Simulator Training - DEFENCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, Issue 51
Simulate to accumulate
The flexibility of modelling and simulation has made for a valuable training tool, as Brigadier General Giovanni Fungo, of the Italian Army and NATO, tells DMJ…
The use of video games in personnel training is not a new phenomenon. For example, 'Battlezone', a successful arcade game involving tanks, first published in 1980 by Atari, was developed a year later into a serious game for the US Army to support training for the Bradley military vehicle (The Bradley Trainer). Fast forward 30 years, and the advances are astounding. Here, Brigadier General Giovanni Fungo, Italian Army and Assistant Chief of Staff of Transformation Capability Development and Capability Engineering at NATO Allied Command Transformation, speaks to DMJ about the importance of modelling and simulation (M&S) training.
What are the benefits of using modelling and simulation?
Before I answer your question, I would like to explain the mission of Allied Command Transformation (ACT) and what we are trying to achieve. ACT, as the leader for NATO's transformation, is focused on improving interoperability primarily among the forces of NATO nations.
Training, education and exercises are focused on ensuring that forces can work together, in support of planning and executing operations, by utilising agreed, standardised procedures, tactics and techniques. ACT provides NATO and partners with a collaborative network that allows nations to test their systems against agreed standards and reference architectures prior to deployment in support of operations.
M&S is a key enabler for providing readily available, flexible and cost-effective means to significantly enhance NATO's effectiveness whilst streamlining various activities that are critical to transformation.
What are the different types of simulation available?
Live, virtual and constructive simulations are considered in the various applications that ACT is leading in. However, what is of critical importance for us is the ability to integrate various partners (and partners' capabilities), such as the NATO nations for a common purpose and endeavour. For this reason, we invest a great deal of effort in proposing solutions that are distributed and federated in their original design.
What are the pros and cons of M&S in training soldiers?
Modern conflicts are essentially a human endeavour. Technology alone cannot solve the issues challenging the warfighter on planning, conducting or training for operations.
However, M&S can support the military command in several ways. Firstly, it can provide the means to assist with the training and education of soldiers and leaders. Employing M&S through various distributed training architectures (eg. live, virtual and constructive), trainees are exposed to processes and equipment that they would normally only encounter during a real situation. This 'safe', adaptive and immersive training environment enables the audience to gain knowledge and proficiency on tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), decision-making, information management, concepts, doctrine and the use of systems.
As NATO trains its operational and tactical headquarters, M&S enhances the ability to integrate with national M&S capabilities, thus facilitating NATO/national training events. Also, due to its inherent flexibility, it enables us to focus on a specific training audience – for example, allowing a joint headquarters to train without committing (or employing) a subordinate headquarters.
The M&S support for training should expand the scale of the learning experience by increasing the event's force structure, making the opposing force (OPFOR) more interactive and the topic coverage more general, enlarging the geography of the event, stimulating real-world (NATO- fielded) C2 systems and decision support tools, and increasing the mix of effects and the realism of the weapon systems and scenario vignettes.
In all these initiatives and capabilities, the commanders' training objectives must remain paramount. Accordingly, M&S can provide a suitable toolkit for the NATO training centres to use in crafting the training environment that best addresses these objectives.
Why are After Action Reviews (AAR) so important to the evaluation and analysis of performance during training simulations?
A very careful analysis and subsequent AAR is issued after each exercise prepared and carried out by the ACT on behalf of various nations. What is very interesting with M&S is the ability to record a training event and replay it for a more detailed analysis, allowing more repetition and making performance measurable. This allows soldiers to improve their performance by providing them with a constant review. Such a feature is difficult to achieve during a live exercise.
How is NATO assisting in the development and expansion of M&S programmes, particularly in Europe, and how can organisations such as the European Defence Agency assist in advancing M&S systems?
ACT works closely with the NATO M&S Group (NMSG), where all NATO nations have the ability to promote their own M&S solution and equally share their view on the way ahead. We also have a significant interaction with the newly created M&S Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Rome, Italy.
Enhanced participation at defence-related M&S conferences, exhibitions, seminars and workshops helps to increase awareness about Alliance needs and take advantage of emerging technologies from both sides of the Atlantic. Exchanges at staff level show that both ACT and the European Defence Agency (EDA) share common objectives and similar roadmaps to improve their respective M&S capabilities. In tight economic times, with many nations under budgetary constraints, duplication of effort and unnecessary redundancies are not acceptable.
How would you like to see live simulation develop in the future and which areas do you view as a priority?
In light of current operations, and considering that NATO should be prepared for a wide spectrum of operations in the future, I believe that M&S should be able to account for that new paradigm. In other words, M&S is more than just a flight simulator, or a first person game. It is about capturing the essence of future situations, to include operating with non-military actors (government, non-governmental, civilian, local population, etc.), requiring quick and sound decisions.
Live simulation is still providing the closest type of simulation to that encountered by our troops in theatre. I would also emphasise that often the centre of gravity of an operation is not at the tactical level but at the operational or even at strategic level. M&S solutions in these areas might better prepare our decision-makers for what is yet to come.