By Shane Klestinski, Associate Editor

 

Senior leaders from DEVCOM Soldier Center Simulation and Training Technology Center (STTC) briefed attendees at the Training and Simulation Symposium (TSIS) in Orlando, Florida, June 13.

 

Briefers representing STTC included Christopher Metevier, Advanced Modeling and Simulation chief; Shawn Hackett, Ph.D., science and technology manager for Medical Simulation Research Branch; Gregory Goodwin, Ph.D., branch chief for Adaptive & Intelligent Training Systems; and Travis Hillyer, STS lead with Training Technology & Environments Branch.

 

STTC’s mission seeks to discover, develop and transition innovative simulation and training technology to maximize soldier effectiveness and warfighter readiness. STTC’s projects cut across four of the five Defense Department branches.

 

Metevier’s brief covered some of the simulation architecture projects his branch is working on, as well as current cyberspace projects and new projects, such as the Cyberspace Exercise Visualization and Interaction Technologies in a Cloud-Hosted Environment (CEVICHE) program that will start in fiscal year 2026. Metevier explained that the problems CEVICHE will address, relate to current training to which simulations provide limited capabilities for generating cyberspace elements in exercise scenarios, visualizing cyberspace events/effects, and collecting cyberspace data for after action reviews (AAR).

 

“Our approach is to research and develop ways to improve and automate cyberspace exercise scenario generation, visualize cyberspace events and effects using 2D and 3D visualization and interaction capabilities, collect data during exercises, and communicate that information during AARs,” Metevier said. “The benefit is the elimination of the skilled, labor-intensive resources requirements associated with incorporating cyberspace events and effects in exercises.”

 

Hackett explained that his branch was split into three “thrust areas.” The virtual area involves the virtual/mixed reality domain. The live thrust relates to live training. The performance domain focuses on performance assessment. According to Hackett, a major effort for his organization currently focuses on improving the tactile fidelity of haptic devices used in virtual environments.

 

“The Medical Simulation Branch mission centers around ensuring that our medical personnel are ready for the next fight,” Hackett said. “That ranges from improving the knowledge, skills and abilities of our medics, physician assistants, nurses, and physicians, as well as ensuring our nonmedical personnel – infantrymen, etcetera – are proficient in their combat lifesaver tasks. This also ensures that our commanders are proficient in casualty response – everything from pulling security to being able to correctly evacuate a patient, and all the trickle-down effects.”

 

Goodwin noted that the Army still relies on subjective assessments and feedback in training. While that paradigm has its place for coaching purposes, the downside is that it provides no permanent record of performance. Goodwin said that most units’ training records only indicate whether an individual has completed the required training. In discussing the Competency-Based Training for Multidomain Operations project, he explained that his team wanted to establish a data framework that embodies a data strategy for automated, multimodal assessments. Its purpose would center on performance evaluation, exercise control, and competency forecasting.

 

“We need to build more of a permanent record,” Goodwin said. “We need to have digital repositories available to help us better track training across the enterprise at the scale the Army has to manage. We want to take all those streams of data and build open-standard models for assessing performance for leveraging across different training environments.”

 

Hillyer mentioned his organization’s two major research goals to the audience: One World Terrain (OWT) and technologies for force-on-force training and live training. The latter includes Soldier Virtual Trainer, Squad Virtual Trainer, and augmented/mixed reality. While discussing OWT, Hillyer noted the complication of opinion conflation and confusion from multiple data sources. If terrain data sets from one vendor, the government, and another party are different, the challenge becomes how to combine those data sets quickly and accurately into one that becomes the reference standard.

 

He went on to discuss the Digital Terrain for Live Training Engagements project, explaining that live training requires high accuracy. Because the environment changes, the terrain changes, and so the digital terrain should also change. According to Hillyer, the 2D terrain gets represented well, but the elevation can lack fidelity.

 

“This [terrain collection] data takes a lot of time and a lot of manual labor currently to process and get rid of errors, anomalies and things that don’t make sense,” Hillyer said. “[We’re looking] for ways to process this terrain… so that if we do these collections, how can we distribute those changes and update the local cache with the most recent information? That sort of live training environment is a big challenge for us in getting that information to the soldier at the point of need when they need it.”

 

To read STTC’s PowerPoint presentation slides, go to: https://www.ntsa.org/-/media/sites/ntsa/events/2024/41t0/0613_1505-1600_devcom-sttc.pdf?download=1.

 

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