Nothing Simulated About Simulations
EDINBURGH, Ind. - Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, near Edinburgh, Ind. recently hosted a site visit of the Army's Simulation Operations Course from Nov 5th to Nov. 9th. The Simulation Operations Course is a 6-week course conducted at Fort Belvior, Va.
On the fourth week of the class, the students conduct a site visit at a training center to learn of the capabilities that that site has to offer. Lt. Col. Joe Nolan, simulation operations proponent officer, said the course is designed to certify functional area simulation officers for duty in the Army.
According to Nolan, there are approximately 500 officers Army-wide, 250 active duty and 250 reserve component, these officers provide the commanders the capability of simulation support for training.
In addition, they also provide support to mission command systems integration and knowledge management.
"Simulations as the Army defines it, runs into four categories; constructive simulation, which provides a digital representation on a map, much like you see with a GPS; virtual, which is much like the flight simulators you see on television and all that, and our Soldiers use similar tools for driving and operating combat vehicles; the newest domain to come out is gaming, military gaming, we're leveraging the best of the commercial market and using it for military applications; and finally live simulation which is one reason we're here at the Camp Atterbury-Muscatatuck Center for Complex Operations."
During the site visit, the students visited the Muscatatuck Training Range, an enhanced urban training facility that is part of Camp Atterbury.
"Our school at Fort Belvoir we have the capability of training Soldiers on gaming, constructive and virtual simulation," said Nolan. "We don't have the robust capability of showing our students what a live training center looks like. That's one of the reasons Muscatatuck is so unique mission for the Army and for a number of different defense organizations; it provides an opportunity for our students to see what they do here and incorporate those lessons learned here back at their home stations for training."
Nolan said the use of simulations is an effective tool to meet the training objectives and challenges facing the Army in the coming years. "Right now the Army is facing a number of different challenges, not limited to cost reduction, re-deploying our Soldiers back to home station and competition for those resources back at home station. Modeling simulation will be that enabler for units to maintain readiness levels in a resource-constrained environment.
Simulation can provide the commander a cost effective way to provide training. According to Nolan, the Army is in a state of transition from 10 years of irregular operation to returning to its traditional war-time mission. To accomplish this, he said the Soldiers will need training for those complex tasks. "All those require resources and unfortunately, to be able to those things live is not cost-effective.
This can save money, enable safer training and do repetitions get a quick after actions review to prepare for live training or combat. The students are taught how to use simulations to enhance a units training program. The only limit to the training that can be accomplished is their imagination; if they can conceive it, the training can occur through the use of simulations. "It's important for the students to understand that their only limited by their imaginations. You can come here, and these guys will work with you to get any type of training program to accomplish any kind of training objectives you want in this type of environment where it's not canned, it's not imagining; it's an actual functioning city."
Downs said in 28 years of being associated with the Army he has never seen facilities like the Muscatatuck Training Range. "Most urban training environments are cinder block buildings and conexes where you have to do a lot of imagining," said Downs. "This is real; it's a fully functioning city that you can come and train.
You're only limited by your imagination. So, I thought it was important to bring them here so that when they go back to their units they know of this facility and use it. Maj. Brent Foghleman, mission command systems officer, U.S. Army 1st Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, one of the students in the simulation operations officer course, said the course is intended to give you an overview of all the modeling and simulation tools available. "It by no means makes us an expert, but gives us the knowledge to branch out and become experts in our field. It focuses on live, constructive and virtual as well as the gaming aspect of simulations to train commanders and their staff and the units," said Foghleman.
Foghleman said one of the challenges, but also opportunities as a simulation operations officer is to be able to combine those training realms to facilitate an exercise to train the commander and his staff and those units, whether it be in the field or a mission training complex situation where you're using more of the constructive simulations. "Simulations add that extra layer of training available to us," he said. "And as we all know, we're facing budget constraints as units start re-deploying from theater, the reduced maneuver space to train units, simulations offer another venue to achieve the same training objectives we've had all along in terms of going to the field. So, it gives us more venues and training opportunities as opposed to gassing up and going to the field."
Foghleman said the visit was a source of inspiration and a realization of possibilities to training and ensuring mission readiness for his unit and subordinate units. "The trip to Camp Atterbury opened my eyes and my peers to another venue that is open and available that many of us were not aware of. I'm already conjuring in my head some exercise scenarios to support the Corps commander and his staff."
The idea behind the site visit to Atterbury didn't stop at what a live simulation training venue had to offer but encompassed other aspects to the events and approaches to training. "One of the things I like about this, and I want our students to take away, is not just the live simulation portion, but how this installation leverages other agencies and the whole joint, intergovernmental agency team to be able to conduct government operations, not just military operations," said Nolan. "This site is unique to be able to do that." Nolan said they should broaden their horizons as to what is possible outside of the active duty training venues. "When they look at a training event, don't look myopically at an active duty unit focus; take a look at the active duty, the Guard, Reserve, all the elements of national power. This installation is unique to be able to bring all that together, provide a complex environment and do it right. I want our students understand, this is a way you can do it and this is what right looks like."
Related Support Our Troops, Read Their Stories News