This 13 October at the Virtual 2020 AUSA Warriors Corner, Colonel Charles Lombardo, Deputy Commander, Training at US Army Combined Arms Center, provided an update on his service’s live training modernization activities. Group Editor Marty Kauchak joined the webinar and files this report.
Even a casual glimpse of MS&T and its companion web site, reveals the quick-paced tempo of activities to advance technologies and programs in the virtual and constructive training domains. At the same time, the US Army and its training partners continue to rely on live training as a key to building readiness across the service’s formations. The CAC senior leader reminded the webinar audience, the live training domain is characterized by being “hot, sweaty, intense – it’s the most timeless repetition – it is the method of building readiness and lethality in our Army,” and emphasized “live training is that final gate before we enter that crucible of combat. It is imperative we provide a tough, rigorous training capability to do that.”
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Colonel Lombardo provided a vital metric of 2020-era live training, offering that “today, we can only replicate about 60 percent of those capabilities of a brigade combat team in our training centers,” – thus establishing the imperative for this land service to invest in live training modernization.
Lombardo placed the modernization strategy in further perspective, noting his service is trying to right-size and improve off of the “great technologies we had in the 1990s and carried us for 30 years.” These legacy-era technologies, familiar to MS&T followers, include MILES (multiple-integrated-laser-engagement-system) and its iterative systems. Speaking to the constraints of legacy-era MILES technologies, he first recalled these are limited to direct fire weapon systems, and require a laser to sensor, to “hit” and provide feedback. Other current system limitations are the exclusion of key weapons in the service’s order of battle, some of which include MK19, M320 Grenade Launcher Module and other counter-defilade systems. These shortfalls preclude realistic force-on-force replication, stimulation, and other capabilities. The service senior officer further declared “the current MILES we have today is reaching its end point, its economic useful life, and at some point in the future, will require very significant funding to remain functional past fiscal year 2026. We have to get the next iteration and next version of live MILES into the training force.”
Moving up from the systems level, Lombardo issued a “help wanted” call to webinar observers, noting this command also needs help, through input and feedback, to “merge and improve the necessity of live training with the capabilities and the emerging technologies, in a ‘synthetic wrap’, if you will, of what we currently have going on – to bring all of that together.”
Offering one end state from live training modernization, Lombardo said the Army’s future live training systems will conceptually enable units to use their whole suite of organic weapons and provide greater realism for soldiers. To that end, future live training will be less “brick and mortar”. The CAC senior officer continued, “within live training we’ll be able to simultaneously, as we’re doing live repetitions, use a lot of our virtual and constructive, as we pull them out of the brick and mortar, and provide a more agile TADSS (Training Aids, Devices, Simulations and Simulators (TADSS) out to the formation.”
Lombardo further observed, the service has a target date of fiscal year 2026, for an initial capacity of a combined arms task force. He explained, “This will be more networked, based on the backbone of existing technologies – working where we are at with HITS [Home Station Instrumentation Training System], for example – working through and removing a lot of the analogue, closed-in systems. This will help build the speed of realism and replication, and maintain currency – a stimulus – for the soldier, or rifle team, or tank crew that is in the fight. This will take out the artificialities of some our current TADSS that we have been relying on over the past 30 years.”
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The CAC is concurrently watching the development of other enabling technologies, including synthetic training environment and LVC-IA (live, virtual, constructive-integrating architecture), to help build the overarching synthetic wrap for training at service training centers.
Of further interest to MS&T’s many non-US followers, the US Army is also focused in moving its live training modernization strategy beyond service training audiences – to the joint (with other US services) level, and as significant, the combined and allied levels. To that end, Lombardo rhetorically asked, that when operating with allies and MILES, “Do we have the interoperability to work with our partners, to where it is the software that we are manipulating, to enable our partners and allies to maintain the pace with our modernization, and we synchronize those modernization effects to provide an overwhelming friendly force, and build our allies’ forces and power so we can compete and win?”