Navy, Marines in search of training systems with specific adversaries, ability to track individual performance

ORLANDO – As the US Navy and US Marine Corps reorganize to defeat sophisticated adversaries around the world, maritime service chiefs say they need virtual training systems that can go beyond simple “representations and series” and accurately reflect the fight they expect to fight. face off as well as demonstrate just how well prepared Sailors and Marines are for this fight.

Marine Corps Commander Gen. David Berger said the service is urgently moving to reshape the force, its operational concepts and training for China’s high-end stimulation threat. But it struggles to fully replicate the behavior of China or other adversaries in its simulators and other training systems, and this is a key area where the industry can help.

“We envision our opponent thinking, operating and fighting the way we do, which is a big mistake,” Berger said Nov. 30 at the annual inter-department / industry training, simulation and education conference. “In other words, modeling and simulation can help integrate how we think the adversary is going to fight, how they are going to operate, which is not necessarily what we would do.”

“We need help to create the software, the simulation, which does not replicate us, it replicates the adversary, whether it is Russia or Iran or the [People’s Republic of China], [People’s Liberation Army], “he continued.” They are all going to work differently, so we need the loyalty to allow us, our practitioners, to see that they don’t think like us. “

Berger noted that the training gold standard works against a thoughtful adversary who responds to decisions made by US military leaders and units undergoing training, rather than using pre-programmed movements. Yet, it is difficult for an American to put aside years or decades of training and fully replicate the behaviors and mindsets of a Chinese or Russian military unit while playing the aggressor in a training scenario, and therefore a software simulation which can be both precise for the adversary as well as a reactivity to the actions undertaken within the framework of the exercise would be the ideal.

Berger added that in order to prepare for a high-end adversary, the services also need training systems that can merge with systems from other services and other foreign armies.

“We assumed we were going to need an asymmetric approach. In other words, we are not going to build muscle, overcome this threat of stimulation; you have to have an asymmetric advantage. And the asymmetric advantage we have is our ability to function as a team, ”he said.

“So how do we take it to the next level? The way we do it, obviously, is to train together. But the obstacles against that are, I think, what this forum has been focusing on in recent years is that each of us has proprietary training systems; now we know we have to operate, train together, but they own it. How to merge them?

In addition to creating these training systems to better prepare the force for success against a peer threat, Berger and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said the technology also exists to better track individual skills, performance and progress, and they want to use some of this technology to increase performance of individuals and units.

“What we’re really looking for is combat proficiency, of which reps and sets are a component,” Gilday said. “But to understand how, down to the individual level, not only what we’re good at, but what we’re deficient in, then focus on those shortcomings in a way that raises the bar for individuals and then collectively within the ‘team’ should be the ultimate goal of training.

The NOC described something like a baseball card for each sailor, with clear metrics that can show strengths and weaknesses compared to other sailors.

In the explosives and ordnance community, for example, Gilday said sailors train using systems that can measure their physical and mental performance and watch for signs of fatigue. This technology could be applied more widely to better understand individual performance, he said.

In addition, this “baseball card” could include measures on work performance as well as physical and mental performance. He said the Navy had learned a lot in its efforts to achieve an 80% mission capacity rate for its fleet of fighter jets, when the service completely revamped its maintenance practices rather than spending more money on be more ready. Gilday said the Navy assumed all maintainers in their jobs were competent, but some Sailors were assigned to jobs – or lead other Sailors into jobs – that they had not done recently and for which they were not properly trained.

For example, he said, if a sailor hasn’t made an engine change for three years, why does that sailor run the shop that does the engine changes? With a better understanding of each Sailor’s training and past experiences, as well as their demonstrated skills, the Navy is succeeding in properly assigning Sailors to the jobs where they can contribute the most, and Gilday said he wanted to see that expanded. to other communities. .

Berger said the technology exists outside the military to do this – in the fitness world – and the military could easily adapt the technology to track physical fitness, job skills, training history. and more from service members.

Noting that his hotel here had two Peloton bikes in his gym, he remarked, “You can ride that Peloton bike this morning here in Orlando, plug in your profile if you live in Illinois and continue your workout. And all of your training from the last three years on Peloton bikes is here. Why can’t we do this for aircraft maintenance? Why can’t we do this for just any trade?

Megan Eckstein is the naval war reporter for Defense News. She has been covering military news since 2009, focusing on US Navy and Marine Corps operations, procurement programs, and budgets. She has reported on four geographic fleets and is happiest reporting stories from a ship. Megan is a University of Maryland alumnus.

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