Academic journal article Military Review

Training Imperatives for Reserve Forces

Academic journal article Military Review

Training Imperatives for Reserve Forces

Article excerpt

THE US ARMY RESERVE Component (RC) is in danger of losing its ability to support wartime and peacetime contingencies effectively. This is an ominous turn, for the RC provides over 70 percent of the US Army's combat support and combat service support. As training dollars shrink and frequent deployments deplete readiness stocks, how will the Army maintain the combat skills of its RC soldiers and units? By using computer-supported simulation exercises, the RC can train effectively and efficiently, but only by adhering to certain basic principles. This article describes computer simulation training and examines several imperatives for enhanced unit training.

An Army not at war is training for war, and any training short of combat is simulation.1 Simulation technology has improved dramatically in the past two decades. Before 1980, training exercises used battle-board maps spread across a floor and dice to adjudicate combat action. With computer-supported simulations, the speed and random selection of combat results increased, but the realism of the simulated battlefield still depended on the skill of the observer-controller (O/C) who ran the exercise.

By the late 1980s, the development of realistic, fast-paced, interactive, graphically supported simulations such as Brigade/Battalion Battle Simulation (BBS) and Corps Battle Simulation (CBS) escalated the pace and realism of exercises. These simulations replicated the stress of the modern battlefield tactical operations center (TOC). Just when it seemed that simulation gaming had reached its pinnacle, software and hardware developers combined to promise a synthetic theater of war in which troops in the field (live), soldiers in combat simulators (virtual) and staffs in TOCs (constructive) are linked to enhance an exercise's span and realism. Although predicting the next advance in simulation technology is impossible, planners can assume that given current and future resource constraints, computersupported simulation training will remain critical for reserve forces and may become the primary vehicle for training RC staffs.

RC units train with limited resources. They generally have only 39 days of formal training each year in which to achieve the Active Component (AC) standard of readiness. Training areas are also scarce, often hours away from a unit's home station. Consequently, a computer-supported simulation exercise, transmitted to an RC unit's home station during a weekend drill, becomes the preferred method of unit staff training. Through remote simulation exercises the AC has access to RC training events, and conversely, RC units can train in AC exercises to improve the relevance of RC training. Remote computer-supported simulation exercises are the affordable method of training the RC.2

Computer-Supported Simulation Exercises

A typical computer-supported battle staff simulation exercise involves a brigade-level headquarters and three to five battalion-level subordinate units, each in a field TOC. Computer work-stations are shipped to the battalions' home stations and manned by representatives of their companies. These company role players set up a mini-TOC at each workstation and work off posted maps and the workstation monitors' graphic display to carry out battalion orders and fight the battle. The workstation role players transmit battlefield information produced by simulation-fed workstation printers to the battalion staff using organic unit communications. The battalion feeds information to the brigade staff TOC, forcing brigade and battalion staffs to react as the simulated battle unfolds. The simulation is not a battle driver; it is a staff driver that uses the unit's order to produce random but realistic results, which in turn cause a staff to react. Staff tasks form the training objectives, with unit battle tasks used as a scenario to bind the staff actions together. A simulation exercise is less about winning or losing than about training. …

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