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By PEO STRI Public Affairs, Donnie Ryan
A select group of acquisition professionals from the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) executed the sixth Soldier touch point for the Synthetic Training Environment – Live Training System (STE-LTS) from Jan. 23-31 at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.
PEO STRI’s Agile Acquisition Response (STAAR) Team, a collaborative group of select individuals from various project offices within the program executive office working together to assess commercial off-the-shelf solutions readily available and new technology concepts for Army modernization, was responsible for executing the Soldier touch point and has been tasked to assess any potential modernization gaps in live training.
A key part of overall modernization efforts, STE-LTS is the Army’s next generation live training system. It increases combat training realism by exercising full Brigade Combat Teams tactical weapon platforms and enables interoperability with joint and coalition partners.
This recent STE-LTS touch point event demonstrated improvements to rapid prototyping solutions designed to address Instrumentable-Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (I-MILES) obsolescence beginning in fiscal year 2026 as well as the 40% gap of live training capability that does not exist in our training platforms today (placed, dropped, thrown objects). These prototype solutions introduced new weapon systems to live training while providing increased realism to battlefield effects.
“At this event we’re evaluating rapid prototype technologies to enable future training improvements at the Army’s combat training centers and home station training sites.” said Curtis Leslie, STAAR director. “These systems will address current training issues and will support training for new weapon systems that will be introduced to resolve training gaps.”
Leslie said the team is working to increase realism as the Army prepares current and future Soldiers for dominance on the battlefield in multidomain operational environments. This specific touch point, the sixth for the STE-LTS, featured combat training systems supporting a large family of weapon systems including direct fire, indirect fire, counter-defilade, dropped, thrown, and placed munitions, information and electronic warfare, medical simulation, air defense, and weaponized drones armed with rifles.
“The STAAR Team performs extensive testing of rapid prototypes and subsystems in a lab environment to quantify and validate technical performance, but the purpose of the touch point is to gather Soldier feedback in operationally realistic environments,” Leslie said. “Soldier feedback is critical to our team because it helps inform design decisions and allows PEO STRI to rapidly field systems that have user buy-in up front and early.”
Col. Dana Stowell, Army Training and Doctrine Command Proponent Office-Live director, said Soldier touch points for the STE-LTS helps to improve the accuracy and realism of current and future weapons systems and capabilities while also improving the live training environment to closely match or represent the battlefields of today and tomorrow.
“Soldier-centered design with agile, acquisition processes provide essential opportunities for Soldiers to be involved early and often in the prototyping of capabilities through these Soldier touch points,” Stowell said. “We make conscious decisions on bringing subject matter experts to the Soldier touch points.”
Soldier touch points are a key element of the Army’s Soldier-centered design concept because they ensure the final product is one Soldiers like, one that will not slow them down, weigh them down, or interfere with other elements on the battlefield.
Touch points can take form of focus groups, surveys, shadowing Soldiers, and observation to study how the systems and technology is being used. During a touch point, Soldiers can communicate with defense contractors who design and build products and software which shows their input is valuable in the development process.
As the Army seeks to modernize quickly and build the Army of 2030, Soldier touch points are invaluable for ensuring smart, calibrated investments that offer maximum utility. STAAR works to optimize the Army’s buying power, accelerate capability deliveries, and enhance the Army’s warfighting dominance through strategic implementations of technology that yield a combat-ready force for today and tomorrow’s future multi-domain wars.
The STAAR concept allows for exit gates to demonstrate early technology and allow spin-offs into other programs of record, as well as modular contracting through the Other Transaction Authority process.
“At STRI we have a motto, and that motto is that ‘we work for our Soldiers, it’s the best job we’ve ever had’,” said Timothy F. Bishop, SES, deputy program executive officer at PEO STRI. “A little bit of genesis behind that particular motto is that at PEO STRI we touch every single Soldier and every single weapon system fielded by the United States Army, with some 335,000 test and training devices that are spread across 491 locations around the world.”
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