WASHINGTON — Operating in a synthetic environment — which for Soldiers means combat training in a computer-generated, realistic-feeling environment — will increasingly augment live training at home station and combat training centers, said Lt. Gen. Mike Lundy.
Lundy, commander, Combined Arms Center, spoke at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition last month, where examples of emerging synthetic training were on display at industry booths. Some of the emerging synthetic training ideas were started through Army science and technology funding.
Currently, there are simulators in about 30 locations throughout the Army that are mainly using 1970s technology that cannot adequately replicate today’s weapons and environment, he said.
That will change fairly soon, he predicted, offering several reasons.
Operating in an increasingly complex environment, where the contested domains of land, sea, air, space and cyber converge, will require many training repetitions, some of which cannot be replicated in a live environment, he said, due to high cost or hazardous environments, particularly for aviation.
Also, conditions at home station training cannot replicate those at a Combat Training Center, or CTC, where a maneuver force may be training with full or most of its capabilities.
The only way to get that quality of high repetition training that is scalable from a platoon on up to a brigade or division, he said, is through the synthetic environment.
Besides that, different environments, weather conditions, and day and night conditions can all be replicated using simulation, he added.
Lundy said he expects to see affordable synthetic training in the future to occur at home station within the battalion and even company level. He added that synthetic training will even become prevalent at the brigade, division and corps levels.
Synthetic training isn’t meant to replace live training, he emphasized. However, it will provide the practice required for Soldiers to get good at what they do before they go to the combat training centers, where all of that training will be validated.
OTHER CHANGES COMING
Going to synthetic training isn’t the only change on the way, Lundy said.
Doctrine and tactics are beginning to catch up to threats from potential peer and near-peer adversaries.
A couple of years ago, Soldiers were training specifically for the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, which was predominately counterinsurgency and mission specific.
Then, within the past year or so, the CTCs added combined arms training for the maneuver force, with tactics against near-peer threats in all domains, he said.
In October, the Army released Field Manual 3-0 “Operations,” which details the tactics the Army will use for the next three to five years, he said.
Those tactics spelled out in 3.0 include lessons learned over the last 16 years of war, as well as dealing with more sophisticated threats from adversaries who will want to deny Americans access to the battlefield through long-range precision fires, unmanned aerial systems and electronic warfare and cyber, he said.
And finally, Lundy said professional military education and leader development is catching up to 3.0 and training at the CTCs.
For example, the curriculum will soon include topics like understanding and managing the complex airspace, virtual recruiting and banking by enemy forces, and psychological assessments of the local population, adversaries, U.S. troops and coalition forces, each of which is involved in shaping the fight.
“Maintaining the will of the coalition is just as important as being able to achieve a victory and breaking the will of your enemy,” he said.
The changes in PME, doctrine and tactics like 3.0 are not the final word, Lundy concluded. It will evolve and be re-written over time as gaps and opportunities emerge.