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Air Force takes part in joint training transformation

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (July 01, 2005) -- Linking aircraft simulators with live forces and simulators of other services have been the Air Force’s most visible contributions to the Department of Defense's joint training transformation effort.

DOD has been working to make training for war a team effort, pushing the four services -- who often train separately in their own exercises -- to come together to share resources, training space and experience, said Dr. Paul Mayberry, deputy undersecretary of defense for readiness.

"Training transformation is really very simple," he said. "It is making sure we follow the credo of ‘training the way we intend to fight.’ And we fight as a joint team, with multinational and interagency partners."

Dr. Mayberry said the department's training transformation has manifested itself in three capabilities. First is the joint knowledge development and distribution capability. That capability focuses on getting information to people out in the field, letting them "reach back" from the field to get the information they need, and synchronizing the information contained in training among the services.

Second is the joint assessment and enabling capability where the department asks what is being done for warfighters and determines if it is enough and how to enhance future training, he said.

"The joint enabling capability is about asking what we have done for units and individuals -- and does it make a difference," Dr. Mayberry said. "It is also about asking what kind of new technologies are out there that are able to revolutionize training."

The third capability is the joint national training capability.

"That's how we really pull together service exercises and apply an appropriate level of joint context to those training events," he said.

One example of the department's effort to make training more joint-oriented is Joint Red Flag 2005 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. U.S. Joint Forces Command designated the Air Force’s Air Combat Command as the event’s lead and executive agent.

"We brought together the 12th Air Force, the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command and the 4th Infantry Division, and the exercises that they represented -- the Joint Red Flag and the Roving Sands events," Dr. Mayberry said. "We really blended them together in terms of an integrated joint event. It was the largest distributed mission operation exercise that we have ever had in a joint context."

Distributed mission operations was originally an Air Force effort to tie together its own aircraft simulators across vast geographic boundaries to allow pilots in one location to fly virtual training missions with pilots anywhere in the world. The technology allows for a kind of vast, simulated air war where pilots fly training sorties in aircraft mission training centers. The effort has been expanded to include inputs from live aircraft already in flight and aircraft simulators from other services, combined with computer-generated aircraft and threats, to create a true live-virtual-constructive training exercise.

At Joint Red Flag, the Air Force brought together about 32 different training sites and more than 18 different types of simulators at these sites, Dr. Mayberry said.

In other locations, the Air Force has found ways to bring Soldiers, who wear simulation devices on their head, into the virtual war.

"The best scenario I saw was down at Hurlburt Field, Florida, where they had a gunship (simulator) that was able to provide close-air support for troops that had ‘heads-up goggles’ at Fort Benning, Georgia, and they were flying over a scenario that was at Fort Polk, Louisiana," Dr. Mayberry said. "Pilots, flying in their mock-up, were able to see the ground and the flashings and the interactions, and the troops on the ground were able to make the calls for fire."

Blending together that kind of simulation has been the Air Force's main contribution to the Department of Defense's joint training transformation effort and is a key part of the future of joint training, Dr. Mayberry said.

"The Air Force and each of the services are going to have to blend together the live opportunities of aircraft into a seamless environment with the simulators -- the virtual force -- and really wrap around that the complexities that can be brought by constructive or computer-generated forces," Dr. Mayberry said. "This notion of a seamless live forces and virtual constructive environment, I think, is not only where the Air Force is going to have to go, but also each of the other services."