ORLANDO, Fla. --
“Virtual training bridges the gap between classroom and live training,” the commander of Marine Corps Systems Command told the audience of military and defense industry representatives during a panel discussion Dec. 2 at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference in Orlando, Florida.
The panel, composed of Marine Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader and representatives from the other military services and the Department of Defense, came together to discuss how to better integrate the use of live, virtual and constructive training systems by the U.S. military.
During Large Scale Exercise 2014 in August, the Marine Corps was able to demonstrate the general’s claim, as units large and small from East Coast to West used a combination of live training, and virtual and constructive simulation to participate in a common scenario. Led by 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade, the bilateral training exercise included Marines on the ground and in virtual simulators at Twentynine Palms, California; as well as in flight simulators in Yuma, Arizona, operating together, with command and control being pushed and monitored as far back as Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.
“The biggest thing I take away—from the ground perspective—is that Marines can use their ‘green’ gear—the gear they were issued—and plug into [the virtual systems],” Shrader said. “Instead of putting on a pair of virtual glasses and stepping into a virtual world and training [only] that way, these systems allow Marines to plug into the system and use the gear they’re going to fight with. There’s a lot of goodness in that.”
While the exercise validated that live, virtual and constructive—or LVC—training could be used successfully in geographically disbursed environments, among and between ground and air units, the decision of how much to use virtual training to augment live training is left largely to the unit commanders, Shrader said.
“I would argue we need a function [that mandates the use] of LVC to ensure we get the return on investment for these systems,” he said. “Ultimately, we need to tie virtual training to the standards that are contained in our training readiness manuals. The ultimate end result would be that if a Marine spends an hour in a virtual trainer, he would be able to check a box when it comes to a training standard.”
The Defense Department is planning to facilitate the development of a vision, strategy and roadmap for live and synthetic training across the department, said Frank DiGiovanni, acting deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Readiness. While the services each have individual programs, the LVC training community is “not just the services,” he said. The department’s goal is for members of academia, industry and the services to all work together to contribute good ideas to the roadmap.
Army Col. David Cannon, capability manager for U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, said LVC training integration is cost effective and overall effective in giving troops the ability to move from “brick and mortar to the field.”
“We need to get our soldiers prepared to operate and thrive in chaos and ambiguity,” he said. “With [virtual training] we have the ability to train in an environment that’s immersive. We have to understand that the world has changed and we have to train for those changes.”