Training the Warfighter
Sep 15, 2007

For today’s students, technology isn’t a novelty – it’s a way of life. Having grown up with iPods, cell phones, text messaging, computers and instant messaging, they move from device to device with ease – simultaneously managing several programs, communicating in numerous chat groups, researching on the web, ­creating documents, and adjusting their music files.

So when these students enter the armed forces, they won’t settle for an instructor lecturing in front of a classroom showing slides. Recognizing this, we must be ready to train these future warfighters to effectively use these skills to process an overflow of information and make spilt-second decisions.

What we are witnessing today is the transformation of training. Consequently, we must modify traditional ways of preparing warfighters. Tomorrow’s students and constantly changing technologies demand more.

The Close Combat Tactical Trainer is part of the Combined Arms Tactical Trainer family of virtual trainers.

When most people think of training, they envision the traditional classroom with instructors, simulators or training devices. We need to think about the student, the human, the warfighter – and how to train in a way that optimizes their performance. We must understand and consider the whole training spectrum, which enables us to analyze challenges and build tailored solutions from the ground up. At the center of every solution is the student.

Human Performance Engineering, Cognition: Pieces of the Training Puzzle
As technology pushes to the farthest edges of imagination, our warfighters must keep up with the furious pace of change. They need and deserve training that challenges not only their skills, but their thinking. Training must address all aspects of how students learn. It isn’t just about knowing how to fly a sophisticated aircraft or understanding how to lead a team in battle. The training of the future must cut through the technology and focus on a student’s ability to think.

In 2010, pilots and maintainers will enter a fully-integrated schoolhouse for the new Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, the F-35 Lightning II. From the moment they enter the Integrated Training Center at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, students will be immersed in a continuous learning environment. Courseware, learning plans, syllabi, electronic classrooms, and flight and simulation activities are all being interwoven in to a training solution that touches every moment in a pilot or maintainer’s education. The training program is designed to create a learning experience that incorporates a whole systems approach to optimize the performance of students who take the controls of this fifth generation aircraft.

Close Combat Tactical Trainer – Reconfigurable Vehicle Simulator (CCTT-RVS) provides the representation of a wide variety of wheeled vehicles, including multiple variants of the High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle and Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck, all equipped with precision small arms simulators.

The F-35’s technology demands that warfighters process incoming information and make decisions in an instant. Cognitive experiences are unparalleled and demand that students receive training that exceeds the aircraft’s technological capabilities. Based on regular assessments, the learning plan can be adapted to each student’s specific needs throughout the program. Thus, Human Performance Engineering analyzes individual gaps in the student’s learning, then develops requirements to fill those gaps. This mission-based training more clearly reflects the way our transforming military operates.

Modern warfare has rewritten the book on preparing for battle. Preparedness is as much about improving and optimizing human performance under stress, as it is about transferring skills – as much about cognition as it is about transmitting new knowledge. With a rapidly changing, unpredictable environment that our war fighters face, we must evolve our training from teaching our students “what to think” to teaching them “how to think.”

The upside of technology is the ability to rapidly insert new weapons, new technologies, faster intelligence and fully-integrated decision support and communication systems. But the downside is cognitive and sensory overload – too much data – too many decisions to make – too much to learn, too late.

Knowing what our warfighters need to know and when they need it – knowing how and where to engage – knowing how to react right and react fast – can be a matter of life or death. For these reasons, optimizing individual and team performance in combat is as critical as engineering the networks and the weapon systems that enable the performance.

The USAF Distributed Mission Operations Center of Excellence (DMOC) is the world's finest virtual Command & Control Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C2ISR) facility. It functions as the lead Distributed Mission Operations (DMO) integrator for the theater-level, full spectrum combat training, testing, and mission rehearsal.

Military training should be neither “just in time” nor “just in case.” And it’s important to remember that simulation, networks and virtual environments alone are not training. Computer games – even massive multiplayer on-line games – alone are not training. And relying solely on process measures will not guarantee training success.

