Going Virtual: A Necessity Moving Forward
By Dolly Rairigh Glass
With the challenges the government currently faces in this tough fiscal environment, its employees are much less likely to attend conferences and meetings that have historically played an important role in their jobs. Whether that interaction improved the understanding of their job through hands-on training, helped them learn skills that improved their performance or gave them opportunity for networking and partnering, these gatherings have provided great benefit to all involved.
But now, with the acceptance that this change may be more than temporary, many are beginning to reevaluate the use of virtual participation for meetings and conferences, in an effort to maintain an important and educational avenue.
One of the challenges ahead in preparing for the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) is connecting with government representatives, when they’re unable to travel for the I/ITSEC Paper Review process. The National Training and Simulation Association (NTSA), the I/ITSEC sponsor, is working to ensure that government representatives are able to stay engaged, according to Navy I/ITSEC Principal, Gary Fraas, Advanced Simulation, Visual & Software Systems Division, Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division.
With a large group of government representatives in the Orlando Research Park vicinity, one of the steps taken to assist with the Abstract Review was to electronically connect remote subcommittee conference rooms to the main paper subcommittee rooms in Destin, Fla. This year’s Conference Chair, Cyndi Turner and Program Chair, Brent Smith, worked closely with NTSA to enable Defense Connect Online (DCO) connections, and for the Executive Committee, a video teleconferencing (VTC) connection was also provided to Orlando (Army, Navy, Marines), Wright Patterson AFB (AF) and Washington, DC (OSD).
“Results were mixed due to some connectivity issues, but overall it was positive,” said Fraas of the new process. “Subcommittee members were able to engage and provide input, however the initial feedback I received is that there was much less discussion. Unfortunately, government subcommittee members outside of Orlando were only able to send their review results to their respective chairperson in advance.”
The Executive Committee discussions were also limited according to Fraas, but noted they are very early in the planning cycle. “How this works out for the Paper Review in July is debatable,” said Fraas. A lot of the activities surrounding planning takes place via side meetings and one-on-one discussions, and with the principal players scattered, it will be interesting to see how it plays out.”
Traci Jones, Assistant Program Executive Officer for Project Support and the Army’s I/ITSEC Principal, also noted there were a few technical difficulties, primarily because DCO only allows 4,000 users across DoD at any given time, so a few subcommittees lost their connection and could not reconnect.
“It was sometimes difficult to hear over the phone lines, especially with several conversations occurring at one time,” said Jones. “Although not ideal, the process worked due to the dedication and commitment of the folks involved. Electronic means of providing input is valuable, but nothing can replace conversations that occur face-to-face.”
Fraas agrees. “As a minimum, we do have lessons learned from the Abstract Review that can be factored into setting up the Paper Review,” he said. “But as a practical matter, the efforts surrounding the Paper Review are more challenging.”
Studies indicate that when it comes to virtual meetings, some may be hesitant to adopt the virtual meeting due to concerns that they will not be able to read body language and facial expressions, and that discussions or negotiations could be slower or less effective. But just by adding a camera to the virtual meetings, it allows remote participants to appear “life-like” or “life-sized” and helps to minimize the frequent criticism that body language cues are not visible in virtual conferences.
Those who spend much of their work hours conducting business virtually say there is some etiquette to consider during these conferences. Closing all windows on one’s computer that are not related to the conference, speaking clearly and loudly, and looking directly into the camera all make the list. However, the most important is maintaining a professional manner through the meeting as you would in a face-to-face meeting.
Another avenue to reduce costs yet still reap the benefits, is to hold and/or attend a conference in a virtual world. In this setting, an attendee creates an avatar that ‘attends’ the event, picks and chooses conference tracks and presentations just like attending ‘live’ and has the opportunity to network and interact with both presenters and other attendees.
According to social psychologists and researchers Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailenson in their 2011 book, Infinite Reality, they describe that avatars experience what people do in the real world. When asked, those who participated in conference calls or webinars said it was nothing like an experience in virtual world.
“With types of long distance participation, like conference calls or webinars, the attendees can get easily distracted, and do not feel involved,” said Randy Hinrichs, CEO of 2b3d, one of this year’s GameTech sponsors and a lecturer on Virtual Worlds at the University of Washington. “While in virtual world, participants can see each other in the environment, and they can see their avatar facing a screen, engaging with the materials and interacting with others. It’s a lot like being there.” he said.
Hinrichs explained a phenomenon called proxemics which is how close someone stands to another before being in their space. This is also something experienced in virtual world, where avatars excuse themselves for bumping into you, or step back if you approach too closely. “This effect speaks volumes to how people feel like their bodies are physically present in a virtual world,” said Hinrichs, “and knowing that, changes how we think about designing content. It’s not about being there, it’s about doing there”.
Hinrich said that attending conferences and classes in virtual worlds is pretty straightforward, especially if people use lectures, videos and chatting, but that the real dynamics begin when we start seriously “gamifying” the virtual world.
“By gamify, I mean engaging avatars in interactive challenges, defined by rules, in which feedback is plentiful from the 3D objects and the integrated social networks, resulting in quantifiable outcomes both in skill and attitude,” said Hinrichs. “Some people refer to this as the Epic Win.”
Regardless of the kind of virtual meeting, whether that is video teleconferencing, webinars, or even virtual worlds, there are mixed feelings about the missing face-to-face component that is considered the ‘normal’ for many.
