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Simulations Help Train for 'Extreme Risks'.

Military drills by all services rely increasingly on computer-based modeling

Although nothing can take the place of live-fire training, simulation technology will play a big role in preparing U.S. troops for the war against terrorism, according to Brig. Gen. Stephen M. Seay, commanding general of the Army's Simulation, Training and Instrumentation command.

"Soldiers still have to learn to deal with the extreme risks of real-life combat, and live fire is needed for that," Seay said in a recent telephone interview. "But simulation lets them experience something that's very close to the real thing, without any danger. In many cases, they don't even get dirty.

"Then, when they do go into live fire, it won't be entirely unfamiliar to them," Seay said. "Maybe they won't freeze, because if they freeze in a combat situation, it could cost them their lives."

Also, Seay said, "in simulation, when you're finished with a drill, you can go back and do it again in a matter of seconds." In live training, he said, you might have to wait hours or days, while troops are fed, showered and rested, and equipment is serviced and put back into place.

Seay's command, known as STRICOM, develops and manages training devices-many of which employ simulation technology-for the Army. With a staff of more than 500 military and civilian employees and an annual budget of $645 million, STRICOM is based in Orlando, Fla., which is the headquarters for the simulation community of the entire Defense Department, including units of the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

Those facilities are growing. The Navy's principal simulation unit-the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division-is expanding its quarters in the city, as its commanding officer told National Defense in an interview. (related story, p. 54) Also, the Marines this year completed the consolidation of their training-system acquisition functions in Orlando. (related story, p. 52)

The services were drawn to Orlando because of the presence of Disney World, Universal Studios, the University of Central Florida, the National Center for Simulation and 160 or so companies that specialize in modeling and simulation.

The entertainment industry and the military services, for decades, have shared an interest in simulation. During World War II, the Army Air Corps used flight simulators to train hundreds of thousands of aircrews. Since then, private industry has used simulation technology to design increasingly sophisticated theme-park rides, video games and computer software.

The services now are employing the same technology in almost every form of military training. Simulators are being used, for example, to teach:

* Air Force pilots to fly advanced F-16 fighters.

* Army officers to conduct brigade-size combat operations.

* Marine light armored vehicle crews to conduct urban warfare.

* Navy landing craft crews to ferry troops and equipment safely from ship to shore.

Simulators also are being used to train commanders in joint operations. Bailer this year, for instance, the U.S. Joint Forces Command's Joint Warfighting Center, in Suffolk, Va., conducted United Endeavor-a computersimulated exercise designed to sharpen the skills of joint and multinational staff officers.

The center was established in 1993 as the nation's focal point for joint and multinational doctrine development, computer war gaming and theater commander training.

During the exercise, more than 500 personnel from the four services, NATO and Partnership for Peace nations coordinated military responses to a variety of simulated crisis 4 The Army has authorized production of the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES) KXI training system, which uses laser pulses to simulate weapons firing. [Lockheed Martin phousituations resembling Kosovo, Haiti and other small-scale contingencies and peacekeeping operations.

Training on the Cheap

United Endeavor exercises are held twice a year as a way to train commanders with new, computer simulation technology "for less than one tenth of the cost" of field maneuvers, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Coleman, the exercise project officer.

Simulators provide similar savings in virtually every field of military training, according to the Arlington, Va-based National Training Systems Association (NTSA), which cites these examples:

* An hour in a simulator for a Navy P-3C Orion patrol aircraft costs $119, compared to $2,903 per hour to fly the real thing.

* In tank gunnery, the introduction of simulation has reduced the annual expenditure of ammunition from 134 to 100 rounds per tank and improved marksmanship, resulting in a yearly savings of $29 million.

* A simulation trainer for a CH-47 Chinook helicopter runs $256 per hour, as opposed to $1,771 per hour for actual flight.

Such savings have been powerful incentives for increased use of simulation during the past decade of dedining defense budgets and an increasing number of deployments, military leaders said.

In the aftermath of September's terrorist attacks, shrinking military funds may be a thing of the past, at least initially. President Bush immediately sought-and Congress approved-a $40 billion emergency supplement to the 2002 appropriations. Additional increases are considered almost certain to pay for the developing war on terrorism.

Most of this new funding, however, is likely to be allocated to the war itself and the munitions, equipment and supplies needed to fight it. "Training is not usually very high on Pentagon priorities, retired Gen. William W. Hartzog, former commanding general of the Army Training and Doctrine Command told National Defense. (related story, p. 18)

At press time, officials within the military training and simulation community were not sure what the new war would mean to their programs.

"To be honest with you, we have not heard--down at this level--what impact this is going to have on what we do," said Col. Larry B. Skapin, director of the Air Force's Training Systems Product Group (TSPG), at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. "Right now, we are trying to focus on our force protection."

