The Air Force has formed a new “Council of Colonels” as part of its response to the recent Government Accountability Office report that the service’s virtual training efforts lack oversight and create inefficiencies.
The Live, Virtual, and Constructive Operational Training (LVC-OT) Council of Colonels is intended to “identify the gaps/shortfalls” and “prioritize and focus budget/program deliberations across the operational training communities,” said Lt. Col. Max Despain, a public affairs officer for the Air Force.
The council will have the power to evaluate and restructure operations to meet new oversight requirements and will also help implement the LVC-OT Flight Plan. Now in the “final stages of Flag-level coordination,” the plan will direct major commands on operational issues concerning virtual training.
Members of the council, which includes representatives from Headquarters Air Force, major commands, AQ (Acquisition), and A8 (Plans and Programs), will meet semiannually. The council will also direct efforts by HAF and major commands to standardize LVC-OT accounting and tracking, another problem singled out in the GAO report. Under guidance from the council, staff will revamp the Aviation Resource Management System so that it can “capture projected and executed weapon system LVC-OT cost data.”
The watchdog agency found that the Air Force was unable to determine the savings from virtual training because it lacked a standard way to keep track of such costs. For example, service officials estimated they would save $1.7 billion from 2012 to 2016 by switching some live flight training hours to simulators but neglected to factor in costs of attending and using the virtual trainers.
The Air Force also plans to rewrite the AF Instruction 36-2251 (Management of Air Force Training Systems) with a common method for collecting and measuring LVC-OT systems data.
GAO reported that the Air Force lacked “some key elements of an overarching organizational framework” that would “define goals, align efforts, and establish investment priorities.”
The Air Force intends the new council to fill some of this role but has also reworked other parts of the service to consolidate modeling and simulation efforts.
The service will concentrate oversight and guidance for virtual training in AF/A3/5 (Operations, Plans and Requirements). A3/5 recently subsumed the Modeling and Simulation Policy Division, as well as the Air Force Agency for Modeling and Simulation (AFAMS). AFAMS is expected to coordinate modeling and simulation operations by integrating “LVC environments for USAF, Joint and Coalition operational training.”
Officials say the “functional responsibilities” will go to Operations, AF/A9 (Analysis), and SAF/AQ (Acquisition), while staff at AF/A3O will track and manage virtual costs.
The ultimate goal of restructuring is to improve the interoperability between organizations and products by designating one entity to enforce the standards, thus reducing costs associated with incompatible programs.
“The addition of new cyber, space, and 5th-generation weapon systems is generating significant reliance on integrated, interoperable simulator and simulation capabilities,” Despain said.