Wanted: Portable simulators for in-theater training
The demands of maintaining troop readiness have become so severe and continuous that it is now something of a liability -- and a costly one -- to wait until troops are between deployments to train them in the latest battlefield techniques.
The solution? Inexpensive, portable simulators that can be used to train troops while they are in theater, according to U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Glenn Walters, who spoke Dec. 4 at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference.
“It has got to be smaller. It has got to be transportable. It has got to be cheap, because we're going to have forces spread out all over,” Walters said, according to a report in National Defense magazine. Walters is Commanding General of the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing.
Portable simulation technology would not only enhance military readiness, Walters told contractors, it would do so at a cost that is more in line with today’s lean budget realities. A case in point, he said, was the shortage of trained joint tactical air controllers at the beginning of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
“Our JTAC training is on track,” Walter said, according to National Defense. “About a third of their training is now done on a simulator. Personally, I think it needs to get up to 50 percent."
Without the training and simulators, he estimated the military would have seen double or triple the casualties, according to National Defense.
That type of cost-benefit trade-off makes simulation-tech providers more optimistic about maintaining demand for the technology during the current budget negotiations, according to LeAnn Ridgeway, vice president of simulation and training services at Rockwell Collins.
"With sequestration, we understand that DOD funding might be cut across the board,” she told Military Training and Simulation News, “however, there will still be a need for simulation and training systems to enable the DOD to remain mission ready.”