Magazine article National Defense

New Instrumentation System Offers Boon to Army Training

Magazine article National Defense

New Instrumentation System Offers Boon to Army Training

Article excerpt

Digital system provides extensive and detailed information for brigade-size exercise review

The Army earlier this year officially accepted the joint readiness training center-instrumentation system (JRTC-IS). This state-ofthe-art, digital system, that was installed at Fort Polk, Louisiana, has given analysts the ability to automate the tracking and gathering of data in forces training for the first time.

Light, brigade-size formations are now considered the units of choice for future conflicts, which will likely be more regional in scope. The data that will be gathered in the training of these groups by the JRTC-IS will be packaged and made available for after-action reviews, thus, providing an objective base of information for use by the observer/controllers who have monitored the exercises in the field.

The instrumentation system became fully operational in August, 1997. Since that timethrough the end of April, 1998-nine training rotations have gone through the JRTC-IS.

Those exercises have catered to Army infantry brigade groups and special operations units, composed of between 5,000 to 5,500 participants a rotation. The exercises have also included Air Force units supplying airlift, and Marine Corps fire control teams in air, naval, and gun liaison companies.

According to Dave Hill, chief of training analysis, computer support and simulation with the JRTC operations group at Ft. Polk, the instrumentation system has made a significant difference with respect to the quality of data provided to the observer/controllers, whom he pointed out, will continue to play an integral role in light forces training exercises for the foreseeable future.

"The instrumentation was not installed to replace the observer/controllers, but instead it was included to enhance their capabilities by providing them with a wealth of detailed background data that was not previously available," said Hill.

For example, he noted, the observer/controllers can now call upon an objective set of data to back up the observations they have made in the field, and present during an after action review. "he value of the review will be further enhanced because the instrumentation can generate maps with prerecorded real-time data that shows the movement of troops and vehicles over the training range. All of that information can be displayed during the review."

Hill added that computer generated slides, situational displays, and video are also available to further enhance the review. "Because the instrumentation has given the observer/controller more tools to work with than just his own observations, he can now say, `Here is what I have observed, and here is the data to back me up,"' he remarked

Based on the experience of JRTC-IS to date, Hill said, the fidelity of the data generated by the instrumentation system has enabled the observer/controllers to discuss their observations in a more clearly defined manner than they could in the past. One example of this involves training exercise synchronization.

"The observer/controller can use the data to evaluate the unit coordination through a better understanding of the unit's moves around the training range, and weapons firing events. He can see how the opposing forces reacted to each other's maneuvers, and how this affected the outcome of the training exercise. The instrumentation can give the analysts a detailed picture of what happened, and when it happened," said Hill.

But, along with providing a better, more objective after-action review package, the data generated by the JRTC-IS also has potential use in training doctrine validation, as Hill explained.

"Writers of training doctrine can use the accumulated data to get a more objective picture of how their system could be implemented in the field, because they can now look at specific events, and how those events worked to influence the results of the training exercise. …

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