Workforce

Army looks to virtual training, shared intell amid budget cuts

Army virtual-training tools

Helmet-mounted displays are among the many virtual training tools the Army uses to prepare its troops. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Penny Zamora)

Amid stagnant budgets and declining force size, Army leaders routinely stress the need to maintain readiness. Finite funding has placed a greater emphasis on simulation, virtual environments and shared platforms for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in helping prepare soldiers for the next war.

The Army is planning to collapse at least three virtual programs into a single environment that encompasses integrated, across-the-board training, according to Army officials speaking last week at the AUSA Aviation symposium in Arlington, Va.

"For us to be able to execute realistic training, good training, we have to be able to bring that operational environment" into the virtual world and live gaming, said Brig. Gen. Michael Lundy, deputy commanding general at the Army Combined Arms Center. "As we look to the future, we are going to transition ... into the future holistic training environment, live synthetic. We want to get away from having multiple environments, virtual gaming and instruction, and go to one synthetic environment, get to a lower overhead and integrate the full operations process... according to the common operating picture."

Lundy said the Army will be trying out virtual training tools for the Defense Department's classified network at an upcoming Army Network Integration Evaluation – an effort that will move the Army forward in streamlined training at a time when training budgets are being squeezed.

"We have to reduce the overhead of training – right now for some simulations we've got 14 or 15 contractors or personnel that we need to be able to build the exercises, to run the simulations," Lundy said. "We can't afford that. That's a couple million dollars per installation we're paying in manpower."

The downward pressure on budgets also is stressing the Army's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. The service's aviation branch is set to undergo a restructuring for a smaller fleet that "basically allows us to take advantage of those best platforms and sensors that have been bought at great expense," said Lt. Gen. Mary Legere, Army deputy chief of staff for intelligence.

She and other top Army leaders emphasized interoperability between the components and services, as well as coordination of manned and unmanned ISR platforms, including drones. Legere said the Army will soon consolidate its aerial ISR fleet into a central location that will provide "a distributed approach" for signals intelligence.

"That's going to allow us to save money on brick and mortar and invest more in the sensors and the platforms that we want to retain," she said.

And, ideally, it will make training on ISR platforms easier – something that Legere said is critical to future operations.

"We have to be training to do a whole lot more ISR," she said. "You saw 'Zero Dark Thirty,' right? Ninety-nine percent of the movie you're looking for the guy and the last part of the movie we actually drop the bomb. So we've got to think about that as we look at how we train."

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group