ARLINGTON, Va. — Staff from the U.S. Army’s National Simulation Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, have tested a new variant of a tool they say will help soldiers prepare for battle more effectively and efficiently.
The Live, Virtual, Constructive Integrating Architecture, or LVC-IA, is a system of systems that links separate simulators and simulations across disparate geographies. The newly introduced capability represents the fourth version of the system, which was first fielded in 2012.
The Army uses a variety of simulation tools to prepare soldiers for combat, with training that covers everything from field artillery operations to air-ground coordination. The aim of this fourth LVC-IA variant is “to take these systems that were designed to do a specific thing, in a specific environment, and bring them together in an integrated training environment,” said Christopher Vaughn, a developer at the National Simulation Center.
That integrated environment delivers what Vaugh described as a “constructive capability” — a live, interactive experience in which commanders at one of 12 mission training complexes across the Army can provide simulated data to soldiers using highly realistic systems.
“It’s real people training on simulated equipment, and now they are part of the operation,” Vaughn said. “They are actual soldiers, downrange, on their home-station training systems, and they are running an actual operation.”
By engaging trainees with real-life commanders, the system greatly increases the depth of learning available in a simulated environment. “It expands your battle space and it gives you additional resources you may not have had available before,” said Maj. Matthew Gordon, chief of games for training at the National Simulation Center.
“If I’ve never driven a tank before, I can jump into the tank in that virtual environment,” Gordon added. “At the same time, I’m reporting my position up to a command post or tactical operations center to give a battalion or a company staff a real live feed of what my position is and what my current status is.”
That high degree of interactivity offers a level of realism previously unavailable. And the geographic reach of the LVC-IA is key to its utility.
“If I’m at Fort Benning, Georgia, and I’m incorporating air support into my exercise, maybe I don’t have a lot of pilots on hand,” Gordon said. But with a simple, lightweight extension kit, it’s possible to plug into the LCV-IA and connect with pilots elsewhere.
“You don’t have to just be in one spot in order to incorporate the subject matter experts and give a realistic feel to that training,” Gordon added.
That high degree of portability has the potential to make a more robust and more uniform training capability available across multiple military components, including the National Guard and Reserves.
“They have soldiers who want to train as they fight, and this offers a way to bring them into an exercise,” Vaughn said. “We can give that extension kit to the Guard, and as long as they have some sort of network connectivity, they can take part in that exercise.”
Connectivity is key to making the most of LVC-IA. While the Army is seeking solutions to ensure connectivity in the field, Gordon said, the emergence of the Synthetic Training Environment, or STE, currently under development promises to widen the availability of the improved training tools.
“What we need to be able to do is take our simulators and make them highly portable, make them link into a common network and interoperate simultaneously over a cloud network,” Gordon said. “The STE aims to answer that question with cloud access to enable us to train simultaneously. It will enable units to run an exercise with much less overhead to reach a wider audience with more instantaneousness.”
The net result is meant to be troops that can more quickly and effectively fight.
“It shortens your training curve,” Vaughn said. “Now you show up to the National Training Center in California, and maybe you need a day or two to brush off the cobwebs and then you’re ready to go. You’re not sitting there looking at something you haven’t seen for many months. You’ve already practiced, you’ve rehearsed and you’re ready.”