For several years, the Combined Professional Associations Group has hosted the annual Defense Forum Breakfast and invited Team Orlando leadership to address industry attendees on what’s happening in each of their commands — staff changes, challenges, successes and expectations for the coming year. This year’s speakers included Chérie Smith, SES, deputy program executive officer for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI); Captain Erik Etz, commander for NSA Orlando and Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD); Colonel Walt Yates, program manager, Training Systems (PM TRASYS) and Sam Fragapane, technical director, Air Force Agency for Modeling and Simulation (AFAMS).

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Chérie Smith, SES, deputy program executive officer for PEO STRI, said, “I believe we could solve all the Department of Defense issues in modeling, simulation and training if we could harness all the power in this room, and bring it together for the common good. Photos by PEO STRI photographer Doug Schaub.”

As Smith began her presentation, she took a long look around the room. “As I look around, I believe we could solve all the Department of Defense issues in modeling, simulation and training if we could harness all the power in this room, and bring it together for the common good,” she said.

“My message to you today is that we’re [PEO STRI] all in. We have energized ourselves with Team Orlando, and we are starting to put a bigger focus within our organization on interoperability standards and bringing things together because the reality is the money is just not the way it used to be,” she said.

Several times Smith mentioned interoperability and the intent for the services to work the interoperability issues and common standards, but noted that industry’s help was needed to accomplish this challenge.
“This is my most important foot stomp I want to talk about today,” Smith emphasized. “If we cannot get to interoperability more quickly – and more smoothly – it will create roadblocks for the Soldier. Our goal should enable them to move from platform to platform without having to relearn the GUI (graphical user interface). It should look common to them. To do that, we are going to need your help because most of this stuff is COTS (commercial off-the-shelf). We need standards and we need to be able to move those standards across platforms because the budget is not getting any better.”
In preparation for February’s then-upcoming visit from Jack Daniels, SES, deputy assistant secretary of the Army (plans, programs and resources), Smith said PEO STRI planned to lay out all of its programs and their impacts.
“I know this will also be critical to you because a lot is happening, and maybe some of the ways we’ve been contracting to manage these things is going to start to change,” she said.

The CPAG representatives, who collectively host the Defense Forum Breakfast each year, stand behind the Team Orlando leaders who were speakers at this year’s event: Captain Erik Etz, commander for NSA Orlando and Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD); Chérie Smith, SES, deputy program executive officer for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI); Colonel Walt Yates, program manager, Training Systems (PM TRASYS); and Sam Fragapane, technical director, Air Force Agency for Modeling and Simulation (AFAMS).Photos by PEO STRI photographer Doug Schaub.

“Although we focus on training, it’s really only about half of our workload – we have a lot of work in services,” Smith added. “Among the PEOs, we manage the largest amount of service contracts.”

Smith also talked about the establishment of the Persistent Cyber Training Environment.
“We’re going to leverage other cyber work we have that is going on in the PEO,” Smith explained.
The big challenge here will also be interoperability, she said. In this area the services are all doing their own thing, but what needs to happen is that everybody should come together to figure out how to link up to train our cyber personnel.
“The bottom line is that we’ve been very active participants in [community] activities this year,” Smith said. “You’re going to continue to see that. We’re going to be very engaged with the community and very engaged with our sister services. But we’re going to need your help in getting to those interoperability standards and to a common platform.”
Smith began her career as an enlisted Soldier in the Army. She served more than six years on active duty, developing medical scientific software applications at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Health Care Systems Support Activity, Fort Sam, Houston. She has amassed more than 30 years of government experience in all levels of information technology management and development, serving in the following assignments: technical project manager for ASIMS, PEO STAMIS senior liaison officer to the Pentagon, acquisition oversight manager for GCSS-Army, Distance Learning program, Biometrics, and the MACOM and Installation Support Module program.