Army Accelerating Synthetic Training Environment Programs.

Author:Harper, Jon

The Army is shortening its timeline for delivering new synthetic training technology that will help warfighters prepare for battle.

The synthetic training environment, or STE, is a next-generation paradigm for enhancing readiness. The Army plans to use a combination of gaming, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality and other technologies to better enable soldiers to improve their skills, said Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, deputy commanding general of the Combined Arms Center-Training.

"Units are constrained by time, training area availability, relevant operational environment data and also resources required to make training iterative, realistic and relevant," she said during a presentation at the Association of the United States Army's annual convention in Washington, DC.

"We need to be able to provide our soldiers, leaders and units the ability to conduct hundreds of repetitions wherever they are located, so they can improve muscle memory and increase proficiency," she added.

In October of last year, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley called for a rapid expansion of the service's synthetic training capabilities.

Since then, the Army has established a new Futures Command in Austin, Texas, focused on its top six modernization priorities: long-range precision fires; next-generation combat vehicle; future vertical lift; the network; air-and-missile defense; and soldier lethality.

A STE-focused cross-functional team, led by Gervais, was established to help advance these efforts. It is most closely aligned with the soldier lethality portfolio, but is also geared toward the other modernization priorities, Gervais noted during a roundtable with reporters.

The Army increased its engagement with contractors over the past year, hosting several industry days to look at synthetic training technologies. That led to seven other transaction authority agreements which are designed to cut through red tape and speed up the acquisition of new capabilities by circumventing the Pentagon's traditional acquisition system.

The seven OTA agreements were for reconfigurable virtual trainers and a new "One World Terrain" simulation environment.

"We did that in record time so that we could get to a user assessment" with soldiers and other stakeholders in March 2018, Gervais said. "We had master gunners, we had aviators, we had technical experts, we had center of excellence [officials]--and you got instantaneous feedback."

The Army has since downselected to four vendors. Another...

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