ONR prepared warfighter portfolio review presentation.

By Shane Klestinski, Associate Editor


The Central Florida Tech Grove hosted the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Prepared Warfighter Portfolio Review in Orlando, Florida, June 25-28.


This Navy portfolio concentrates on maximizing warfighter preparedness by developing intelligent and adaptive training, performance-aiding tools, as well as advanced and readily accessible training capabilities. Over four days, featured sessions provided insights on the portfolio’s training technologies that prepare warfighters for future fights through four focus areas: attention control, adaptive training, live/virtual/constructive (LVC) training, and assessment/debrief capabilities.


“The portfolio goes from basic research to more applied research on understanding brain mechanisms, how we learn, how we pay attention to adaptive training, developing training that relies on strengths and weaknesses, and adapts to meet the needs of the trainee,” said Natalie Steinhauser, program officer for ONR. “For example, we look at attention control because it’s predictive of performance – and we’ve seen it predict naval performance, specifically. We study the brain to understand how people pay attention to inform training.”


Steinhauser explained that her portfolio also dealt with complications of “training as we fight” on a large scale, such as with an entire carrier strike group. Such challenges include providing the tools to execute worthwhile training, especially during deployments at sea where sailors can lack a large support infrastructure and the staff to make that training possible. Other concerns involve assessing trainees’ performance and debriefing them to ensure they process lessons learned to improve readiness for actual missions.


The event’s intended audience included academics, industry representatives, members of military education and training commands and other Defense Department stakeholders, as well as “performers” from these areas within the training community who presented the sessions. While this review was not specific to the modeling and simulation (M&S) community, Steinhauser noted that it did offer benefits for M&S professionals who attended.


“The biggest [benefit] would be in naval applications of modeling and simulation, specifically in the LVC arena,” Steinhauser said. “Most of what we do for LVC is with modeling and simulation expertise in how to connect systems, make the simulations with the right level of fidelity, and understand what’s too much and too little. [M&S people who attended this review] have a better understanding of the Navy’s problems, what we’re facing, and our needs.”


Of the information presented at the review, the more applied work has “a very direct transition” to improving warfighter readiness, according to Steinhauser. She went on to say that certain LVC training programs were going straight into transitioning for fleet forces command programs in a clear path. Sessions that highlighted more basic research would have a longer-term impact.


“However, the work on attention control and measuring it has had great traction with NAMI [Naval Aerospace Medical Institute] in Pensacola where they’re training new aviators and air traffic controllers,” Steinhauser said. “We’ve shown through our research how predictive those measures are of performance and whether trainees will be successful. That [research is] getting integrated into the assessments given… to help the selection of people into those roles. We’re now looking to incorporate it into the training pipeline as well.”

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