Image of Lt. Gen. Maria Gervais speaking at IDGA

Lt. Gen. Maria Gervais, deputy commanding general for the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, delivered her keynote address for attendees at the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement’s Land Forces Training conference in Orlando, Florida, Feb. 27.


Her presentation, “TRADOC – Embracing Innovation & Technology in Modernization of Land Forces Training,” discussed challenges associated with meeting the future’s most probable threats, efforts to modernize, and necessary changes in the face of unprecedented recruiting issues.


Gervais began by recognizing that the global security environment is growing increasingly complex, and that trend would continue with rapid technological advancements. With rising near-peer competition, U.S. and allied forces would see space, cyber, air, land, and maritime environments as contested domains, according to Gervais. This evolution presents concerns on how to replicate operational environments to train, educate, and conduct leader development for success when fighting in these multidomain environments in the future, and she noted that the “most precious resource” for commanders at all levels, was time.


“Our current training enterprise is a burden to commanders [because] it’s unable to replicate the realism of the current and the projected future battlefields at a pace and relevancy of change in technology,” Gervais said. “There are challenges with integration across our platforms, and the increasing cost of live training does not allow the use of mission command systems, advanced weapons platforms, and other enabling capabilities. The most important thing we can do is give time back to these leaders.”


Toward that end, she said the Army is moving toward the Synthetic Training Environment (STE) to better replicate and integrate all domains of warfare that would allow training with all weapon systems and enable key capabilities for joint and allied partners to train in a complex operating environment. Gervais said that STE would enhance soldier and team lethality by creating tough, realistic, iterative, and dynamic training at a point of need, which would give commanders an option for training that would not require warfighters to stand in line or deal with scheduling challenges.


Gervais went on to say that, to improve lethality, command and control (C2) mission command capabilities would need to be improved, as they have not kept up technological advances over the past five to 10 years. She emphasized that many of those processes are time consuming, manually intensive, and have left a great deal of collective data unused and unexploited.


Toward the end of her address, she summarized her comments by saying that, based on her observations of the virtual, gaming, and communications industry in recent years, senior leadership was just now realizing what is possible with STE capabilities. Gervais noted that according to the latest predictions from the Gartner Hype Cycle, generative AI is achievable in the next two to five years.


“The tip of the iceberg that we’re seeing with these advances will lead to an environment where AI is a core enabler,” Gervais said. “There will be greater trust in technology by our younger generations because they have grown up with it, and they will expect instant, adaptive, ubiquitous personalization that is individualized to them for training, education, and leadership development. To capitalize on these advances may mean that we need to step outside of our comfort zones, move beyond our own ways of doing business, and embrace the potential changes offered by emerging technology.”


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