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Members of the Team Orlando community gathered at the Holiday Inn Orlando East – UCF in Orlando, Florida, on March 25, 2022, for the annual Combined Professional Associations Group (CPAG) Defense Forum Breakfast.

CPAG’s mission is to help coordinate activities and facilitate synergies between various defense organizations and agencies in the modeling, simulation, and training community.

Senior officials from the four services representing Team Orlando updated attendees on recent events in their organizations, relevant concerns in their field, as well as current projects and future goals.

Karen D. H. Saunders, SES, the senior leader for the Army’s Program Executive Office Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), addressed the major structural changes executed within her organization that focused on people, in accordance with priorities set forth by Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth.

“One of the major changes I made was to turn us from a G-staff to what I would call a secretariat staff,” Saunders said. “I’ve also created an office of talent management specifically geared toward building our bench… and looking at our current workforce to ensure they’re properly trained to do their jobs. For me, that’s extremely important.”

Saunders went on to highlight PEO STRI’s Army modernization efforts, such as the Synthetic Training Environment, One World Terrain, and the application of those programs in training Soldiers for operations in areas like the Middle East and Ukraine.

Navy Capt. Dan Covelli, commanding officer for Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division and Naval Support Activity Orlando, began by discussing the importance of sea power and its effects on trade, the international economy and global stability, in addition to the importance of properly trained people.

“Proficiency is measured in the reps and sets that make a person competent,” Covelli said. “One push on a bench press in the gym isn’t going to do it. One golf swing is not going to do it. A person needs ‘reps and sets’ practice to get better.”

Covelli also spoke of maintaining a better-trained force over peer and near-peer adversaries, emphasizing four focus areas: the customer, speed, availability, and affordability of the training products employed – with speed as the first priority.

“We have to put the right product out at the right time at the right price,” Covelli said. “We want to give the warfighter the very best product, and to do that, we have to listen to the customer.”

Air Force Col. Timothy Beers, Air Force Agency for Modeling and Simulation commander, discussed his concerns of peer and near-peer adversaries possibly closing the gap of superiority in weaponry that the U.S. military currently maintains. To preempt this concern, Beers also echoed Covelli’s comments on the necessity of maintaining better-trained personnel with a higher degree of readiness.

“Imagine two opponents meeting on the field of battle with equally pointy sticks; it’s the person with the training and experience who’s going to walk away, and we’ve got to ensure that’s us,” Beers said. “That leverage we’ve had before of having the longer pointy stick, that’s a thing of the past.”

Beers described different aspects of Future Synthetic Training, such as low (near real-time) latency and sixth-generation sufficient entity counts, among others, to the breakfast attendees. He also empathized his need to discuss those aspects further with representatives who had special expertise in those areas.

Other topics Beers addressed, included Agile Combat Employment, a concept that calls for short-term investment in air facilities to accomplish future missions, which won’t allow for several years to build up air bases in deployed environments. Finally, he discussed the Multi-Capable Airman Concept, which described Airmen who would leverage technology to execute support tasks for which they have little, or no, prior training.

The final speaker was Deputy Program Manager John Taylor, who represented the Marine Corps’ Program Manager Training Systems (PM TRASYS). Taylor began by describing the people who make up PM TRASYS, their duties, and went on to discuss the commandant of the Marine Corps’ plans for the future of the Corps.

“[A focus on] education and training is on the horizon,” Taylor said. “Not only that, but talent management, better education, better training, quicker training, and then retaining those folks who we put all that effort into training.”

Taylor discussed the challenges of working in the acquisition field, to include funding challenges caused by continuing resolutions, and efforts to overcome those challenges.

“Late budgets and not getting what you asked for is an issue, but you just have to deal with it,” Taylor said. “You plan the programs for what you need, and then you execute to what you get.”

The next CPAG Defense Forum breakfast is scheduled for January 2023. Proceeds from this year’s breakfast were donated to the Central Florida Veterans Memorial Park Foundation.

Slides presented at the breakfast are located on the WID website.

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