Army Brig. Gen. William Glaser, director of the Synthetic Training Environment (STE) Cross Functional Team, provided updates and discussed world events with participants at the 2023 Training and Simulation Industry Symposium.


Glaser began by sharing a story from his final days as a cadet, the upshot of which, was that the phrase, “Training, Sir,” is the safest answer to about 90% of questions soldiers receive during their service.


“Where are you going?”
“Training, Sir.
“Why were you late?”
“Training, Sir.”
“How are you going to fix x, y or z?”
“Training, Sir.”


Glaser said (tongue in cheek) that his “Training, Sir,” lesson has held up for most of his career, but the story legitimately underscores the importance of training to the military profession.


“In the Army, ‘training’ is almost always the answer,” Glaser said.


He segued into the illegal Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, which resulted in the U.S. military engaging with Ukraine to determine how to best support them. Glaser said the top-priority request from Ukrainian officials was training that would develop a noncommissioned officer corps based on the American model but achieving that result would require a long timeline and a cultural change in Ukraine’s military.


“They were still working off the old Soviet model where you had officers and privates, but no real leadership in between,” Glaser said.


Ukraine’s more actionable second request, was to learn to maneuver at the battalion level, specifically integrating fires into combined arms maneuver. Glaser said that 7th Army established a capability similar to a combat training center outside of Lviv, Ukraine, as well as a simulation center. When Russian forces later moved deeper into Ukraine and faced greater resistance than expected, they paused, reevaluated and began targeting strategic assets. According to Glaser, that simulation center was soon leveled by rockets and artillery.


“It was clear to the Russians that [the simulation center] was a center of gravity the Ukrainians had,” Glaser said. “It was because of people in the simulation and training community… that make a tremendous impact on the world today, and it can be seen over in Ukraine.”


Glaser also referenced a recent conference that featured Christine Wormuth, secretary of the Army, and Gen. James McConville, Army chief of staff, as speakers. McConville drew parallels of today’s Army to the Army of the 1970s. Paraphrasing McConville, Glaser said the Army was just coming out of a protracted war in Vietnam, and leadership knew it needed to institute a new doctrine (“AirLand Battle”), which led to new training, weapons and vehicles, as well as successful service in Desert Storm in the early 1990s.


“The parallels of today are significant, in that [we’ve finished] long, protracted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, we know we need to modernize our doctrine and we’ve done so with FM 3.0 where we outline all types of main operations, added two domains, and we’ve modernized our equipment,” Glaser said. “Just like the Army was successful in Desert Storm, when the Army is called to defend our nation, we’ll be successful as we move forward in this new world.”


Glaser also described a “huge endeavor” as the result of Wormuth’s guidance that will involve replacing the constructive simulations used at division, corps and Army service component command levels. According to Glaser, the secretary said the Army needs to train to execute six specific tasks by 2030 if it is to continue dominating land power:


1. Sense further and more persistently than adversaries
2. Concentrate highly lethal, low-signature combat forces
3. Deliver precise, longer-range fires
4. Sustain the fight across contested logistics
5. Protect our forces against air, missile and drone attacks
6. Communicate and share data


Glaser briefly described different programs to be fielded that would be especially crucial in modernizing training, such as the Soldier Virtual Trainer, a marksmanship simulator that would replace the EST 2000, the Army’s current weapons skills trainer.


“The STE does not compete with the live training environment,” Glaser said. “We simply enhance the live training environment by giving [warfighters] additional sets and reps in the ‘crawl and walk’ phase as they get prepared to go into the live, ‘run’ phase.”


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