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Army Cracks Down on Unauthorized Training Games

Nov. 26, 2012 - 04:02PM   |  
By MICHAEL PECK   |   Comments
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An Army Training & Doctrine Command directive warns Army training centers against using unauthorized games, simulators and other training aids.

TRADOC Policy Letter 21, signed in August by TRADOC commander Gen. Robert Cone, decrees that before any TRADOC organization may acquire or develop any games or training aids, devices, simulators and simulations (TADSS), it must contact the appropriate TRADOC capability manager (TCM) at the Combined Arms Center-Training at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

“The Army cannot afford TADSS that provide singular solutions or cannot be integrated with other TADSS in the integrated training environment,” Cone wrote. “We also cannot afford to have money diverted from other programs to support procurement of non-program of record, school-unique TADSS and high-licensing fees.”

CAC-T deputy director Dennis Tighe, who drafted the directive, promises that TRADOC will not confiscate existing non-authorized training aids.

“We won’t have a TADSS Police going from post to post,” Tighe said. “We’re not going to say, ‘We’ll shut down your MTC [mission training complex] if you violate it.’”

Instead of a stick, CAC-T offers a carrot: Commanders who funnel their requirements through the center can draw upon Department of the Army funds for their TADSS needs; those who go it alone must pay out of their own operations and maintenance budget.

“If you have some commander out there who is using his OMA funds to go out and buy stuff locally, he’s going to have to keep paying those funds out of his pocket,” Tighe said.

Authorized TADSS go through extensive testing to ensure they meet training requirements, Tighe noted, while prototype contractor-initiated programs may not.

“Locally procured TADSS are not [Department of the Army]-funded programs of record: commanders must take money from other priorities to obtain and maintain and sustain the self-procured TADSS,” Tighe said.

The goal of the directive is to eliminate duplication and allow various Army training centers to take advantage of training aids that were acquired by the others. Organizations that require a training game, for example, would contact the TRADOC capability manager for gaming, who would find the right one.

“Don’t tell us which game you want. Tell us which capabilities you want,” Tighe said. “The onus is on the TRADOC capability manager to get at those requirements, integrate them and make sure we’re spending our money wisely.”

TRADOC also wants to ensure that training aids are compatible with the Integrated Training Environment, which is the Army’s live-virtual-constructive training framework.

“What the memo really says is: ‘Don’t be using your own OMA money to go out and buy stuff that is only good for your organization,’” Tighe said.

The directive followed CAC-T’s discovery that “a lot of people were going out on their own,” Tighe said.

He couldn’t provide an estimate of how many local training aids exist.

The TRADOC letter cites games several times, but Tighe says it is “not intended to stop gaming. What is intended is that if people have a requirement for games, it goes through TCM Gaming to make sure that we don’t have people spending money on games that can’t be used by other people, or games that can’t be integrated into the ITE.”

CAC-T is also concerned about non-gaming training aids. Tighe noted that trainers sometimes turn to non-regulation simulators when commanders grow impatient with standard acquisition procedures.

Tighe also expressed concern that “non DA-approved TADSS might teach soldiers bad habits that can have a negative impact on how they execute actual operations.”

He couldn’t point to any actual training problems caused by unofficial training aids.

A captain at an East Coast training installation fears that depriving local commanders of the freedom to procure training aids will stifle creative solutions.

“In the end, the memo will kill innovation and creativity as organizations seek to maintain the status quo within their shrinking budgets. All the letter reinforces is how the higher level managers are out of touch with where education actually takes place,” said the officer.

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