“Virtual technology is a way to get business accomplished, but it is not ideal,” Jones said. “Luckily all of our volunteers are committed to I/ITSEC regardless of the current issues. They understand the value that the conference provides to the simulation and training industry, and are proud to serve.”
Fraas echoed Jones’ message, and said the government subcommittee members are extremely dedicated and focused, and they take great pride in sharing their expertise. “We’ve always considered our participation with I/ITSEC as a privilege and one way we can ‘give back’ to the modeling, simulation and training industry,” he said.
He also added that the I/ITSEC “family” is close knit and has a great working relationship across the respective Services, as well as with industry counterparts. Additionally I/ITSEC has been as high as one of the top 100 conferences in the US and offers numerous venues that provide professional development opportunities as well as the ability to see and experience the latest technology advancements.
The range of options available to attendees is vast, and the agenda is such that there are always multiple events happening simultaneously. “Because of this, there is always something of relevance regardless of your occupation or level of expertise,” said Fraas. “Trying to orchestrate these activities virtually just doesn’t seem practical.”
“We care deeply about our industry and the value that I/ITSEC has in promoting collaboration,” said Fraas. “Keeping that focus will help us through these difficult times.”
By Dolly Rairigh Glass
The Location of Miss and Hit (LOMAH) technology has existed for many years, but late last summer/early fall, the Project Manager for Training Devices (PM TRADE) Target Modernization team saw their concept to modularize and streamline LOMAH become a reality when the LOMAH system passed its Government Acceptance Test (GAT). PM TRADE, an organization of the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), is the new system’s Materiel Developer, and since that GAT, they have been busy fielding two additional LOMAH ranges, demonstrating LOMAH’s training potential, and gaining momentum for their modernized LOMAH technology.
The LOMAH technology triangulates the location of rounds fired on or near targets to support Basic Rifle Marksmanship (BRM) training, which increases rifle range efficiency, improves training effectiveness, and saves training time for commanders and Soldiers.
An important part of this technology is its ability to give immediate feedback to the shooter, thus helping to identify what adjustments must be made to “zero” his/her weapon. James Todd, the Project Director/Lead Systems Engineer for Target Modernization, PM TRADE, conceptualized the improvements and is the driving force behind this modularized LOMAH system.
Over the last five years, Todd and his team have been standardizing the small arms ranges to a common set of standards, as part of the Future Army System of Integrated Targets (FASIT), and utilizing a common, Government-owned target control system called Targetry Range Automated Control and Recording (TRACR). When the opportunity presented itself to field a new LOMAH range, the team knew it was the perfect opportunity to extend the TRACR and FASIT capabilities to include a re-envisioned LOMAH capability.
“In the past, the LOMAH range [technology] has been proprietary, so for each software modification needed, we had to go back to the OEM [original equipment manufacturer] to pay for changes,” said Todd. “We saw the ability to take this and fold it into our Target Modification product line, the TRACR-based line, and now can start porting LOMAH technology to other types of ranges,” Todd further explained.
Currently, there are only a handful of ranges that have this technology. PM TRADE’s initial goal was to make a small investment in the project, migrate it to be a part of their Live Training Transformation (LT2) Product Line, and reduce the life cycle costs by owning the software. Any future changes in requirements would easily be updated by executing them under the existing Post-Deployment Software Support (PDSS) contract that allows for a centralized sustainment of the TRACR system.
To understand the power of LOMAH, one must consider first that the Army has a pass rate of only 40 to 45 percent during qualification, and from test data observations, it appears that a significant contributing factor is that weapons are not zeroed. Zeroing a weapon means making sight adjustments on the weapon that align the round’s point of impact to the Soldier’s point of aim.
To accomplish this on a 300m Known Distance (KD) range without LOMAH, a Soldier shoots at his raised target, which is then lowered, marked, and raised again. He calculates how far off his marked shots are from the target’s center of mass and makes the sight adjustments to his weapon. Then, the target is lowered, ‘patched up’ so the previous shots are not visible, and raised again for the Soldier to re-engage. This process is not only time-consuming, but the effectiveness of the sight adjustments depends on the Soldier’s ability to identify the marked shot locations, calculate his offset from center of mass, and make the correct adjustments for his weapon and sight type.
Utilizing LOMAH, Soldiers make the necessary adjustments based on the immediate feedback displayed on the tablet-based student station at the firing point. While the Soldiers are shooting, the instructors are watching over them and utilizing a tablet-based coaching station that provides a real-time, color-based indication of each shooter’s status. A blue, green, yellow, or red status indicates that a shooter has either successfully met the zeroing standard, the shooter is projected to meet standard, the shooter is struggling to meet standard, or the shooter is far from meeting standard, respectively. The instructor can immediately focus his attention to a shooter not meeting the standard, look at the shooter’s mechanics and LOMAH feedback, and explain to the shooter in real time where he is making mistakes. Based on this information, the Soldier improves his mechanics in addition to correctly zeroing his weapon.
“When the Soldiers go for qualification, they have a practice run and then shoot qualification. It’s the same sequence of events, which require 40 rounds of ammunition for each attempt, and it’s not a good pass rate or good use of ammunition,” said Todd.
“When we went to Fort Benning, they gave us 16 hard luck cases, who wouldn’t have graduated if they did not pass qualification,” said Todd. “When we brought them to the range, they were all downtrodden and wouldn’t even make eye contact.”
