Karen Saunders, PEO STRI, Technet Augusta

Karen D.H. Saunders, program executive officer (PEO) for Program Executive Office Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, represented her organization on a joint PEO panel during the TechNet Augusta conference in Augusta, Georgia, on Aug. 16, 2022.

The Technet Augusta conference caters to government agencies, military commands, industry representatives, academic officials, and other groups involved in the cyber operations community. Discussions at this year’s Technet focused on forging relationships between academia, industry and military representatives, promoting cybersecurity and using new technology.

During the panel, Saunders and PEOs representing other offices shared their thoughts in a “wish list” of how industry can help with network capabilities, to include interoperability and training.

“Intelligent tutoring is key,” Saunders said. “In human performance and training effectiveness, [we need to address the question of] how do we increase the training performance for our soldiers, and how do we give them a better experience so they are trained at a potentially higher rate?”

Saunders also mentioned the importance of immersive, multisensory simulation and training that can be made available to a large number of soldiers, citing the IVAS program under development as an example, but recognizing that it will only go to go to a certain portion of the Army.

“I’m responsible for the live training, the individual soldier’s virtual training, and being able to look at technology for the masses for a reasonable price that we can provide to the rest of the Army,” Saunders said.

Saunders went on to emphasize the importance of embedded training on ground platforms and air platforms, noting how helpful it would be if soldiers had convenient access to such platforms that were wirelessly connected to the SIM system or the synthetic training environment located in the cloud.

Finally, Saunders mentioned simulated terrain.

“[Previously, Army Maj.] Gen. Gervais talked about One World Terrain [OWT]… providing terrain to the simulation systems, and we’ve seen it very successfully used in the operational force, but what a lot of us miss is the amount of detail,” Saunders said. “When you produce ‘terrain’ in a certain standard… that terrain’s [details must be handled] so that it is consumable by a simulation system, and so you have to attribute every piece of that visual terrain so the simulation system can reason on it. You have to know the insides of buildings, you have to know the dimensions of buildings, so that is a huge piece that I’m very interested [in].

Saunders went on to mention OWT having the propensity to just have one 3-D standard and the challenges associated with it.

“Taking it that extra mile to be able to be rendered and used within a simulation system is key and it may sound simple, but it’s a difficult issue, especially when you’re doing it dynamically,” Saunders said.

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