Taking cyber training to a higher level
I/ITSEC 2017 is tracking to be another record year for government engagement. The interest by senior officials continues to be impressive with keynotes at the four-star level and an ever-growing number of decision makers and engineers in attendance. The programme this year is extremely strong with 21 special events, over 20 highlighted activities, and over 140 technical papers, tutorials and workshops.
Operation Blended Warrior will go international this year and the Army will roll out its vision for the next-generation “Synthetic Training Environment,” a new effort to dramatically transform Army training.
This year’s theme is “Harnessing new technologies to win in a complex world,” and organisers are dedicated to bringing the latest technologies and concepts to the training community, focusing specifically on the value of big data and big data analytics to improve human performance. All the services collect a lot of data, but little of it is fed back into a coherent system focused on improving learning and training. Great potential is seen to bring background data into a feedback loop that can be used to hone skills in real time, provide enhanced after-action review, and track skills and accomplishments over the lifetime of a soldier or first responder. Big data will also provide digital analysis of best-of-breed training methods, and allow the services to cut time to train while at the same time improving outcomes.
The Program Executive Office, Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) is proud to represent the US Army as the lead service for this year’s Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC).
Each year I/ITSEC provides an excellent opportunity for that open communication for the exchange of information that Mattis spoke about by showcasing simulation, education, modeling and training technology, not only among industry and the military, but the educational communities as well. Each of the US military services will be represented at I/ITSEC to showcase their current technologies to win in a complex world. Each service welcomes and seeks out input from industry and academia to help them achieve the readiness training requirements that will be needed well into the future.
For the US Army, their priorities have been made crystal clear by its Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, who firmly stated his top priority at his swearing in ceremony on 9 August 2015: “Readiness to fight and win in ground combat is, and will remain, the United States Army’s number one priority, and there will be no other number one.”
PEO STRI’s leader, Brig. Gen. William E. Cole, said his organisation’s mission to “Develop, Acquire, Provide, and Sustain Simulation, Training, Testing and Modeling Solutions to Optimise Warfighter Readiness” is a key enabler to meet that top priority.
One of the prime training initiatives involving PEO STRI and their partners, Training and Doctrine Command’s Combined Arms Center – Training and Department of the Army Military Operations – Training, is transitioning to the Synthetic Training Environment (STE).
STE is the Army’s future training environment that enables commanders to train as they fight, against the full range of threats, on any terrain, anywhere, anytime.
It allows for training at the point of need, reducing reliance on facility based simulations centers and provides a Common Synthetic Environment enabling combined arms operations and simplifies interoperability and concurrency challenges.
One of the major gaps or challenges is the technology needed to stand up the STE. The Army needs industry help in identifying the critical components of the STE and the other programmes or technologies that the STE will be dependent upon.
Specifically, they are to develop a converged live/synthetic training environment; provide software enabled updates to trainers; develop a common synthetic simulation environment across all training aids, devices, simulators and simulations; and enable training capability expansion as technology progresses.
Cole said another important area of readiness PEO STRI is concentrating on is in the cyber domain. He said while his organisation has had a cyber support mission for years, and have gained an expertise in cyber testing, they have been directed to take cyber training to a higher level.
He pointed out that the previous Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics was instrumental in directing the establishment of the Persistent Cyber Training Environment (PCTE), adding that the Army was made the executive agent and PEO STRI was given the responsibility as the materiel developer. “We are working to support the US Cyber Command and all of the services’ cyber components,” he explained. “We are also helping to grow connectivity and capacity in the different OSD and cyber ranges and develop that into a full-fledged PCTE. That way, all of the joint force cyber warriors can get trained and qualified both individually and in collective units as well.”
The general said PEO STRI will be looking to see what industry at I/ITSEC has to discuss and offer, particularly in the advances they have in deployable, reconfigurable simulators and in simulators and simulations which are easier for our soldiers to set up and support their training objectives. “We look forward to joining the other military services, industry and academia at I/ITSEC as we work at achieving a common goal of enhancing the readiness of our warfighters through modeling and simulation,” Cole said.