The Army’s training command is seeking readily available commercial open architecture capabilities needed to more rapidly pursue data-centric, virtual reality-driven simulators for future training efforts.

Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) officials are moving forward with simulation initiatives to speed up Army training objectives while creating more comprehensive virtualized environments, according to the command’s lead for data science models.

TRADOC's Tony Cerri and Booz Allen Hamilton's Young Bang during a panel on virtual reality training simulation. Photo: Matthew Beinart.
TRADOC’s Tony Cerri and Booz Allen Hamilton’s Young Bang during a panel on virtual reality training simulation. Photo: Matthew Beinart.

“We are intending to field an architecture that will be both virtual and constructive. If you want to go out and practice squad tactics you can do it virtually,” Tony Cerri, TRADOC director for data science, said at a FedScoop event Wednesday.

Cerri emphasized to the industry attendees at the event that TRADOC’s simulation goals will require new partners developing new virtual reality capabilities in the private sector.

“We need people that aren’t traditionalists. As a matter of fact, we actually have that written into the policy note, ‘no traditional companies without non-traditional capabilities,’” Cerri said.

Young Bang, a senior vice president with Booz Allen Hamilton [BAH] focusing on data science projects, joined Cerri on his panel and described open architecture capabilities as key for reaching improved VR-based simulators.

Open source tools can help accelerate TRADOC’s pace of adoption, according to Bang.

“We really have to think about how to make things a little bit more open. I know that in this D.C. area there’s a lot of contractors OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturer) that make their business out of being proprietary, but really we have to push that and change that mindset,” Bang said.

Industry input is required to meet TRADOC’s push to move away from spending large amounts of time compiling data needed to map and create simulations, a process that can take up to a year, according to Cerri.

“That’s dumb. We need to stop that. We need to start building simulations that are data-ready. “If anybody’s got an idea on how to do that, come see me.”

VR-based capabilities will not only improve TRADOC’s ability in creating more complex training environments in a shorter amount of time but will also improve the efficiency of training soldier components, according to Cerri.

“It’s exciting to see the kind of things that we can do in a couple days that would take a constructive simulation months or half a year,” Cerri said. “The focus needs to be on equipping the soldier to train himself, rather than the soldier always having to go someplace to get trained.”

TRADOC has two current initiatives to reach this goal, the Synthetic Training Environment (STE) and the Squad/Soldier Virtual Trainer programs.

STE focuses on creating multi-echleon training simulators with combined virtual and constructive environments in augmented reality (AR). The program has seen promise in potentially reducing the time and overhead costs needed to train reserve components (Defense Daily, January 24).

SSVT aims to build squad-based readiness training capabilities to provide simulations in VR and AR environments.

Both programs are being worked out of the Combined Arms Center in Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and have an ‘aggressive timeline,’ according to Cerri.

“What if we had to deploy agents or soldiers to a scenario or a town or a city or a country that you’ve never been? We can stream that data live, real-time. They can train for it before they get there,” Bang said. “Think of the possibilities in AR and VR now and the impact on training. The world is our oyster.”