Blended Training Breaks Down Siloes for Army’s Live Training Strategy

Blended Training

When considering the military training process across all branches, it’s long been perceived that each increment of training operates in its own silo and each serves its own purpose in readying the warfighter. However, many military leaders would be quick to explain how this is not how the path ahead for training looks. In today’s connected battlespace, each element of the training process leans on one another to turn out proficient, prepared warfighters. The desire to debunk this misperception and prioritize the concept of blended training is apparent in many of the important discussions being had across the defense community.  

In fact, a recent panel held during AUSA Global Force Next 2021 titled “Realizing the U.S. Army’s Live Training Strategy” exemplified this notion that the training process is fluid and interwoven across the different increments of live, virtual, and constructive (LVC) training. The discussion looked at the vision for the future Live Training System and how the live training environment must be accelerated to address existing limitations. This includes the integration of technologies that improve force-on-force training, force-on-target training, and better replicate other important battlefield effects like indirect fire or counter-defilade.   

“What we’re trying to achieve is a converged synthetic environment where we have the ability for a fair fight,” explained panel chair Lieutenant General Maria Gervais, Director for the Synthetic Training Environment (STE) CFT at the Army Futures Command.  

LTG Gervais moderated this panel of colleagues across industry and defense to discuss the acceleration of the live training strategy for the U.S. Army, including the following participants:  

  • Colonel Michael Simmering, Commander, Operations Group with the U.S. Army National Training Center 
  • Karen D.H. Saunders, Program Executive Officer for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation with the U.S. Army 
  • Colonel Charles “Chuck” Lombardo, Deputy Commander for the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center-Training (CAC-T) 
  • Cameron Chehreh, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President, Pre-Sales Engineering with Dell Technologies 

In the panel, LTG Gervais emphasized that a more comprehensive and realistic virtual training approach results in more proficient warfighters during live training exercises, which are often more dangerous and expensive. Getting in those “reps and sets,” as she puts it, in a virtual setting allows for warfighters to enter live training scenarios with more confidence and capability, showcasing the importance of truly blended training practices. According to LTG Gervais, the U.S. Army has an aggressive timeframe in mind for the next two to five years for these accelerations across the live training environment. 

Saunders explained the importance of more transparency and interoperability across different mission systems in the training process, stating, “The STE Common Unified Training environment provides commanders with the ability for seamless exchange of information between live and simulated virtual constructive environments. Said another way, the live STE will fully integrate actual weapon systems, mission command and intelligence information systems, and virtual training environments and systems.”  

“From our perspective, tough, realistic, combat-focused training has been and always will continue to be the lynchpin for our future success as an army,” stated COL Simmering, supporting the value of a more modernized blended training approach. “The greatest equipment in the hands of untrained soldiers really does no good…it’s great to see the Army reinvesting in making sure we continue to provide the best possible training to our units, whether at home station or here at the Combat Training Centers.” 

COL Lombardo spoke to the importance of bringing this level of blended training reliability to home stations and the “tech refresh” needed to support that. With more comprehensive home training stations, warfighters’ accessibility to cutting edge training grows markedly. Improving individual training management capabilities is another element of that goal for COL Lombardo and his team at CAC-T. “[We are] helping build unencumbered company commanders and troop and battery commanders to allow for better home station training, collective training, and retraining opportunities.” 

More focus on blended training and a less siloed approach to military training is what the path forward looks like for programs like the Army’s Synthetic Training Environment. The importance of understanding the value of these technological integrations and all of the moving parts to make them successful cannot be understated for the defense industry. 

You can watch the whole talk with these leaders about blended training’s role in the path ahead for the Army’s live training system here