Simulation Provides Big Payoff for Military and Vast Array of Commercial Customers

Article excerpt

Tally Ho! Two bogies, left 10 o'clock, slightly high." "Roger, tally. I've got them both in sight nose on. I'll take the one on the left. You've got the one on the right."

"Roger, they're at two miles now. Migs! Migs! Migs!"

"Ok. Fox One! Missile away!"

"Good kill! Good kill!"

"The other guy's buggin' out. Let's get out of here. I'm low fuel state."

These are the words one might hear being exchanged between fighter pilots honing their air combat skills during a typical live training sortie, today.

Or this high intensity dialogue now could be heard during an engagement between two interactive simulators located at the same base. Tomorrow, however, as we sit on the threshold of deployment of new simulator technology, these words could be those of aircrews located thousands of miles apart at different bases and perhaps even located in different countries.

Distributed Mission Training (DMT), a program initiated by the Air Force, was conceived to do precisely that. With realization of full DMT capability, which includes nodes of simulators at bases around the globe, the Air Force will have the ability to train large numbers of aircrews in campaign level scenarios or, if it so chooses, to train at the local level only. Wide area networks will be required, of course, but technology is ready to deliver.

DMT is part of the answer to an earlier challenge put forward by former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Ronald Fogelman to revolutionize training. The Air Force is on the leading edge in harnessing technology to fulfill a unique and difficult challenge. Other training domains seek to also use technological developments to answer their training needs, and these domains are not all related to the military case. Solutions that address military requirements might also be applicable to the needs of the private sector.

The private sector faces enormous training challenges in this environment of a growing population in an increasingly complex society with an educational system that, according to some reports, is not measuring up to what the nation needs in the future.

Linked to the educational system of this country are the methods we employ to train our workers, and, like education, training today could stand revitalization. An important question to address then is how do we train America's work force for the 21 st century. Part of the answer can be ascertained by reviewing some of the significant efforts already ongoing in selected private sector training domains.

Take breakfast cereal, for example. A leading manufacturer recently addressed one of its unique training challenges. Plant operators were being trained the traditional way through weeks of classroom sessions followed by long periods of on the job training before being certified to run one of the company's production facilities. Yet, with all this training background mishaps during production runs continued to occur especially when switching from the manufacture of one brand to another. …