On a mid-August afternoon in central Texas, soldiers in combat uniforms gather and prepare to engage in realistic battlefield training.
With outside temperatures approaching the 90s, one would expect the upcoming exercise, set in the middle of a flat, dusty expanse at Fort Hood, to border on sweltering heat.
Instead, this particular group of soldiers train inside the walls of the station’s Close Combat Tactical Training Center, surrounded by the constant hum of computers and a reliable stream of cool air conditioning.
The center, which facilitates cutting-edge virtual collective training for warfighters, is hosting about 150 soldiers from Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Carson, Colorado, this month as part of an operational assessment conducted by the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation command.
The purpose of the evaluation is to understand how soldiers interact with the latest software and hardware iterations of the Army Synthetic Training Environment, or STE, a capability that combines virtual, live and collectives to produce an immersive experience that is agile to location and minimizes the use of actual firepower and other typically expensive, single-use training resources.
Ongoing analysis at the event focuses on two elements of the broader STE, the Information System, abbreviated STE-IS, and the Reconfigurable Virtual Collective Trainer, or RVCT.
The STE-IS is an intelligent suite of simulation and training management software that supports intuitive access and simultaneous training across multiple sites. The STE-IS also includes One World Terrain, a 3D mapping dataset that allows training coordinators to integrate real world terrain images.
The RVCT is a highly adaptable hardware system that connects to the STE-IS to enable collective training scenarios in mixed reality. The RVCT consists of high-tech interactive equipment – including a heads-up display, high-resolution monitor and representative controllers – that allow soldiers, squads, platoons and companies to navigate exercises using real and generated movements by computer.
The family of RVCT systems powered by STE-IS is capable of replicating key aero and ground platforms; the Fort Hood event is focused on RVCT ground models that can replicate Abrams, Bradley, and Stryker combat vehicles, as well as dismounted infantry.
sergeant. Adrian Ceballos, who traveled to Colorado’s STE-IS and RVCT assessment, said he was “quite surprised and overwhelmed” by the advances in training technology.
“It’s pretty accurate, for what the details are,” he said. “I didn’t think we were that far ahead.”
Ceballos sees STE prototypes and the increased training options they provide as beneficial in assessing and improving soldier knowledge, capability, and readiness.
In addition to testing new equipment, soldiers like Ceballos provide critical feedback and data to STE development teams on the usefulness of existing software and hardware and how it could be modified to represent in-person combat with greater realism.
Soldiers participating in the evaluation readily offer ideas on how to improve current systems, such as varying the volume of sound effects and making simulated movements smoother.
SPC. Fort Bliss’ Hunter Buss noted that avatars’ on-screen movements sometimes felt “glitchy”, but that the ability to virtually see and navigate different terrain was helpful.
Early insights from the Soldier Feedback process have been shared with Army leaders, including Lt. Gen. Maria R. Gervais, Deputy Commanding General and Chief of Staff, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, during a Distinguished Visitation Day held at the Close Combat Training Center Aug. 17.
Colonel Cory Berg, soldier training project manager at the U.S. Army’s Program Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation Executive Office, or PEO STRI, explained during the program that part of the uniqueness of the STE lies in its ability to “capitalize on the equipment and capabilities available in common”. ”
Col. Nick Kioutas, Synthetic Environment Project Manager at PEO STRI, emphasized that the military “will also be able to leverage new in-game technologies” as it advances the STE with the help of partners. Of the industry.
“Agile means we are constantly pivoting to get what the soldier needs,” Kioutas said, stressing the importance of being able to adjust versatile ETS systems with agility to meet rapidly changing operational and training requirements.
“We want to continue to evolve this as we move forward,” said Col. Mike McCarthy of the STE Cross-Functional Team, an Army Futures Command modernization accelerator that helps the Army define and coordinate requirements. ST.
McCarthy highlighted how the STE’s intentional use of a modular open systems approach helped maximize the ease of use, efficiency and adaptability of the equipment being developed.
Also present at the event was Brig. General William R. Glaser, director of the cross-functional STE team, who saw clear benefits in documenting the reactions and suggestions of soldiers trying out the nascent equipment.
He explained that the cross-functional STE team provides abbreviated capability development documents and capabilities and limitations reports to the operational assessment teams to guide them while simultaneously confirming the accuracy and feasibility of the described requirements.
“It’s an ongoing effort,” Glaser said, adding that the collaborative assessment provides an invaluable opportunity for Army modernization and training stakeholders to “check our math and make sure that we are going in the right direction”.