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Navy Center for advanced modeling and simulation: a one-of-a-kind center for the Navy uniquely suited to design the force multipliers of synthetic training and testing in support of fleet readiness, exercises and wargaming, as well as concept generation and experimentation.

Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC) is the Navy's champion for the rapid generation and development of game-changing innovations in concepts and doctrine to enhance maritime capability at the operational level enabling seamless integration in the joint and coalition arena.

Among NWDC's many capabilities is the Navy Center for Advanced Modeling and Simulation (NCAMS) operated by NWDC's modeling and simulation (M&S) directorate. The directorate conducts state-of-the-art, high-fidelity modeling and simulation that enables the Navy's end-to-end training continuum, supports concept generation and development, executes key fleet exercises, and provides high-end, analytical wargaming and experimentation.

"NCAMS is the most sophisticated modeling and simulation development lab in the Navy," said M&S deputy director Darrel Morben, and he proved it with a tour of the remarkable 10,000 square-foot facility in February for CHIPS staff. Morben led the CHIPS staff to each component of the lab while explaining how an event unfolds.

NCAMS is not only where the capacity and bandwidth of the network are actively monitored, but also where the "synthetic battlespace" is generated. Behaviorally realistic platforms, such as tanks, ships and aircraft, operate inside real-time integrated environmental effects supported by authoritative Navy databases to model realistic conditions.

NCAMS Components

Exercise control is the operational heart for synthetic events supported by NCAMS. The elevated platform located in the center of the lab is where the control director supervises the simulation as the control group, manning workstations, monitors the event, documenting actions and decisions for later review by the analysis group. The "sim" operators at workstations on the main lab floor control the virtual entities that populate the synthetic battlespace while liaison officers generate the voice communication to stimulate the exercise or experiment sometimes over a 13-hour shift. Events can last several days or even weeks.

In the engineering bay, software engineers create the core simulation, and network engineers develop and test new methods to transport the simulation and command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I), to dispersed geographic locations. Interface engineers integrate the simulation with each partnering system or unit; weapons and C4I systems engineers connect and stimulate onboard systems; and control engineers reduce the variables and increase the reliability of the simulation.

The concentration of modeling and simulation and engineering innovation is rooted in the realities of warfighter needs, gaps and challenges. Much of the success of NCAMS can be credited to the flexibility of the engineers, according to Morben. "The engineers resolve technical issues or process issues on the fly--that makes the event come together."

NCAMS Infrastructure

NWDC operates a robust high-speed, switched IP network that provides reliable bandwidth 24/7. The network includes NWDC's Navy Continuous Training Environment (NCTE) and Navy's Joint Semi-Automated Forces (JSAF).

Designed and maintained by the NWDC modeling and simulation directorate, NCTE is a global network infrastructure and integrated communications enterprise. NCTE provides a complete simulation environment of the entirety of war, meaning the complete battlespace with all the dynamic systems, physical models and environmental factors, as well as everyone operating inside it.

NWDC is the program manager for JSAF, a simulation system that generates entity-level simulations that interact individually in a synthetic environment. Individual entities include infantrymen, tanks, ships, aircraft, munitions, buildings and sensors that can be controlled separately or organized into appropriate units for a given mission.

Simulated events are sponsored by many organizations, including the Chief of Naval Operations, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Office of Naval Research, Office of the Secretary of Defense and combatant commanders, as well as from within NWDC for concept experimentation and validation of concepts under development. Many of these events are joint in nature involving the other services. Coalition forces can also participate once they have been integrated into NCTE. The NCTE has the capability to support multiple events simultaneously. For example, Navy vessels at piers around the globe tie into the network that delivers modeling and simulation data to stimulate the combat and C4I systems on board. Sailors get better training because they train at their workstations, and they can respond to more realistic threats, according to Morben.

"Sailors are getting better training through the use of distributed M&S. For example, in ballistic missile defense training, we can provide a realistic simulation of the threat, so modeling and simulation is very important to BMD training."

Sometimes in an experiment or exercise, something unexpected can occur, but Morben said that's OK. "It's good because we are using ships' systems during the exercise, and you will have the same kinds of equipment failures in the real world. It could be a maintenance issue or problem with comms gear."

Flight simulators and other federated training devices using the NCTE simulation architecture can also connect into the virtual environment and participate in an event. In addition to providing the network connectivity and integration services, the NCTE also provides the tools that training commands use to generate the synthetic scenario, including the rich level of environmental detail necessary to properly stimulate all signal gear and monitoring equipment.

The NCTE network delivers real-time voice and command and control among distributed participants even though units may actually be on different sides of the world.

While NCAMS may be hosting one event, other training sites may also be using the NCTE network to distribute synthetic events at the same time. NCTE is not only the largest and most reliable simulation network in the world, but at any given time, it may be supporting multiple training, exercises, experimentation, wargaming or concept development events. The infrastructure extends to all fleet concentration areas on both coasts and the Pacific Rim, all operational naval air stations with air simulators, and connection to an expanding number of coalition forces, represented by the many national flags suspended from the ceiling in the facility. NCTE also partners with the Joint Training and Experimentation Network to distribute simulation to participating locations of the other services and joint forces. "NCTE and JTEN enable real-time battle simulation aboard ships and with joint (Air Force and Army training simulators) and coalition partners," Morben said.

The Simulations

There are many different types of simulation exercises, in addition to strategic engagement scenarios, such as humanitarian relief, search and rescue operations, and resupply. Experimentation and concept generation can include new or hypothetical systems prior to acquisition, as well as examination and analysis of new operational schemes of maneuver.

The NCTE uses combinations of three forms of simulation in the exercises and experiments it distributes: live, virtual and constructive. Live simulations involve real people using real systems, typically on a range, to simulate other real systems. An example of a live simulation is a U.S. Navy submarine playing the role of an enemy submarine.

Virtual simulations involve real people using simulated systems, such as a cockpit simulator, instead of real equipment. Constructive simulations involve simulated ships, aircraft and other units controlled by simulation operators, who act behind the scenes to stimulate the training audience--without controlling the outcome of the event. The combination of the forms of simulation enables the focus to be on "man-in-the-loop" decision making with the NCTE simulating the battlespace and stimulating onboard combat and C4I systems so that console operators can report information to officers making warfighting decisions. These actions are then populated across the NCTE to all other participants, thus expanding the man-in-the-loop involvement beyond the individual unit and across the entire integrated joint warfighting team.

With a diminishing defense budget, synthetic training and experimentation are important, according to Morben. "When we began to do modeling and simulation it was in addition to live training, but because of the quality and confidence that planners and decision makers have in the modeling and simulation, we see an increase. Modeling and simulation can insert a level of complexity and multiple events that cannot be duplicated in live training. Cost avoidance is also important. A 2008 CNA (Center for Naval Analyses) study estimated the annual cost savings of simulation training in hundreds of millions of dollars. "

It takes at least six months and often, the directorate has a year, to build a complex event, Morben said. "We need the time to build the concept and architecture which includes the network, simulation and software. We build what we call a MSEL, master scenario event list based on training objectives. For more routine events, the timelines are much shorter."

The value and operational relevance of NCTE is exemplified by the full calendar of events occurring year-round since 1998 in support of fleet readiness and experimentation demands. "The requests for exercises and experiments are increasing with more than 350 synthetic events planned for NCTE next year," Morben said.

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Holly Quick is a contributor to CHIPS and supports the public affairs office of SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic. For more information about NWDC, go to http://www.navy.mil/local/nwdc/.
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Author:Quick, Holly
Publication:CHIPS
Date:Apr 1, 2011
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