• Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, USA, STE cross-functional team director, Army Futures Command, addresses the AFCEA TechNet Augusta conference. Photo by Michael Carpenter
     Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, USA, STE cross-functional team director, Army Futures Command, addresses the AFCEA TechNet Augusta conference. Photo by Michael Carpenter

Training at the Point of Need Boosts Soldier Lethality

August 22, 2019
By Beverly M. Cooper


Using commercial gaming and simulation technology, the Army improves training, terrain knowledge and readiness.


The second revolution in training for the Army environment is underway with the Synthetic Training Environment (STE) (see video below), which will be the first holistic training strategy for the Army, according to Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, USA, STE cross-functional team director, Army Futures Command. The first revolution occurred in the 1980s with the live combat training centers, she said during a keynote address at the AFCEA TechNet Augusta conference.

The STE will be delivered via the network to enable the Army to train as it fights. It will specifically address solider and team lethality by putting training at the point of need. The key, according to Gen. Gervais, will be to have the right communications infrastructure in place with the right data strategy. The training system will feature immersive and intuitive capabilities with live virtual constructive simulations in a cohesive training capability.

The environment will feature high-detail One World Data in a command post training environment and better situational awareness than satellite communications alone. The STE will converge live, virtual and constructive capability.

“We are thinking about training in the beginning with this, before we think about the material solutions,” she explained, “and I am very excited about the change in paradigm.”

The cost will be mitigated by looking to the virtual gaming and telecommunications industries, where that technology is exploding, said the general. The plan is to leverage 85 to 90 percent from those industries. The system will feature technology that is current, more realistic and similar to what the soldiers are familiar with when they play video games in their barrack rooms.

Having an open architecture would also facilitate training with other services and partners as well as the ability to upgrade as technology advances.

Industry can help with this training revolution, Gen. Gervais explained. “We are going to have bandwidth and latency challenges, and we need to make sure the communications infrastructure has cyber in it every step of the way,” she stated. “Quite frankly, the STE will have a lot of information to protect without inducing latency.”

The military will need to overcome how to store and manage data without breaking the network, as well as how to compress data and send only changes in the update. “We are working through all of these things now,” the general reported.

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