Simulation and training: Making simulation work across Defence | ADM August 2013
Simulation means different things to different people.
Simulation in Defence has always been a many-headed beast. It means different
things to different people from full motion flight simulators to decision
support with experimentation and modelling technologies, high level
single-Service/joint training and everything else in between.
According to the Defence website, the Simulation Branch is
headed by the director general simulation. On behalf of VCDF, Simulation Branch
provides enterprise level governance of the Defence Simulation Capability and
the capability for Military Experimentation.
Simulation governance is achieved through the Australian
Defence Simulation Office (ADSO), which provides advice and guidance to Defence
in the development of simulation systems, policy, standards and application.
ADSO is also responsible for coordinating engagement with Allies and Industry
on Simulation and supports simulation acquisition for Defence through an
established standing offer panel – the Defence Simulation Support Panel (DSSP)
– and the Synthetic Environment Working Group (SEWG). The single-Services and
Joint Operations Command (JOC) continue to strive for greater training outcomes
enabled by simulation.
But times are a changing. ADSO will be moving out of the
governance driven VCDF framework out to the JOC Group and a more operational
setting. DSTO Dr Mike Brennan, who was DGSIM for just over four years, has
moved into Capability Development Group and RAN Commodore Charles McHardie is
now leading the ADSO.
There is a sense in Defence that simulation across the board
needs some greater coordination across the organisation and a clearer focus on
getting operational training runs on the board for the Services and joint
environment as it were. The future centrepiece of support for ADSO functions is
the newly rescoped JP3035 where the Defence Synthetic Environment (DSE) will
act as the overall system architecture for how Defence uses simulation assets
to achieve vital training outcomes. Most programs acquire simulators as part of
their training regime for individual platforms without the concern of joint or
integrated exercises in mind.
The program has been split into two phases with the first
phase to support Navy training capabilities that need that extra helping hand
now. The later phase is still up to seven years away, according to the 2012
DCP. Given the technology refresh rate the industry experiences, there is a
sense that there will be smaller buys more often under a larger long-term plan.
ADSO was to be the guiding light for simulation policy in
Defence but the eventual question of who pays for what always seemed to stump
the process. Both the SEWG and DSSP have gone some ways to combating that but
there is still work to be done.
Plans to consolidate all single-Service and joint simulation
assets and capabilities into a single centre of excellence type arrangement, to
enable training outcomes, may even be on the cards.
Talisman Sabre and
The best known example of highly successful joint training
with combined live, synthetic, constructed and simulated elements is run out of
the JOC owned Joint Combined Training Centre (JCTC) for the Talisman Sabre
series of exercises. The latest in this series was beginning as this article
was being written.
The JCTC originates from a 2004 agreement between the
Australian Minister for Defence and US Secretary for Defense to significantly
enhance the quality of our bilateral training program and ADF capabilities. The
general concept of the JCTC was to upgrade Australian Defence training areas in
both Queensland and the Northern Territory through the networking of
state-of-the-art facilities, including the use of instrumentation and
simulation. The objective of the JCTC is to deliver enhanced high-end,
bilateral training in order to increase and measure operational capability and
preparedness, improve interoperability, and facilitate capability development.
Industry people, currently led by a handful of uniformed
Defence personnel, run the centre. ADM understands that the contract for JCTC
is currently being renewed with an expanded number of contractors required to
grow the capability even further.
One of the companies supporting the JCTC, Calytrix
Technologies, has been involved in the centre since the beginning.
“The corner stone of the JCTC is the delivery of Live,
Virtual and Constructive (LVC) integration,” Calytrix Technologies managing
director Shawn Parr told ADM as far back as 2010. “That is the integration of
different types of simulation systems to create a fully synthetic environment.
The JCTC has done some great things.
“The JCTC has achieved some world leading major technical
milestones that perhaps people aren’t fully aware of. For example, the JCTC
were the first group who were able to put computer-generated (constructive)
forces into a live FA-18 cockpit allowing the pilot to fully interact in an LVC
exercise. In this example the pilot receives a normal radar signal indicating
the location of another aircraft and is able to interact with them as if it was
a real (live) aircraft.
“Similarly, the JCTC has integrated Australian soldiers so
that they can interact with, and call for fire support from, a virtual AC130
simulator being flown in the US. The provision of constructive UAV support into
Mission Rehearsal Exercises is now common place. From that perspective, the
JCTC really is leading the way.”
And what the centre can offer now has gone beyond that,
evolving from these tactical level events to true Joint Task Force/operational
level complex exercises. As one senior defence official put it, seeing 15,000
soldiers running around Shoalwater Bay for Talisman Sabre is the easy part of
the exercise. The opportunities offered with the LHDs will be an integral part
of the ADF capability and the JCTC is already gearing up for their part in the
game. Parts of the LHD introduction into service will include testing done in
future Talisman Sabre exercises.
As technology evolves, offering new ways to train and
exercise, Defence is coming at the issue two fronts: what is the outcome and
how much does it cost? Is simulation the best way to train for the desired
outcome? Is there a business case for modelling something or will a whiteboard
and a few markers do the same job? Defence wants to be a smarter customer in
Defence is hoping that the DSE under JP3035 will provide an
architecture and standards framework that can be applied organisation wide to
make the best of what they have now alongside future technologies. There is
still a long way to go but there is a sense now that Defence is headed in the