Using LOMAH, this group shot to confirm their zero first with 20 rounds, and then went straight to the qualification round. In the first attempt, 11 of the 16 passed, and a 12th would have passed but had a weapon malfunction. Based on the feedback from the LOMAH system, the five that didn’t pass spent time with the range cadre to review some basic skills, and they all passed after a subsequent attempt. “At the end, we had 16 smiling kids on the top of the world,” Todd said.
During the second GAT at Fort Benning, the Target Modernization team asked for more shooters to validate the range and was provided with a unit that had graduated from Basic Training over a year ago, but had not shot qualification since.
“With this group, we ran a zeroing exercise with 20 rounds, a familiarization exercise, and then ran a qualification,” said Michelle K. Garcia Gomez, a Systems Engineer for Target Modernization. “There were 22 shooters and 19 of them passed on their first attempt, however this time, 6 of the 19 scored at the Sharpshooter level, while 7 scored at the highest level of expert, requiring a 36 of 40. Of the final three, two passed on their second attempt.”
The team presented their product and findings to the PEO STRI, Dr. James Blake, as well as to Brigadier General (BG) Michael Lundy, Deputy Commanding General, Combined Arms Center-Training (CAC-T), during a visit he made to PEO STRI earlier this year. BG Lundy saw the potential in the modular LOMAH and inquired about retrofitting existing Forces Command (FORSCOM) ranges to modernize them. In February, Todd and Garcia Gomez joined BG Lundy at Fort Eustis, where BG Lundy, himself, tried out the LOMAH technology.
“His first group of shots was a tight group, but to the left and a little high,” said Todd. “The LOMAH data was interpreted for his shots and the adjustments were made to the weapon. He followed up by hitting dead center on his next two shots, and after firing his third shot, he said, ‘it’s a flyer!’” The LOMAH data confirmed what BG Lundy already knew – his breathing was off and it sent his shot slightly high, although still on target.
At this demonstration, the Target Modernization team set up three different configurations to showcase the LOMAH technology. The first was integrating LOMAH onto legacy targets and infrastructure without digging. This proved that there was a viable, low-cost solution to adding LOMAH capabilities to an old or existing range.
Next, they showed LOMAH on a KD range, where they left the stationary target raised, and demonstrated that one LOMAH bar per target can be utilized to modernize the old KD ranges. LOMAH eliminates the need to raise the target, shoot, mark it up, raise it back and so on, which saves a lot of training time. The feedback is instantaneous and an entire unit can participate at once, as opposed to part of the unit having to raise and lower the targets.
The last demonstration was of a stand-alone LOMAH functionality that exploits the modularity achieved within the new LOMAH construct, and it’s been nicknamed TRACR Assisted Zero (TAZ). “To me, it’s unit-owned, and they can take it to training, or to theater, and confirm zero anywhere,” said Todd. This use of LOMAH in an article that was published in the Army Times about the LOMAH system was what caught the attention of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, and through some inquiring emails and calls to PM TRADE by the Assistant Division Commander, Operations of the 10th Mountain Division, BG Lundy has worked with PM TRADE to work toward getting the LOMAH system to Fort Drum to allow a Forces Command (FORSCOM) installation the opportunity to use, evaluate, and provide valuable feedback on its use.
The LOMAH technology has reached outside of the Army and has the interest of some of their Team Orlando partners, especially the Marine Corps, who is already collaboratively working with PM TRADE and leveraging some of PM TRADE’s other Live Training products. PM TRADE and PM TRASYS even share a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and meet every April and September to discuss potential areas for collaboration and leveraging.
They’ve also discussed it with the Navy, plan to meet with the Air Force, and think that the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) is another potential user.
Savings is a key word these days – especially in this fiscal climate. Through immediate feedback, this new LOMAH technology speeds up the training for quicker qualification and scales back what used to be three days of training on multiple ranges to one day of training on one range. The efficiency of the LOMAH technology gives the Army, and other Services, a better way to train their Warfighters in small arms marksmanship while saving time and money.
By Dolly Rairigh Glass
Rob Reyenga serves as the Deputy Program Executive Officer for the Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), and was appointed to his position in November 2007 after serving as PEO STRI’s Business Operations Executive. Prior to his civil service appointment, he served 26 years on active duty with the United States Army, completing his tour of duty on May 31, 2004, and retired as a Colonel.
Reyenga grew up in Shreveport, LA, and spent much of his youth working on the family farm and enjoying the outdoors. “At that time, there were some organized sports, but it wasn’t at the level of youth athletics that we have today,” Reyenga said. “So I participated in some sporting activities, just like the rest of my friends did, but I really enjoyed going camping, hunting and fishing. I also participated in Boy Scouts.”
In the area of the country where Reyenga lived, military service was prevalent, and although not an “Army brat,” he came from a military family. His father served in World War II, his brother served in the Navy and fought in Vietnam, and all of his uncles were servicemen. One of his uncles was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge during WWII, and his dad’s cousin was a POW in Germany. Going back to his great grandfather who emigrated from Holland to the United States in 1888, there have been 12 male children, and 11 of them have served in some type of military service.
In May 1978, Reyenga graduated from the University of Louisiana (Monroe) and was designated a Distinguished Military Graduate in the Reserve Officer Training Program and commissioned as a Field Artillery Officer in the Regular Army. One of his early assignments included a tour of duty with the 193rd Infantry Brigade in the Republic of Panama from 1978-1981, where he served as Fire Support Officer, Fire Direction Officer and Battery Executive Officer.
