The Land Forces Training Summit 2023, presented by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA), took place recently in Orlando, Florida. Dr. James Blake, former Army program executive officer for simulation, training, and instrumentation (PEO STRI) was Chairman of the event.


The conference focused on the interoperability, policy constraints, and processes. “Reliance on allies for the mutual defense was a primary theme during the presentations,” said Blake. “There is a real desire for collaboration and interoperability.”


Attendees participated in discussions on how to deliver more effective training to ensure warfighters are ready to meet the challenges of future operations. The IDGA has a vision to serve as the trusted institute for research, education and engagement within the defense and security community and a mission to conduct extensive research into the governments’ and Armed Forces’ most critical challenges in order to provide a platform to learn, share, and connect though engaging live and digital formats designed to facilitate mission success.


Before the summit began, Team Orlando hosted a panel discussion at the Central Florida Tech Grove for the distinguished visitors from various US and NATO land forces organizations. Following the pre-event panel, attendees enjoyed a welcome reception hosted by 4C Strategies.


The following two days attendees learned from senior leaders about land forces training and modeling & simulation. A common thread within many of the presentations from US and international presenters was interoperability and interchangeability in our training programs. In numerous presentations and panels over the course of the summit, the participants discussed real-world threats and the need for collaboration.


Col. Arnel David, U.S Army Strategist and Fight Club Co-Founder, addressed revolutionizing and advancing training through wargaming. Col. Scott Woodward, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center-Training, discussed strategies for building training readiness to support Army of 2030 requirements, and Brig. Gen. Joseph Hilbert, Commanding General of the 7th Army Training Command, spoke about developing training interoperability and promoting strong coalitions among allied and partner nations. Additional nations’ armed forces that participated in the summit included British Field Army, Swedish Army, Australian Army, Royal Netherlands Army, Swiss Armed Forces, Canadian Army, Estonian Army, German Army, and NATO Allied Transformation Command.


The following international general officers spoke during the event:

Lt. Gen. Sir Ralph Wooddisse, Commander of the British Field Army

Lt. Gen. Hans-Peter Walser, Swiss Training and Education Command and Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces

Maj. Gen. Karl L. E. Engelbrektson, Commander of Swedish Army

Brig. Glenn Ryan, Director General of Australian Army’s Training and Doctrine

Brig. Gen. Valhur Karnus, Commandant of the Estonian Military Academy, Estonian Army

Brig. Gen. Maurice Timmermans, Director of Operations Royal Netherlands Army


Two key members of Team Orlando spoke. Ms. Karen Saunders, SES, program executive officer for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), shared her thoughts on the importance of agility and accelerated delivery of training systems to the force. She discussed the need for data standards and interoperability and interchangeability in our product lines.


Saunders spoke about the focus on synthetic training environments and said modernization is a goal, and the ability to deliver faster, smaller incremental capabilities is important to enrich the force.


Also from Team Orlando, Col. Marcus J. Reynolds, Marine Corps Systems Command’s Program Manager for Training Systems (TRASYS), focused on delivering modernized training for Marine Corps. “We equip our Marine Corps with the most capable ground and information technology weapon training systems to maximize their expeditionary and combat readiness,” said Reynolds.


In addition to the government speakers, various sponsors also led sessions during the summit. SAAB Sweden spoke about live, instrumented training in a multinational environment. SAAB also sponsored the Chairman’s dinner. Multiple other sponsors participated, and Marathon Targets hosted a live-fire opportunity with their robotic targets on a live range post event.


U.S. Marine Corps Col. (Ret.) Walt Yates, Training Solutions Advisor for Marathon Robotics and former PM TRASYS, was an attendee and provided insight to the event. He described the IDGA conference as a summit for leaders of different NATO countries to provide varied perspectives. “Despite the varying threats and priorities faced by different countries, there was a consensus on the importance of combined arms operations, the continuing importance of conducting combat operations in urban environments, interoperability of combat systems and training systems, and achieving affordable mission readiness,” said Yates.


Wrapping up the summit, Blake shared his appreciation for the Senior Leaders from allied nations as well as the US representatives and the event sponsors. It was a great opportunity to share training approaches, live, virtual, and constructive (LVC) interests, and manpower challenges. “Every nation needs to be prepared to defend its sovereignty and alliance commitments,” he said.


The summit’s impromptu post-event live robotic targets demo on a make-shift range with Marathon Targets offered attendees the opportunity to experience its training system and fire at autonomous robotic role-players. The autonomous robots were created to solve the training gap for all militaries by offering the rare chance to live-fire train with realistic moving robotic threats.


Marathon is the only robotic target in the world that is available through a firm fixed price service contract with no additional fees for repairs or maintenance, showing unparalleled confidence in the durability and reliability of their products. Yates said, “The burden of innovation and modernization is on the commercial vendors to remain on the cutting edge of technology because the competition can quickly displace the incumbent.”


Marathon Target’s autonomous robot.


IDGA has announced next year’s summit, again in Orlando, on February 27 and 28, 2024.

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