HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Army will extend Infantry one-station unit training from 14 to 21 weeks under a pilot program beginning in July.
The expanded OSUT will add a combatives course, combat lifesavers course, more day and night land navigation, and different weapons qualifications.
The improved training for new Infantry troops is just one way that the Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team is looking to maintain superiority against the nation’s adversaries, said Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. He spoke March 28 at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.
Soldier lethality is one of the Army’s top six modernization priorities, and in addition to expanding initial-entry training, the Soldier Lethality CFT is looking at combining synthetic and real-time training. The team announced a new goggle that combines improved thermal and night-vision technology with a heads-up display that can overlay simulated enemy forces on real terrain.
The Soldier Lethality CFT identifies the Soldier as a “platform” — similar to any piece of Army equipment, but considered the Army’s most valuable asset.
Although the Army has made improvements to body armor, aiming sites, and night vision devices, today’s Soldier still uses equipment and technology that has not changed much in the past several decades, Townsend said. The Soldier Lethality CFT is looking to change that.
Physical fitness, superior training, and combined arms have all played a key role in keeping the Army in the fight, Townsend added. However, the Army must increase lethality, mobility, survivability, and its ability to counter emerging threats, or risk being overmatched on the future battlefield.
Soldier Lethality is especially looking at enhancements for the “close 100K,” defined by the Cross-Functional Team as active-duty, Guard and Reserve personnel that engage with and destroy the enemy.
CHANGES TO TRAINING
To help establish a strong foundation for the “close 100K,” the Army is slated to pilot the improved OSUT for Infantry in July, announced Brig. Gen. Christopher Donahue, Maneuver Center of Excellence Infantry School commandant and Soldier Lethality CFT director. The new training initiative will add seven weeks to the current 14 weeks of OSUT training.
The new OSUT program is designed to better prepare trainees for the physical and mental rigors of being an Infantry Soldier, according to Donahue.
Under the pilot, trainees must complete the basic combatives course level one, the combat lifesavers course, and be proficient in day and night land navigation. Furthermore, trainees will qualify on the M4 Carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in both day and night operations.
In addition to the proposed changes to OSUT, all initial Army training is under review, Townsend added. On March 26, Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper announced the Army is looking to possibly extend basic combat training.
“TRADOC has got a big mission of trying to build the Army and bring in the 80,000 Soldiers we need to meet end-strength requirements,” said Sgt. Maj. Of the Army Daniel A. Dailey.
However, since the Army is in the process of growing the force, the Army Secretary and Army senior leadership were opposed to extending BCT at this time, Townsend said. Until then, TRADOC is working to maximize their current allocated training time.
The Army is also close to releasing a new physical fitness test. TRADOC will start by piloting the program before an Army-wide rollout. A launch date for the new program has yet to be announced.
The new test will provide “enough rigor and relevance” to [ensure Soldiers are prepared for the “complex demands of each of the environments the Army operates in,” Dailey said.
COMBINING SYNTHETIC AND REAL TRAINING
In addition to the proposed changes to initial training, the Soldier lethality CFT announced the launch of heads-up display 3.0. The first prototype is scheduled to be released in the next 18 months, Donahue said.
Before the AUSA symposium, the CFT announced HUD 1.0 — a goggle that combines a heads-up display and built-in reticle, with “double-tubed” thermal and night-vision technology. The new ENVG can also capture and monitor waypoints and share that information with other Soldiers in the field. HUD 1.0 is slated for release before FY 2019.
“There have been tremendous improvements in night fighting advantage that come from successive generations of image intensifiers and thermal sensors through science and technology,” said Donald Reago, director of Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate with the Communications-Electronics Research Development and Engineering Center.
“We see that science technology has helped maintain overmatch in complex environments and contested spaces,” he added. “This technology has helped Soldiers understand and act quicker.”
To help tie the real and synthetic training environments together, HUD 3.0 will provide Soldiers with an improved ability to train, rehearse, and fight. For instance, a Soldier could maneuver around a physical training environment using 3.0, while engaging with virtual force projected inside the goggle’s display.
“With technology, we don’t want multiple sets of hardware,” Reago said. “We want one hardware set that supports everything from the training rehearsal, to the actual execution of the fight.”
Currently, the Army lacks a “semi-immersive training capability to fulfill the critical path in close combat training,” said Maj. Gen. Maria R. Gervais, deputy commanding general for the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center.
Even though the Synthetic Training Environment is in its initial stages, the STE team is working to leverage the technological advancements being made in the “$5.2 billion virtual and gaming industry,” Gervais said.
“Our efforts are focused on providing [the Army with] the ability to have hundreds of simulating reps before they have to do it live,” Gervais said.
Pictured above: A U.S. Army Paratrooper with 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade fires a M249 light machine gun during a platoon level live fire exercise at the 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, March 21, 2018. The Army is looking to extend Infantry one-station unit training from 14 to 21 weeks under a pilot program beginning in July.