DOD simulation project meets first milestone

The Defense Department's system for conducting modeling and simulation to train troops for real-world missions recently completed its first major milestone, validating DOD's initiative to have the services work together on simulation programs.

Modeling and simulation technologies are becoming increasingly important to DOD because funds for training are declining, and the price for high-tech weaponry is increasing, said Fred Lewis, a retired Navy rear admiral and the executive director of the National Training Systems Association. Environmental pressures also are forcing DOD to cut down on the use of training ranges where troops use live ammunition, he said.

However, "you have to do things to maintain readiness, and modeling and simulation will become increasingly important to all of the services," Lewis said. It is "one of the few growth industries we have in DOD."

At the heart of DOD's simulation initiative is the Joint Simulation System, or JSIMS, which will create a realistic training and education systems architecture that all of the military services and civilian intelligence agencies can use to test and refine everything from new ways of sharing information to coordinating attacks on the battlefield. With JSIMS, DOD hopes to create a common set of training, education and mission applications for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

JSIMS will replace what is known as the Joint Training Confederation, a set of 12 simulation systems independently developed by the military services and various military and national-level intelligence organizations. Jeff Simons, deputy JSIMS program manager, said these systems were built with service-specific requirements in mind and did not always provide troops with the opportunity to train with the same systems they use when they go to war.

"There's a lot of discontinuity between the models," Simons said. JSIMS will provide the services with the ability to train together using the same equipment they will use in battle.

JSIMS, a $69 million program awarded in 1996 to TRW Inc., this month cleared its first major technical hurdle with the creation of a core software infrastructure, known as Build 0, which will allow DOD to test future systems architecture concepts. In addition, the Joint Program Office's "enterprise approach" to the development process enabled the program to reach this first of several milestones on schedule and within budget.

Build 0 represents about 10 percent of what DOD is looking for when the system is completed in April 2001, said John Irby, JSIMS program manager for TRW. Finished during Build 0 were 21 mission space objects, which are computerized renderings of weapons such as tanks, airplanes and ships, as well as computerized models of human behaviors and decision processes that are used during major military training exercises, including the U.S. Atlantic Command-sponsored exercise Unified Endeavor.

The next iteration of the JSIMS core software, known as Build 1, is scheduled to be completed in July 1999 and will increase the number of mission space objects from 21 to 200, Irby said. Build 2, which will be ready in the first quarter of fiscal 2000, will increase the number of mission space objects to 500 and will include enhancements to education and doctrine support. The final version will include 800 mission space objects.

"JSIMS will represent modeling and simulation state of the art," Irby said. In addition, the enterprise management approach used to develop JSIMS "showed the modeling and simulation community that the [JSIMS] architecture is sound and that the [enterprise] management paradigm produced the product on time and within budget." One of TRW's main tasks is to conduct integration, development and testing on the various components being developed separately by the military services and civilian agencies.

TRW is responsible for coordinating requirements on system specifications, developing joint models and concepts and providing life-cycle support, including the software that will be used for after-action reports and analysis of major exercises.

The most important development to come out of Build 0, Simons said, is the program office's ability to exercise what he called "parallel threads," or simultaneous development of multiple requirements, while planning the long-term goals of the program as a whole.

"JSIMS is intended to overcome [discontinuities] and provide a coherent and consistent environment," Simons said.

The validation of the JSIMS management focus is as important as the program itself, Irby said. "The enterprise management approach is the wave of the future for joint program development," he said.

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