Effective training comes when all tools are combined with scenarios that delivers learning and allows students to practice relevant tasks within given scenarios. Feedback, both during and after the experience, is a must to determine what they knew and what they now know.

Computer gaming technology and Hollywood special effects have made quantum leaps in the past decade in terms of realism. Games can teach, but it is important to ask what they teach. It’s possible to wander around for many hours in a wonderful simulation learning few new, or in worst case, wrong lessons. To convert a game or a simulation into training, we must make sure relevant lessons, tailored to the learner’s needs, are practiced, identified, and reinforced.

The training industry is looking at several aspects of gaming technology and using it where practical. This, along with training solutions that run the gamut from desk-top simulators and interactive courseware to high fidelity training devices must enhance the student’s learning environment and save precious training time and money.

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is the next generation fighter to support the needs of countries across the globe. Courseware, learning plans, syllabi, electronic classrooms, and flight and simulation activities are all being interwoven in to a training solution that touches every moment in a pilot or maintainer’s education.

The harsh reality of today’s global engagement dictates more than just traditional training methods – it must be integrated with organizational strategy. For the future training environment, learning needs must be assessed rapidly, training must shift from the home base to forward areas, and, most importantly, there must be improvements in individual and unit performance – all key to operational success.

Training Together, Worlds Apart
It should be no surprise that the connections between humans across the globe are being expanded and advanced by technology – and training is no different. We do not fight in isolation, nor should we train that way. From social networking web sites, to online games where millions of players convene in vast virtual worlds, communication and understanding is practiced as we interact in our global society.

To operate effectively together in battle our allied forces must train together. To help accomplish this, we have created an environment where distributed training – literally a virtual battle space – brings students from across the globe together in a realistic battlefield. This training comes at a fraction of the cost of live training and can be conducted at a multitude of sites, linking warfighters in an arena where they can build and develop their team’s skills.

One example of this type of training is the Combined Arms Tactical Trainer. With two sites, one in Sennelager, Germany and one in Warminster, England, CATT is one of the world’s largest training facilities with the ability to link up to 400 users in an immersive computer-generated environment.

The Combat Leader Environment Simulator improves cognitive skills to make the best decisions in battle. Cognitive psychologists emphasize that, under stress, decisions are essentially automatic. CLE immerses a commander in multiple, realistic scenarios – each reflecting variations in ­missions and the dynamic, ambiguous ­character of today’s real-world operations.

Managing human communications across various military forces is difficult enough, but the addition of technology can complicate any situation if forces do not train together. At schoolhouses and training centers across the globe, multinational teams are learning how to capitalize on technology to make their units more effective and successful.

The need for training does not stop when the troops are deployed. Whether it is a refresher course or learning new programs as technology updates, the training community is finding ways to create ­solutions that can be deployed in the combat theater. Deployable trainers are being developed that use the same software as traditional high fidelity training systems, but are packaged for use in the field, on-board ships or in the classroom. These systems allow troops to “train on the go” and can be expanded for mission rehearsal to provide the opportunity to perfect the battle before the fight begins.

In today’s warfare, the soldier is at the center and operations have transformed from the “soldier enabling the technology” to the “technology enabling the soldier.” Key decisions now tend to be made at lower levels within the military chain of command by junior grade and noncommis­sioned officers. Cognitive training helps them hone skills and gain the experiences they will need to make the right choices when faced with life-defining moments.

The training industry has an obligation, indeed, a duty, to provide student-centric training that blends learning and cognitive skills in an environment that prepares troops to fight, win and survive. Our children today, who will fight tomorrow’s wars, deserve nothing less.
Dale P. Bennett is president of Lockheed Martin Simulation Training & Support – headquartered in Orlando, Florida – the largest provider of training to the U.S. Department of Defense. He is responsible for the development of ground and flight training and simulation solutions as well as enterprise logistics solutions for Lockheed Martin. His career spans 29 years of service to industry and in support of the military. Programs under his cognizance include training systems for the F-35 “Lightning II,” advanced gunnery and tactical trainer systems, asset management solutions and cognitive training for U.S. and allied forces.
© FrontLine Defence 2007