As a 10th Mountain Division brigade combat team waged mock warfare at Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, La., its members sent periodic bursts of logistics data back home to Fort Drum, N.Y. Instead of requests for beans or bullets, however, the messages were part of another baby step on the US Army’s road to seamless live-virtual-constructive exercises.
Someday, Army leaders say, units scattered around the country will routinely come together virtually in exercises that test all aspects of the warfighting enterprise yet consume just a fraction of the travel budget. Ultimately, long-term projects such as the Live, Virtual, Constructive — Integrating Architecture will smoothly handle the complex coordination of all different kinds of networks, simulations and technology.
But before that dream comes true, there are a lot of smaller problems to work out. For the moment, the military’s simulation leaders are working on shorter-term, less ambitious projects such as this one.
“It’s more of an intermediate objective to the LVC-IA,” said Maj. Brian Hanley, an exercise planner with the Global Simulation Capability, part of the National Simulation Center. “The LVC-IA is looking a little bit further down the road. We’re looking at how we can do it right now with the capabilities that we have, without requiring additional research or resources.”
In the June 10-14 exercise, planners practiced moving logistics data — such as how much food, water, or ammunition the units have — into a constructive simulation meant for the sustainment brigade staff without erasing crucial information or leaking secret data onto an unclassified network.
So far, the data flows in only one direction, which may seem a far cry from the rapid back-and-forth linkages one would expect. But the transfer is complicated because the data is collected in one format at the combat training center and must be transformed into another format for plugging into the constructive simulation at home station. It requires a few hours and several computers talking to one another to organize the data, export it, and place it safely into the constructive simulation without accidentally affecting other information in the system.
This exercise was phase two; phase three will actually see the data put into a simulation where it will provide additional realistic data and create a richer experience for the division command staff. No date has been set yet.
The hope is to streamline the process to bring down the transfer time and incorporate the data into the constructive simulation. If successful, other divisions that typically have two to three brigades execute a CTC rotation per year could provide similar opportunities to train their related division staffs at home.
“That’s really what we’re looking at — creating more opportunities for division and functional brigade headquarters to conduct training at home station by piggybacking on another portion of their element conducting a training rotation,” Hanley said.