As part of his unit’s duties in Panama as a separate artillery battery, they supported the military installations on both ends of the Panama Canal, protecting the most vulnerable areas of the waterway. “We would split the battery in half, half to the Atlantic side and half to the Pacific side, then put cannons on the boat and sail through the canal,” he said. “It was a pretty neat assignment as a young lieutenant.”
“When President Carter returned the canal to Panama and the Canal Zone disappeared, it was once again Panamanian territory and their national flag was raised on the military installations,” he reflected. “That was also something special to see.”
Reyenga said the U.S. Army was a different army back then. After the Vietnam War as service leaders were determining how they were going to prepare the future force, a training revolution for the Army began and the role of PEO STRI’s origins began to take shape. As the Army had an increased demand for training, they needed to look at how to provide the training devices, and that would change the way units trained at the homestation. The decision was made to move a small organization out of Fort Benning, GA, to the Navy Training Base in Orlando, and the Navy and the Army signed an agreement more than 60 years ago to participate together in providing training devices to the services.
“The Army is there again,” Reyenga said, talking about the current state of the Army. “Our forces are dropping down to an end strength of around 490,000 Soldiers. This relatively small force is expected to be ready anytime and to go anywhere, which means we will have a much more capable force, down to each individual Soldier. There are several pieces to achieving that, but one major part is through training.”
When Reyenga served as the Colonel in charge of the Project Management Office for Training Devices, from 2001-2004, he said that much of the impetus, driven by the then-STRICOM commander, BG Stephen Seay, was creating interoperability between the live, constructive and virtual training devices. “The issue was, though, that we had requirement documents that said all the things that this device needed to do, but in most cases, it didn’t say it had to work with other training devices,” Reyenga said.
“But when you have commanders who are imaginative, resourceful and dedicated to training their Soldiers, they want to create challenging and complex training events in order to best prepare their troops,” Reyenga said.
“Now, what’s truly innovative and resourceful is that more and more of our enablers are able to work together, so trainers are able to create complex training events that challenge the commanders, the staffs and the Soldiers.”
“We are not at a 100 percent solution yet, but I think we have a much better vision and plan than we had 10 years ago,” Reyenga said, referencing the Army’s state-of-the-art Integrated Training Environment concept.
When he’s not focused on his magnitude of responsibility at PEO STRI, Reyenga likes to take time to enjoy the outdoors, an appreciation that developed in his youth. “I’ve plowed up about a third of my backyard for gardening,” Reyenga said, who mostly grows vegetables. “I find it very therapeutic.”
Reyenga says he also “hacks around at golf” and really enjoys going to the shooting range. “I usually go with two of my sons, but recently my youngest daughter has become interested and has gone with me,” he said. “She’s been out there three or four times now, she posts her pictures online, and she keeps her target, so I think she enjoys it.”
It’s the moments like those that refuel Reyenga which help him keep his team focused on their mission. “We’re asking these Brigade Combat Teams and below to either go and do some very difficult things, or be prepared to do some very difficult things,” Reyenga said.
“The way they get their teams ready is through training,” he said. “What PEO STRI does very well is provide all the necessary pieces for a high-fidelity training experience to prepare them for their mission.”
By Terri Bernhardt
How Live, Virtual and Constructive Domains Work Together to Serve a Vital Role?
After a two year development and testing period, PEO STRI’s Live, Virtual, and Constructive Integrating Architecture (LVC-IA) system is up and running. LVC-IA is the Army’s program of record which achieves persistent interoperability among the live, virtual, and constructive domains, and stimulates Mission Command systems, thus enabling an Integrating Training Environment (ITE) for commanders and their staff to train. The LVC-IA is currently fielded at Ft Hood and Ft Bliss and several home stations are on the schedule to receive this critical training capability.
Army Lt. Col. Freddie King, Product Manager for Warrior Training Integration, PEO STRI, assumed command of the LVC-IA team in 2010, and manages the day to day aspects of the program. King brings to the program a strong portfolio of acquisition experience and has vastly expanded her knowledge in modeling and simulation since her first assignment to PEO STRI in 2005. “Soldiers and leaders can use LVC-IA to train for real world missions,” King stated. “They see the system as an enhancement to training for mission planning and mission rehearsal.”
When delivered to an Army base, the LVC-IA system footprint consists mainly of a mobile video wall, two computer racks, 10 dual-screen computer workstations and associated software. The LVC-IA system basically uses this hardware and software to pass data among classified and unclassified systems via a cross-domain solution which is critical in simulating Mission Command systems and providing commanders a Common Operating Picture.
LVC-IA is expected to be fielded at 18 different sites. Fort Hood was the first home station to use the system and Fort Bliss is scheduled to have the system ready for use by January 2013. Three additional sites will receive Version 1 (V1) by the end of fiscal year 2013. “Version 2 development is also underway,” King stated. “Lessons learned from every training exercise will be used to improve the V1 capability, enhance the users training experience, and meet the Commanders training objective.” As PEO STRI continues to evolve LVC-IA they will eventually develop and field four different versions.
By Dolly Rairigh Glass
The Live Training Community portal, where the Army develops, supports and communicates Live Training Initiatives, recently announced the portal is now a Joint Services capability portal, officially designating its partnership with the Marine Corps, and further advocating the importance of the Team Orlando spirit of collaboration.
