AMSO Forum agenda items typically include discussing and sharing ideas (as in above working group) on M&S tools, models and best practices, developing AMSO micro-investments, and other enterprise-level topics from the domain. Image credit: AMSO/Eugene Davis.
Group editor Marty Kauchak provides an update on developments at Defense Modeling and Simulation Coordination Office and Army Modeling and Simulation Office.

[Editor’s note: this article is presented in condensed format in MS&T issue 2/2018].

The 3rd Annual Army M&S Forum 2018 convened this February. On February 28, after the event’s conclusion, MS&T spoke with two, senior US DoD forum participants. Jesse Citizen, the Director of Defense Modeling and Simulation Coordination Office (DMSCO), and Colonel Joseph Nolan, the Deputy Director at Army Modeling and Simulation Office (AMSO), shared their insights about significant enterprise-level issues emerging from the forum and in progress in their offices.

“Wingman” for the Army

DMSCO is the Pentagon’s focal point for national and international collaboration in the M&S domain. “Our core customers are the US military departments’ services,” explained Jesse Citizen, the office’s director. With respect to the Army, DMSCO is integrally involved in enhancing service M&S activities. While the Office has sent representatives to the last three annual Army M&S Forums, it also participates in the service’s M&S General Officer M&S Steering Committee, the Council of Colonels for M&S, and lower-level M&S working groups. “The Army has allowed DMSCO, as the enterprise manager of M&S, to gain a better understanding of what the Army’s needs are, at the intra-service and joint levels,” Citizen added. The DMSCO Director, recalling his active duty days as a US Air Force aircrew, likened the relationship “to being a wingman for the Army, being there to assist when we can, better understand their M&S issues and meet their needs (service, joint and international), and better collaborate with the Air Force, Navy and Marines.”

The retired Air Force colonel also noted that the Army and the other US services are regular participants at DMSCO’s quarterly Modeling and Simulation Deputies Forum, allowing the services to be present and address their “gaps and needs”.

For its part, the office is taking its review of gaps and needs to a higher level. “We’re conducting a gap analysis that is broader but builds upon the Army’s analysis and prior experience in that area. Leigh Yu, DMSCO’s Deputy, is leading this effort,” Citizen said and continued, “And as we look at those gaps, that will help us inform our defense M&S stakeholders and Office of Secretary of Defense leadership on where we need to focus attention in the upcoming years.”

The DMSCO Director highlighted other efforts in progress at his Alexandria, Virginia-based office.

A second new, ongoing enterprise-level activity is DMSCO’s development of the Defense M&S Reference Architecture lead by Brian Miller, Army’s Communication-Electronics, Research Development and Engineering Center.

Another project finds DMSCO developing the DoD M&S Guidebook. The document is a compilation of best practices the office will gather from its M&S stakeholders and develop in-house.

“We also have an M&S Framework Study that is being done, that will look at and capture the frameworks being used by the Department’s M&S stakeholders. These outcomes will be used to help us determine where we should take the M&S Guidebook, previously noted, in the future,” Citizen said. This study is also supported by the services’ M&S stakeholders. The director emphasized, “The outcomes could also influence our acquisition of M&S tools and their use in future training.”

When asked to cite other “deliverables” or other outcomes from DMSCO’s interactions with the US Army and others in the defense M&S community, Citizen initially highlighted the Defense M&S Catalog. The program was established by the office to support visibility and to provide an avenue for M&S organizations to make resources available for reuse. “The catalog has both a discovery as well as contribution features within it,” the director remarked and continued, “The discovery side is enabled by an industry developed search and discovery tool. The other is an industry developed government-owned tool, the Enterprise Metadata Builder Resource; it supports the contribution side.” The Catalog, available to DoD approved public key infrastructure (PKI) card holders, allows the reuse of content populated by the community of practitioners.

A second return on investment from community engagement, is derived from the office’s selective co-funding of Army-sponsored and -led M&S activities that were in the best interest of the service and broader Defense Department’s interests to develop.

DMSCO also cooperates with US allies and friends, further allowing the US Defense Department to be engaged as it “intends to fight in the future”. With 2018 ITEC on MS&T’s editorial horizon, it’s of interest to note that the office is also involved in other international activities, with Yu concurrently serving as chair of the NATO Modeling & Simulation Group, with Susan Harkrider, from the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command, leading the US delegation to the Group.

The retired Air Force colonel added, “In addition, DMSCO is also involved in the Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization sub-working group, the Simulation Innovation Workshop. We participate in and are a contributor to its operation.” The office’s participation is an extension of wider US DoD participation in other international organizations – with each of the services represented in these forums, all focused on developing M&S standards in the international environment designed to benefit M&S stakeholders.

