In January, NAWCTSD and NSA Orlando Commanding Officer, Captain Erik “Rock” Etz, briefed a packed house as part of the annual Combined Professional Associations Group Defense Forum Breakfast. He opened up right away by thanking the group for their work.

Captain Erik Etz NAWCTSD

NAWCTSD Commanding Officer Captain Erik “Rock” Etz told industry that government and industry working together will meet the Fleet needs. Photo by PEO STRI photographer Doug Schaub.

“Our team believes that government and industry working together will meet the Fleet needs,” he said. “I am thankful for all the things that we do together that allow the Navy to execute its many missions, to include providing forward presence around the globe and executing national tasking in combat areas when called upon,” he said.

NAWCTSD has seen an increase in portfolio size and current trends support a continued upward climb, with some year-to-year fluctuations. Last year the 1,200 professionals at NAWCTSD initiated 1,300 new contract actions resulting in $1.2B in orders.

“We know there is work coming our way, and we are preparing for increased growth, recognizing as any other team, that we will max out our facilities on base at some point and so we’re looking ahead to the future,” Etz said.

Some of that growth has been identified by senior Navy leadership. Etz said, “I appreciate the support provided by this group in hosting the many flag officers (and members of the Senior Executive Service) that attended I/ITSEC last year. We continue to get inquiries following their participation in I/ITSEC and they want to know what industry and government working together have to offer to meet Fleet needs in many areas.”

Etz then took some time to review the future directions for NAWCTSD:

Naval Aviation. Previous investments have yielded a significant simulator infrastructure for Naval Aviation, so the Navy will continue to partner with industry to upgrade those devices, both in terms of fidelity and networking capabilities in order to meet Fleet training needs across platforms. There is a growing focus on integrated war fighting capabilities and how to deliver trainers in a simulated environment that reflects how the Fleet operates in the real world. Additionally, based on input from senior Navy leaders, he expects to see more interest in deployable trainers, those potentially based on VR devices and with a smaller footprint that could possibly be deployed on ships.

Surface. Based on support for the Littoral Combat Ship and some of those immersive, virtual environments, and the interest level in the surface community, Etz said he fully expects investigation of virtual environment solutions by other platforms. Those potentially include some ships that have been around for a while as they look to upgrade the way they train their Sailors to support those platforms.

Undersea. The Multipurpose Reconfigurable Training System® (MRTS), which is a government-based family of devices, started as an undersea platform, and has now migrated across all of the warfighting areas. MRTS has been called a fundamental element for learning support for Sailor 2025. Currently NAWCTSD is doing some work with industry partners to configure the MRTS for continued expansion. This will enable future partners to provide applications that can run on the MRTS hardware and allows for training across many Navy skill sets to meet the needs of many warfighting communities. Etz said, “We can’t do it all. We’re going to have to partner with many of you to meet those needs.”

Cross Warfare. One of the big tickets in Cross Warfare will be NAWCTSD’s support of Sailor 2025 over the next few years and there will be significant growth in industry opportunities.

International Portfolio. The international portfolio has been growing year after year, primarily in the aviation sector but the team continues to see interest in surface opportunities as well. Etz said he thinks that piece of his team will continue to grow as they get cases directly from the State Department or foreign partners, or if work flows through some of their other program manager counterparts.

Etz said this is what is important to the NAWCTSD team and their focus:

Maintain relevant fielded devices that support current ops
There’s a recognition that we can do more and we should do more so the fleet is properly trained to meet the needs of current deployment tempo for our strike groups. Supporting those simulators — primarily on the aviation side, but on the surface side as well — is always going to be top of the priority list of how we serve the fleet.

Delivering integrated warfighting capability/networked training opportunities
We need to ensure that we have an appropriate foundation for our simulators to operate across our network. We’ve had an open dialogue with the Air Force and with many industry partners, however the Navy plan for distributed training is different than the Air Force model. It’s not a single program that is resourced out to industry but really is a government-led effort. They are standing up the Naval Aviation Distributed Training Center in mid-2017.

Fostering Live, Virtual, Constructive training solutions
Last year NAWCTSD was tapped by VADM Grosklags to take a lead role within NAVAIR lines to lead a strategy of LVC for training applications. They are working with PMA counterparts, developing a plan to arrive at an end state that allows us to provide LVC capabilities to the Fleet across platform lanes.

Sailor 2025: Meeting needs of the 21st century Sailor
NAWCTSD remains right in the middle of this effort with counterparts at Fleet Forces Command and Naval Education and Training Command, and will continue to play a significant supporting role. Sailor 2025 has already resulted in some contracting activity over the next two years.

Advancing Capability in Cyber warfare and Security
Wrapped up in all of this, they are always looking at cybersecurity and protecting the networks.

Implementing Intelligent Tutoring Across Training Areas
There’s recognition across the board that training according to individual capabilities is needed. These programs will allow for training individuals according to their specific timelines and learning strategies.

Etz closed his presentation talking about research and technology and collaboration with industry. Both are priorities for NAWCTSD.

“We are always interested in partnerships with industry counterparts, so if you have an idea you’d like to pursue with us, we have a number of existing CRADAs (Cooperative Research and Development Agreements) and we’re always looking to increase those numbers where it makes sense, or combine the teams,” Etz said. “I’m honored to be a part of this team which is doing great things for the Navy, and I expect 2017 to be a banner year!”