“Our USMC Live Training partners have joined forces with us to promote, utilize and leverage each other’s live training capabilities for Soldiers and Marines worldwide,” said COL Mike Flanagan, Project Manager, Training Devices.
The portal, originally established in September 2006, underwent a revamp and repurposing in December 2010 under the direction of Flanagan. It expanded the role it plays today for its Live Training Community, and the facilitation of communications with developers, users and industry partners to support standards and common solutions for Live Training.
Still focused on the goal to reduce total ownership costs while improving quality, interoperability, and reusability across Live, Virtual, Constructive, and Joint training/test domains for Soldiers, Marines, Joint Services partners, and the Nation, the portal’s welcome page now includes a visual indication of the collaboration, adding the Marine Corps leaderships’ photos and a joint welcome.
“This announcement reinforces our commitment to Team Orlando collaboration in the live domain and will help eliminate redundancy within Warfighter portfolios in this new era of acquisition austerity,” said Col Michael Coolican, Program Manager Training Systems (PM TRASYS).
“The Army and Marine Corps have a history of collaboration, but the new live training portal strengthens the partnership, and extends that synergy and ‘Team Orlando’ philosophy out to Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) and Training and Education Command (TECOM), said Dr. Jeremy Lanman, Chief Architect for the LT2 program.
Agreement Signed Between PEO STRI and MEDCOM for Established Presence of the Army Office of the Surgeon General Within Team Orlando
By Terri Bernhardt
Ken Wheeler, Assistant Program Executive Officer for Business Operations, Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Army Office of the Surgeon General (OTSG), Medical Command, to accommodate a team of OSTG members at PEO STRI offices in Research Park.
The agreement between the parties solidifies the presence of the Army OTSG becoming a part of Team Orlando. A team of MEDCOM employees, called the “BASICS, Service Excellence team” will have offices within PEO STRI facilities with the intention to collaborate between Team Orlando’s well-established medical simulation professionals and representatives from the Army OTSG.
The BASICS team’s role is to serve as the extended arm serving all aspects of Army medicine to maximize partnerships while sustaining first-class medical simulation capabilities throughout the world. “We’re excited about the future possibilities in medical simulation from the collaboration that will come about due to the co-location of MEDCOM personnel in PEO STRI offices,” Wheeler said.
PEO STRI, located in the heart of Central Florida, has a workforce of 1,200 military, civilian and in-house contractor support staff members. The organization has fielded training systems worldwide for nearly four decades. PEO STRI medical simulation office was stood up in 2005 with most of the medical simulation work being a result of the partnership between MSTC, STTC and industry members.
By Rick Gregory, APEO Business Operations Support Staff
For years, military commanders have had to rely on a big table, lots of sand and little figures representing Soldiers, equipment and the lay of the land when conducting training for their units. The command staff would be huddled around the sand table, moving the friendly and opposing forces with their hands as they learned through radio communications how the mission was progressing. It was constructive simulation at its primitive stage.
In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the U.S. Army largely replaced these sand tables with computer-based constructive simulations to provide an unconstrained exercise environment, enabling multiple levels of command and staff to perform their normal warfighting tasks. Now, as the latest generation of constructive simulations comes of age, PM ConSim is delivering more intelligent, capable and flexible constructive simulations (e.g OneSAF and WARSIM) and enabling components (e.g. SE Core) to update the older first-generation systems.
“During training at their home stations, because of space and their given landscape, commanders can’t always replicate the operational environment for which they are training,” said Col. Wayne Epps, project manager, Constructive Simulation at PEO STRI. “By incorporating constructive simulation in training exercises, we can add those realistic conditions in their virtual training simulators and through their Mission Command Systems.”
PM ConSim provides the “C” in the fielding of the Live, Virtual and Constructive Integrating Architecture (LVC-IA). The current constructive component of LVC-IA version 1 is the Joint Land Component Constructive Training Capability (JLCCTC). To improve interoperability, PM ConSim will add the capabilities of OneSAF and SE Core to the JLCCTC capability.
JLCCTC is the state-of-the-art technology that is a collection of simulations, data collection and after-action review tools. Basically, they provide the new sand table. Together, the JLCCTC components stimulate the commander’s Mission Command System to cause the command and staff to react to the incoming digital information they are receiving on the ongoing training exercise.
“JLCCTC creates a realistic training environment for commanders and their staffs from brigade to theater level,” Epps said. “The constructive simulation toolkit consists of a number of models, tools, and interfaces that commanders can use based on the training audience. In the second version of LVC-IA, OneSAF, or One Semi-Automated Forces, will play the role of a constructive ground model.” In addition, it is expected that PM ConSim’s other flagship constructive model, WARSIM, will also be available to training audiences as a constructive model in LVC-IA.
OneSAF, when integrated with SE Core, or Synthetic Environment Core, simulates aspects of the urban operating environment with special attention paid to detailed buildings for urban operations including interior rooms, furniture, tunnels and subterranean features.
“OneSAF and SE Core generate the common virtual training environment that Soldiers see when they look through the helmet-mounted displays or out the window in virtual trainers such as the Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer or the Close Combat Tactical Trainer,” Epps explained. “The terrain, weather, buildings, equipment, weapons and other aspects of the battlefield are brought to virtual life through OneSAF and SE Core. The realism they generate for the virtual trainers is incredible.