In a third M&S international program thrust, DMSCO is leading The Technical Cooperation Program. Through the Program, the participants are prototyping the Virtual Interoperability Prototyping and Research Environment (VIPRE) capability to provide a cooperative M&S framework for Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and the US.  The AMSO staff is integrally involved in VIPRE.

Building Once, Reusing Often at Every Level            

AMSO is the office at Headquarters, Department of the Army, assigned to manage the M&S enterprise on behalf of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8. Nolan emphasized his organization’s mantra remains: building once, reusing often at every level. To that end, the M&S Forum has become one Office’s governance activity to harmonize common investments across the service’s six M&S-enabled domains. “It provides an opportunity, in a forum, where M&S community personnel who don’t frequently have an opportunity to engage and talk, can do so about relevant topics, such as common investments,” Nolan explained. Forum agenda items typically include discussing and sharing ideas on M&S tools, models and best practices, developing AMSO micro-investments, and other enterprise-level topics from the domain.

The 2016 Army M&S Forum was focused in-house – for service participants, with the 2017 event expanded to include co-sponsorship and strong participation by the US Marine Corps. This February’s forum further increased the scope of participants, to include co-sponsorship with DMSCO and M&S experts from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. “This is the first time this [international participation] has ever been done. We’re gradually expanding that ‘circle’ to increase the body of knowledge – to figure out what is out there – and come up with more complex and comprehensive, micro-investments to tackle some of these common problems that we all have,” Nolan remarked.

The most positive feedback on the 2018 AMSO Forum was reported to originate from the international partners, who were permitted to sit in AMSO-sponsored working groups for the first time and discuss, in detail, M&S problems in their programs. The Army M&S expert pointed out, “These were problems they can do something about. Many times we engage at the national level and talk about cyber, logistics, terrain and other challenges. We don’t actually get a chance to sit with our international partners, roll up our sleeves and ask in-depth questions. This forum allowed the international representatives to work in the different working groups, gain a good sense of where the US is at, and in some instances, they brought solutions with them that we didn’t have visibility on. We’re sharing them under the charter. It’s a real win for us this year.”

Nolan also seized the opportunity to tell MS&T about other AMSO activities. At the top of his list was the concept of One World Terrain. The topic has been bubbling up to the level of higher visibility within the services, industry and academia for a number of years. While Nolan evaluated achieving a One World Terrain as “not technically hard,” he offered, “It is complex.” For instance, those seeking to advance this concept must ensure they are on the current versions of Distributed Interactive Simulation or High-Level Architecture, and complete rigorous testing. For its part, the Army is looking to move toward an architecture where terrain is delivered much like the cloud services supporting tablets and other e-devices. Nolan explained, “This would be cloud-delivered terrain, machine-rendered at the point of use instead of having artists spending hours building this. Then we would have that capability for both C4I systems and modeling and simulation.” One World Terrain is not part of a program of record, but rather is a funded, science and technology concept supported by AMSO and other service activities.

The author noted efforts by Rockwell Collins and other companies in the simulation and training industry to advance the technology baseline for terrain data and similar products, and asked the AMSO Deputy Director about the inclusion of this community in this effort. Nolan recalled that AMSO conducted a One World Terrain demonstration at 2017 I/ITSEC and emphasized this collaboration will continue. “You are exactly right. We don’t have the market cornered on good ideas. We wanted to be able to demonstrate what we’re talking about. There are a lot of internal research and development dollars within industry tackling this problem set. We want to include our industry partners in developing an affordable, supportable common solution.”

Another evolving Army S&T thrust which has been followed by this author is the Synthetic Training Environment (STE). The project is designed to provide a cognitive, collective, multi-echelon training and mission rehearsal capability for the operational, institutional and self-development training domains. STE is expected to bring together the virtual, constructive and gaming training environments into a single construct service. The concept is being refined, as are the underpinning requirements, for the evolving capability. The AMSO Deputy Director noted, “We can validate the science in anticipation of emerging requirements. This office is focused on the fundamental ‘building blocks’ that we’re going to need regardless of where this new STE architecture takes us.”

The National Simulation Center (Fort Leavenworth, Kansas) is the service lead for developing STE.

AMSO is also focused on better using data for future capabilities through the Unified Data Effort. The emerging, policy-level project is designed to ensure there is adequate access to simulation-sufficient data from authoritative sources to the point of need. While the Army obtains authoritative training products and data from service and other US government sources, it is often challenging to gain access to the data due to competing requirements. Nolan summarized, “The Unified Data Effort is designed to make access to authoritative data for M&S easier to get at.”

Flurry of Activities

Diverse enterprise-level activities are being initiated and supported, at DMSCO and AMSO. Of significance, the US DoD’s M&S efforts are expanding their participation base into the international arena and continue to include industry stakeholders. With STE and other projects gaining momentum, MS&T will continue to monitor and report on the quickening pace of events in the US defense M&S arena.