One thing that the attacks do suggest is the need for improved training, said Col. Michael P. Chapin, director of TSPG's Revolutionizing Training Division. "I believe that they underscore the need for mission-rehearsal simulation capability, so that anybody who goes into harm's way would be trained before they go. It's desperately needed."

Before sending pilots on a combat mission, Chapin said, "we should build a data base containing the conditions that the pilots would face, and develop a simulation of the mission that they could use for training.

"This capability already exists in small systems," Chapin explained. The Air Force's Distributed Mission Training (DMT) simulation system allows up to four aircraft simulators to fly together in a mission training center (MTC), and they can link up electronically to another four-ship at some other base, Chapin said.

Multitudes of Pilots

Eventually, he said, DMT will allow multitudes of pilots to fly simulated missions together. "The full vision for my program is for hundreds of pilots to train together," he noted. "You should train like you're going to go in."

Two MTCs for F-15C fighter pilots became operational last year at Langley Air Force Base, Va., and Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Chapin said. "We're in the process right now of standing up an AWACS (airborne warning and control system aircraft) capability, and in less than a year, we'll bring in the F-16s." The F-16 MTCs will provide the Air Force's first air-to-ground DMT technology, Chapin said.

Eventually, the Air Force plans to establish DMT programs for the Predator unmanned air vehicle, B-1 bomber, F-22 and Joint Strike Fighter, he noted.

"We're starting to get the word our through the Air Force, and everybody wants DMT," he told an NTSA-sponsored industry briefing in Orlando earlier this year. "We know that the system will sell itself, and it has to because were in a tough funding environment."

It's time for the Air Force to raise the bar on simulation, said Col. Jerry Straw, chief of the Air Force Research Laboratory's Warfighter Training Research Division, in Mesa, Ariz.

"The simulators are here," he told the Orlando briefing. "What's really lacking today is the command and control segment. I need to be able to put decision makers' eyes anywhere in the world, and have them ready and able to make decisions."

Simulation systems have to be developed to replicate the strategies of the likely enemies of the United States, said Straw. "I'm not going to be able to get the Chinese, or the Iraqis, or the Iranians--all of our competitors out there--to come and play in our war games," he said. "I need simulations to act like the real thing."

The Army is eager to increase the use of simulation as part of its ongoing transformation process, said Seay, who also spoke at the briefing. "Let's get that technology to our soldiers while its still state of the art," he said. "The skills are in this room to make transformation succeed."

Michael R. Macedonia, STRICOM's chief scientist, asked industry representatives at the briefing to come up with innovative systems. "I'd love to have a simulated city for urban warfare," he said. "Think about that. I'd love to have your proposals."

Training facilities have to be adaptable to wherever U.S. forces deploy, Seay noted. "If you have to go to the Caspian Sea, how do you train if your facility looks like a town in Germany? Our people have to be prepared to go to Africa, the Middle East, Korea. We need training facilities that look--and smell--like the real thing."

That's not always possible, he acknowledged, and in those cases, simulation programs often are the best alternatives. It is particularly important, he said, to develop the Joint Simulation System (JSIMS) and WARSIM 2000, the Army's war-fighting simulation "We absolutely, positively need to do that," Seay said.

JSIMS--a computerized warfare simulator on a distributed system--is intended to provide combined, joint and service training across all command and staff levels. The prime contractor, TRW Inc., of Carson, Calif., is scheduled to complete the first version of the system by next March.

The program has been plagued by delays and cost overruns, but appears to be on track now, officials said.

WARSIM 2000 is being designed to provide the land component of JSIMS. Lockheed Martin Information Systems, based in Orlando, also has a March deadline.

The Army plans a major exercise in 2003 to show what these two systems can do, Seay said.

For the future, STRICOM is trying to develop what it calls a "common training instrumentation architecture"--a single system that soldiers can use at their home bases, the three Army training centers and on deployment. The problem now, Seay said, is that many Army facilities have training systems that are incompatible, and when units go on deployment, they often have none at all.

"We can no longer afford to have a brigade shut down its training programs for four to six months while it goes into Kosovo, Seay said. Future training systems are going to be deployable, he said.

One training system that is already deployable is the Army's Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System. MILES is a training device--developed two decades ago--that uses laser pulses to simulate the effects of firing actual weapons systems, from rifles to tanks. In May. STRICOM authorized Lockheed Martin Information Systems, of Orlando, to begin low-rate initial production of MILES XXI, featuring improvements such as longer-life batteries, reduced power consumption and more rugged components.
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Title Annotation:increased reliance on computer-based modeling
Author:Kennedy, Harold
Publication:National Defense
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2001
Words:1866
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