“What is also incredible is the great work accomplished by the PM ConSim team since I have been here and long before I arrived,” Epps said. “Their knowledge, enthusiasm, dedication to the job at hand and continued professionalism give me great pride in being the project manager of ConSim.”
By Dolly Rairigh Glass
In late October 2012, the Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) Project Manager for Training Devices (PM TRADE) Live Training Transformation (LT2) team was awarded the 2012 Army Acquisition Excellence Award for Information Enabled Army at a ceremony held Nov. 7, 2012, in Arlington, Va.
It was a well-deserved recognition for the Consolidated Product-Line Management (CPM) team in the execution of the LT2 focused contract with an objective to provide for the managed evolution of the LT2 Product Line Core Assets and to provide product line support across all facets of the life-cycle for LT2 Product Line teams. Their group is responsible for the horizontal technology integration across PM TRADE and they work closely with not only their Army counterparts, but also the Marine Corps and the Air Force.
“The LT2 is a product line approach to systematic reuse across Army, and Joint live training systems,” said Mike Dillon, LT2 Project Director, and one of the original LT2 project members. “There are common components that many of our live training programs need, and as projects and programs develop from year to year, having this product line architecture in place, in which the developments have already been paid for, prevents those who need these parts from having to reinvent the wheel each time.”
“Think of it like Legos,” said Dr. Jeremy Lanman, Chief Architect for the LT2 program. “At any given point, a project manager can pull different types of ‘Legos’ or components and connect them to build a different training system, because each composition of components gives them a different capability. Basically it’s a set of common and reusable building blocks that are used to provide a capability to the Army for live training.”
“But it’s not just reuse, but also governance, processes, tools – all the pieces to make it happen,” said Lanman. As the lead architect, Lanman manages the day-to-day technical aspects, insuring that all the common tools, processes, as well as software are being governed properly. He works on a daily basis with contractors and developers to make sure everything is coordinated and that the product line philosophy is closely followed.
“We have a very efficient automated product line, comparable to a factory approach,” said Lanman. “Moving into the future and the use of mobile devices for our Soldiers, as well as cloud computing, web based services and SOA (service oriented architecture),” he said, “we are working to position our product line to be enabled so that we can take advantage of all the new technologies – not only with the Army and the common operating environment, but also to improve training and reduce costs.”
Hallmark to the LT2 program is affordability and controlled cost. The LT2 program has been used by more than 16 major Army and DoD live training programs, with more than 130 fielded. There are several shining examples of tremendous dollar savings and cost avoidances, not only by the Army, but also by the Marine Corps and Air Force to meet their requirements ahead of schedule and for significant cost savings.
The Marine Corps Instrumented Training System (MC-ITS) is an instrumentation training system capable of monitoring real time Live, Constructive and Virtual simulation, exercises for the purpose of exercise control, data collection, analysis, and After Action Review. MC-ITS was developed reusing 87 percent of existing LT2 software and completed in two years, saving $11 million and seven years in schedule.
“The Marine Corps Range Instrumentation System (RIS) Product Line includes the Instrumented-Tactical Engagement Simulation System, Increment II (I-TESS II) which is used to support direct force-on-force and force-on-target tactical engagement training,” said Col Michael Coolican, Program Manager Training Systems (PM TRASYS).
“This system is being fielded using a control capability based on LT2 components, which ultimately leads to standardization across services. This partnership will allow us to continue the evolution of the RIS Product Line by leveraging development of enhanced common exercise control, data collection, analysis, and After Action Review capabilities that will provide benefits of improved Marine training and reduced cost of ownership,” said Coolican.
Furthermore, the U.S. Air Force Counter IED AAR System leveraged LT2 assets and fielded seven training systems to meet the Air Force IED training needs at four bases with very little developmental investment.
The LT2 Exercise Control, a composable set of capabilities, has been systematically leveraged for 13 different products fielded around the globe, delivering more than $94.2 million in cost avoidance for new product development, as well as significant cost avoidance for new equipment training, sustainment, and procurement.
Overall, the LT2 program execution has generated a significant return-on-investment to date within PM TRADE’s live training system acquisition portfolio, generating an estimated cost avoidance of nearly $400 million across the development and sustainment for Live Training Systems to include Combat Training Centers Instrumentation Systems (CTC-IS), Home Station Instrumentation Systems (HITS), Instrumented Ranges and Targetry.
“From a Team Orlando perspective, it’s so important to note that our industry partners have stood up to make this happen and that everybody in Research Park has a part to play in this now,” said Tom Coffman, Assistant Project Manager, Training Devices. “Our team is small, but it’s an extended team, because I look at industry as a teammate as much as Mike and Jeremy,” he said. “We don’t look at the badges, and I believe that’s what makes us successful.”
“There are days when our industry partners come over and help us develop these live training standards, and so they have buy in on the project,” Coffman said. “We’d be crazy to try and do this in a vacuum because we have subject matter experts out there in our community.”
One of the things that really sets this group apart, they believe, is the intimate relationships they’ve forged with their industry partners. But they’ll be the first to tell you that didn’t happen overnight and it’s something that’s been growing throughout the last decade.
Paul Watson, currently the Assistant Program Manager for Soldier Systems for PM Field Operations and Support at PEO STRI, was a part of the team that initiated the concept and is very proud of what has been accomplished since then. “When I moved from PM Warfighter’s Simulation [currently PM Constructive Simulations] to PM TRADE in 1999, it was to take responsibility for the Common Training Instrumentation Architecture (CTIA) project that was in its very first phases,” said Watson, the first project director for CTIA.
