Disjointed Defense Simulation Programs Prompt Reorganization

Article excerpt

The increasing demand for virtual training and war gaming has prompted the Defense Department to reorganize how it manages modeling and simulation.

Ongoing efforts to integrate disparate modeling and simulation work reflect growing pressures on the armed services to collaborate more closely in weapon systems procurement, research and development, officials said.

"We need to do things better and we need to make a collaborative effort across the community," said Fred Hartman, deputy director of readiness and training policy and programs in the office of the deputy under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

Speaking at the Defense Department's inaugural modeling and simulation conference, that was supported by the National Training and Simulation Association, Hartman added, "We need to dedicate our energy and our dollars to create those infrastructures ... those kinds of things that are absolutely necessary, to enable the live, virtual, constructive environment, to serve not only training, but to serve testing and experimentation and perhaps even adaptive planning."

The Pentagon's modeling and simulation office was directed seven years ago to show the benefits of "cross-service and cross-community" cooperation, said Hartman.

To attain "common and cross-cutting" tools, data and services, the office is transitioning to a modeling and simulation coordination office that will support six communities: training, analysis, acquisitions, testing, planning and experimentation.

By establishing those communities as the driving force, the entire defense modeling and simulation community will save money, promote interoperability and create efficiencies, said Hartman.

"The bottom line in all that is we're looking at ways to share resources and a collective pot of money," he said. "We'll do more than either one of us could've done alone."

But at the service level, the joint picture appears cloudy.

Representatives from each of the services shared their visions of the future in subsequent presentations. Though they each drew similar conclusions--of attaining more interoperability, jointness and net-centricity in modeling and simulation--they revealed myriad challenges impeding progress toward those goals.

Some services are dealing with cultural barriers, while others are involved with funding or downsizing issues. But the underlying challenge appears to be surmounting the disparity in current modeling and simulation capabilities, which span a wide gap.

At one end of the spectrum is the Marine Corps' modeling and simulation office, which, as one speaker told the conference, consists of one half-time person.

"We have a part-time major, who has the majority of responsibilities elsewhere, but he helps us organize Marine Corps modeling and simulation," said George Akst, senior analyst for the Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

The Corps is more decentralized in its approach to modeling and simulation than some of the other services, he acknowledged, but it probably will start building up to a much larger organization to be on par with the others, he said.

The Corps is using modeling and simulation at the analytical level for irregular warfare assessments and planning and at the tactical level to help in the battle against roadside bombs, said Maj. James McDonough, modeling and simulation analyst for the Training and Education Command. …