraction of [what other countries have for training]. We need to consider moving training, especially for large-scale combat operations, into the virtual-constructive domains – but we’re still not yet there.”

After lunch, U.S. Marine Col. Marcus Reynolds, the senior leader for the Marine Corps’ Program Manager Training Systems, discussed the agency he leads, its organization, the approach it takes to training Marines, and its future procurement needs. Project Tripoli garnered special attention during his address.

“[Project Tripoli] is an overarching program which will bring all of our live-virtual-constructive training underneath one effort,” Reynolds said. “Some of those efforts are programs of record, some are not, but it’s focused on the warfighter to yield a better quality of training to Marines in the field.”

Hans Lindgren, Saab’s head of business development training and simulation business area dynamics, offered his perspectives on decision-making and the evolution of winning cultures during his presentation, “Industry Insight Session Defining the Requirements to Achieve the Ambition: Train to the Point of Failure.” Shortly afterwards, German army Maj. Gen. Michael Hochwart, commander of the Army Training Command, talked about the German army’s training advances, wherein he detailed how his country’s military organizes effective training and its future prospects and training solutions that could grow with NATO partners.

In “Modeling and Simulation: Virtual Reality, Mixed Reality & Substitutional Reality,” the conference’s final presentation, Wim Huiskamp, chief scientific officer for NATO’s Modeling and Simulation Group, highlighted applications of virtual, mixed, augmented, and extended realities in NATO training. He also addressed some “human factor” limitations currently facing this technology, and areas where subject matter experts aim to improve before they can create a “holodeck”-type experience featured in episodes of “Star Trek” that present a synthetic, immersive world, which is practically indistinguishable from the real world.

“There are still improvements we need to work on, but there’s also the human factor aspects of how the human sensory system works,” Huiskamp said. “There are still significant issues of ‘cybersickness’ with nausea, people tripping over their own feet… or having trouble perceiving depth in a head-mounted display and grabbing synthetic objects. We are working on all of these aspects in the science and technology world, and this is a collaborative effort with human factor and medical departments and modeling and simulation groups.”

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