“At the time, CTIA was envisioned as purely an architecture, and not as the basis for product line development. The OneSAF [One Semi-Automated Forces] program was also going down a product line path, and I had many close friends working on that successful program,” Watson said. “It was a natural choice to apply similar approaches to LT2, tailored appropriately for the unique characteristics of the live domain.”
Another pioneer of the project, Jorge Rivera, is now the Consolidated Product-line Management Chief Engineer for General Dynamics’ Orlando-based facility, leading live training efforts and supporting the 2nd Generation Product line instantiation under the CPM contract. Rivera was the first APM for LT2, from 2003-2008, and part of the team responsible for championing and evolving the LT2 product line, providing a foundation to what it is today.
“I reached out to Jorge because he was familiar with building the existing set of products [legacy systems] and was one of the principals assigned to the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) Instrumentation System project,” said Watson. “Jorge provided a rich amount of recent experience in developing a complex LT2 product, and contributed significantly to the overarching LT2 Product Line cost estimates that established the early budgets.”
The focused dialogue with live training experts also led to the early component structure of CTIA, and together with a robust network of user and customer experts, the team completed a rigorous analysis that showed the potential savings and other benefits of the LT2 approach.
“The toughest part of product line development is getting those responsible for delivering individual products to real world customers to do two things,” said Rivera. “Those two things are to wait for the up-front product line architecture development work to mature and to agree that trade-offs may be made in the development of their product in the interest of preserving product line integrity.”
“Of course, the budget was certainly the biggest driver that allowed the forward progress of LT2, not to mention the timing of the start,” said Rivera. “Return on investment and the LT2 business case were always the justification and selling point for the Army to invest into the concept.”
Along with original team members Dillon, Watson and Rivera, others that were involved in the initial development of LT2 and part of the long-term success included Chief Engineer Robert Dixon (currently in PM CATT), Domain Architects Glenn Dillard (PM CTIS) and Will Samper (PM TRADE), and current Project Engineer Angela Pritchard, who is the longest continuous engineer on the LT2 team.
“A lot of people, going back to 10 years ago, helped make this a reality,” Coffman said. “It was not an easy task, and a tough battle getting the cultural acceptance within PM TRADE, then STRICOM, and now PEO STRI, as well as industry, and across our Army.
“The vision of the original pioneers of this concept needed two important recipe elements to prove the worth – time, and success stories over time,” Coffman said. “We are now there. Thus the award recognition in this pause in the journey, and the journey continues for better things ahead.”
Although return-on-investment was an important selling point early on, it wasn’t the only reason for LT2. The product line brings many other benefits to include improved reliability, faster deployment, increased standardization, commonality and interoperability, common user interfaces and significant maintenance savings among others. Additionally the Army is also looking to PM TRADE’s LT2 product line approach as an example of how to implement the Common Operating Environment (COE).
“Thanks to the LT2 vision that was borne here at PEO STRI before 2000, and the hard work and dedication of a few men and women, the Army and Marine Corps are realizing incredible efficiencies in cost and development time,” said Colonel Mike Flanagan, Project Manager, Training Devices.
“The LT2 product line approach has also transformed the way our teams approach training solutions – they’ll never go back to stovepipe solutions,” Flanagan added. “More importantly, our teams can now leverage the best technologies that industry has to offer.”
The principal executives from the local military agencies sign the new Team Orlando interservice agreement Nov. 13, 2012. Pictured left to right: U.S. Marine Col Michael Coolican, program manager for Training Systems at the Marine Corps Systems Command, Dr. James Blake, program executive officer for the U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, U.S. Navy Capt. Steve Nakagawa, commanding officer of the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, and U.S. Air Force Col. Marcus Boyd, commander of the Air Force Agency for Modeling and Simulation.
U.S. Army PEO STRI Photo/Doug Schaub
By Dolly Rairigh Glass
Just a few months ago, Colonel Harold Buhl, Jr., joined the Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) as their Project Manager for Combined Arms Tactical Trainers (PM CATT).
Buhl was raised in rural Pennsylvania, an area of the country that he described as a humble part of the country, and one where the choices 30 years ago for a young man’s future were primarily that of either joining the military, entering seminary, or factory work.
“With fair grades I applied for an ROTC scholarship and was lucky enough to be selected,” Buhl said. “I attended college in Philadelphia and was commissioned as an Armor Officer in 1988. If I hadn’t gotten a scholarship, I probably would have enlisted.”
As a young boy growing up in Pennsylvania in the Poconos Mountains, Buhl spent much of his time climbing, biking, hiking and collecting scrap lumber to construct forts. “I was very much an outdoor kid,” Buhl said. “There were no video games and we might have gotten three television channels if the weather was right,” he joked.
While in college, Buhl majored in physics. “I tend to be a big picture type of person and physics, from what I saw, provided me the best opportunity because I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I grew up,” Buhl said. “Physics gave me a baseline to pursue a career in either science, engineering or medicine, and a bachelor’s degree that would enable me to do just about anything else in a graduate field.”
Buhl’s first assignment was as a Cavalry Scout Platoon leader in the First Squadron, First Cavalry, Katterbach, West Germany with duty on the former Intra-German and Czechoslovakian borders.
