NATO Nations Strive to Standardize Training Systems.

Author:Magnuson, Stew

STOCKHOLM, Sweden--Technology in the training and simulation field is advancing so rapidly that some militaries in the NATO alliance are having a hard time grasping how to best use it, experts recently said.

Militaries, for example, are caught up in the virtual reality craze and buying goggles without much thought into how they will use them, said Germany's Lt. Col. Wolfhard Schmidt, branch head of training development at NATO's joint forces training center.

"I think the most important point is that we are not afraid of the new technology and I think nobody is, but we have to make it clear how we to want to use it and where are the limits," he said during a panel discussion at the ITEC 2019 conference in Stockholm, Sweden, co-sponsored by the National Training and Simulation Association.

Running out to buy the latest gadgets also creates stovepiped systems when NATO nations come together to train, he said.

As is the case with all military equipment, individual NATO nations make their own decisions on what equipment to buy, and training and simulation systems are no exception, he said. NATO plays the role of a moderator, but can't force its member militaries to adhere to standards.

However, they can only bring plug-and-play systems when taking part in joint exercises, said Adrian Voiculet, technical officer in the NATO Science and Technology Organization's modeling and simulation coordination office.

"We are trying to avoid the stovepiped environment by promoting open standards," he said in an interview.

Schmidt added: "It's not a computer game. It is training and that means the training needs standards."

German Navy Cmdr. Jorg Feldhusen, staff officer of education and training at the center of excellence for operations in confined and shallow waters, said, "We also need to develop a vision of where we do we want to go in the future. What are our real training needs? And then look at the opportunities that new technology can offer us."

NATO nations see the benefit of synthetic training--mixing live training with simulations in order to gain efficiencies and lower costs, noted Feldhusen. This kind of training is possible in the German navy now, he added. It "will provide us a low cost, scalable, challenging training in a controllable environment. And that's very good," he said.

But synthetic training will never replace live training, Feldhusen said. "We will need that live training, especially when it comes to ship movements and everything,"...

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