PEO STRI Soldier Training and the Central Florida Tech Grove co-hosted a roundtable event featuring Col. Cory Berg, Program Manager, PEO STRI-ST. The command PM discussed a wide range of issues in their portfolio. Halldale Group Editor Marty Kauchak highlights of current- and near-future, plans and activities.
There has been a recent surge of topics of interest and program developments in Col. Cory Berg’s portfolio – ranging from integrating lessons learned from the Ukraine-Russia War – real time – into US Army individual, unit and staff training, to investing in cutting-edge learning technologies for training activities.
Speed to Provide Relevance
The US Army remains focused to extract relevant training lessons learned from the Ukraine-Russia war. The PM pointed out his service’s CTCs (combat training centers) are “continuing to ask us to replicate those capabilities, whether it is UAS or any other engagements they are incorporating over there.” Berg then emphasized, “We want to make sure we are replicating those at the combat training centers and home stations, to ensure we can bring these quickly to bear. That is one of the challenges, as we learn what is happening and then quickly bringing that to the warfighter so they can learn it and be prepared for it on their next deployment – not three years down the road in a long-term timeline.”
Playing Better Together – Jointly
The PEO STRI PM was candid about his office’s interactions with their counterparts in the other US services. To point, he opined, “We have very limited interaction with the Air Force, a little more with the Navy and the best relationship with the US Marine Corps. There’s always room for improvement there. One of the things I would like to see is the requirements community coming closer together.” Recalling the Marine Corps is advancing Project Tripoli https://www. halldale.com/articles/20773-mst-training-one-of-top-3-investments-in-usmc-t-and-e-2030, he noted the Army has STE (Synthetic Training Environment) “and we’re trying to bring those together a little bit.”
Berg is another in the long line of Army decision makers who have asserted the service needs to move beyond its legacy MILES (multiple integrated laser engagement system) capability, as the system can no longer provide levels of rigorous, high-fidelity training for the 2023-era and beyond battlefield. In one instance, the PM pointed out MILES codes, permitting the system to be backward- as well as forward-compatible with weapons systems and weapons platforms, “are fairly limited.” While Berg said he was “being generous” in noting MILES has “hundreds of codes,” other emerging systems have “thousands.” While the Army’s acquisition roadmap for a next-generation laser engagement training capability is being solidified, the PM noted “we have to better portray to industry what we are looking for,” and added, “We’re also going to look at all the national capabilities that are basic with what other countries have. We have more MILES gear than, I think, the rest of the world. We have to expand our capabilities beyond what we have and create a better training environment.”
Putting “Soldier” in ST
The roundtable discussions focused quite heavily on training and simulation systems and products. Yet, at the end of the day, the directorate remains focused on the individual soldier – and with good reasons. In one instance, Berg noted the interesting case that some current service accessions have never had a driver’s license. Enter virtual reality and, specifically, the service’s Common Driver Trainer. “How do you put those individuals in a multi-million dollar Abrams tank and say, ‘Go drive this for 10 hours,’” he asked. In this case, the CDT permits the aspiring operator to virtually make mistakes, learn from them, and then complete live training in order to gain his or her qualifications. The PM further discussed his team’s focus on human performance and other aspects of individual-level training.
Help Wanted List
The ST directorate has four major technology challenges to overcome in order to better meet its requirements – presenting significant opportunities for industry business development and academic teams.
“Data. It’s one of the big things that is definitely a challenge to help us bring all of this together,” the PM began.
Beyond data, Berg cited the need to optimize the potential of digital twins. “The seamless interface among combat platforms is also something that’s very important to us.”
Back in the live training domain, there is the lingering and increasingly compelling requirement to move beyond MILES. “How do we converge beyond that capability? While we’re just starting to touch on it, we don’t have it to scale yet. MILES gear has been amazing – helping to make us the premier combat force that we are. But how do we get to that ‘next step,’ so there is more reality and more capability for brigades to engage in and train to a higher level. That’s a challenge for us. We haven’t ‘cracked that nut’; we need to make that happen at scale,” the PM concluded.