He also served in Southwest Asia during Operations Desert Shield and Storm. “We deployed to Saudi Arabia to liberate Kuwait from the Iraqi invasion in 1991,” Buhl said. “That event almost immediately was a precursor to the Berlin Wall coming down and Yeltsin coming to power, providing autonomy to Russia’s socialist republics that were part of the Soviet Union,” Buhl explained. “That very formative era really was a drastic change for the Army and, as a military officer, it offered a good set of lessons and perspective.”
Buhl paralleled these events to the 9/11 tragedy. “I don’t want to compare and try to say they were even remotely alike, but they were transformative events in our history,” Buhl said. “When I map those events against the different assignments that I’ve had through the years, I’ve had the opportunity to see what we were before the transformative event, and maybe what our conditions were to enable change, and then to see how we reacted or what opportunities presented themselves after the fact.”
Buhl served his Lieutenant Colonel Command assignment as the Commander of the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll (RTS) from July 2007 to July 2009. He then served as the Assistant to the Director of the Missile Defense Agency at the U.S. Strategic Command (US STRATCOM), located on Offutt Air Force Base, NE.
Just prior to joining PEO STRI, Buhl was at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF) completing his graduate thesis, Acquiring Joint Force Effectiveness in a Diminishing Resource Environment.
Buhl said he’d like to think that everybody he has worked with throughout his many assignments has made a tremendous impact on him. “I learn from everyone I meet,” Buhl explained. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, these interactions prove to be useful life lessons.”
“I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to say that each assignment I’ve had has been a good assignment, although some have been more challenging and difficult than others,” Buhl said.
Talking about his new PM CATT position, Buhl described PEO STRI’s technology and the capabilities that customers would want. “We are an Army organization, but we do work for Combat Commands, and other Services and Agencies within the government. We provide those capabilities as a benefit to the taxpayer,” Buhl said.
Buhl described that PEO STRI is organizationally aligned in three simulation domains: live, virtual and constructive, with targets and threats across each domain. He is responsible for the virtual training capabilities that PEO STRI provides to the Army.
“In the virtual domain, PM CATT has a wide portfolio because most of the time when you want to train in an emergency situation, without putting somebody at risk or equipment at risk, you want to do it in a virtual or a gaming environment,” Buhl explained. “Virtual Environments can be very immersive and really make the stress level go up, the heart palpitate, and the trainee break a sweat.”
“Across the virtual portfolio there are many great technologies and capabilities, but the key is first immersing Soldiers in a virtual world so they experience it in a controlled environment before they see it for the first time in combat or in a stressful live situation,” Buhl said.
Buhl’s assignments have kept him busy throughout the years, but every moment that isn’t devoted to his job, he tries to spend with his wife and two children. “We enjoy doing things as a family,” Buhl said. “Previously we lived in Virginia, Nebraska, Kentucky, among other places. Being out in the middle of nowhere provides a lot of opportunities to see many things in America, hiking and spending time together as a family.” While on Kwajalein Island, nearly smack in the middle of the expansive Pacific Ocean, they became “expert” bicycle riders because there are no cars. “We biked as a family quite a bit for fun, but also for exercise.”
“Here [in Orlando] my wife and children are very much beach people, and so I am a beach person by default,” he smiled. “They love the fact they can just drive over to the beach and spend a couple hours or most of a day before being home that night.”
While Buhl’s family enjoys all that Central Florida offers them, he is focused on how PM CATT is going to provide virtual capabilities to meet the needs of the Army, today and in the future.
The Army recently published a new Army training strategy, and PEO STRI leaders subsequently participated in a strategic planning to discuss the future of PEO STRI, their support of the Army, the Combatant Commands and the Department of Defense (DoD).
Armed with those data points, Buhl’s team met to posture the intellectual capabilities, the costs and the programs that PM CATT currently has, and where they need to go to support the Army’s training in the next 15 to 30 years.
“It’s very important for us to do this because the budget cycles and the requirement cycles are two things that are not within our direct control as materiel developers, but do directly impact our operation,” Buhl said. “We need to make sure we look at narrow enough capability paths that still provide flexibility within which we can reach a wide set of opportunities.”
“As one looks at the decreasing budgets and the need to put money in those places that are going to provide the best opportunity and flexibility for the return on investment, we need to ensure that we’re investing in the infrastructure we have here – our people,” Buhl said. “The intellectual capital that we have here is tremendous; the government has invested a lot in these folks who possess a tremendous amount of experience, information, and knowledge. We need to make sure that whatever we do, we provide only the opportunity to expand to build a stronger foundation as we look at the uncertainty that is out there ahead of us.”
Moving forward Buhl said it’s important for the government and industry to leverage each other’s capabilities. “We need to partner as much as we can within ethical and legal boundaries so that our industry counterparts can understand what’s going on, and they can posture themselves for success in a business sense that’s parallel with where we’re going,” said Buhl.
Buhl said the government-industry relationship thrives in a competitively cooperative environment so that all parties are pulling together for the interests of the nation, and competing for the best solutions.
“At the end of the day, I know all the businesses that I’ve dealt with are focused on the same goal as us, and that’s our Soldiers,” Buhl said. “Like us, they want to make sure our Soldiers see something for the first time in a training environment, and not when somebody is shooting at them.”
“It’s all about these Soldiers, our national treasure, those men and women that we put in harm’s way,” Buhl said.
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