The challenge is that we, in the simulation innovation side of industry, must prove that simulation can replicate the necessary tasks and cognitive stressors needed for effective training. That is, true cognitive stimulation through quality simulation, the kind where the student is physically and mentally immersed in the scenario, is the new baseline to meet if we are to get this right for the Warfighters and convince them to go to the schoolhouse instead of the runway for the majority of their training. Some companies are already doing this; my employer, Aero Simulation, Inc (ASI) in Tampa, FL has been making flight simulators for over 33 years; the HC-144 sim they made (with the world's largest full motion field of view) for the USCG is so real that one senior Coast Guard Search and Rescue pilot remarked that he forgets he’s not really flying after only a couple minutes in the cockpit.
Getting their heads straight
In a July 7th, 2015 Memorandum from the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) to his senior staff: The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO); the Commandant of the Marine Corps; the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower/Reserves Forces; and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition, the Honorable Ray Mabus directed:
Virtual and simulated environments offer an unprecedented opportunity for the Department of the Navy [DoN] to transform how it connects people, ideas, and information. They also provide a risk-friendly environment to experiment with innovative ideas and have the potential to reduce cost. The appropriate Navy and Marine Corps activities shall fully support this effort and pertinent findings from the Marine Corps' Simulation Assessment Working Groups will inform this initiative.
He gave the four men just 60 days to respond with their plans, actions, and milestones outlining their mandatory compliance - closing with “implementation will begin immediately upon approval.” That’s serious deadline making in a military machine where implementation of anything 'needed immediately' can still take decades.
The government’s shift from a near-sacred focus on leading research, development, and fielding technology into an attentive increase in simulation for aircrew training was not an overnight event spawned by a simple Memorandum from SECNAV though. Stretching back over 15 years, military leadership has been slowly turning on more lights in training classrooms than in developmental laboratories. For reasons hidden within personal motives, political impetus, and the heavy sequestration damage wrought by a no-military-experience, civilian-dominated, Congress and White House, U.S. military leaders from all branches have by and large chosen to leave R&D efforts to us in private industry and use what little resources they are getting from Congress to sustain and train what little they have left in place. This makes sense, and the value of training is not news to either the government or industry. We all know that the Defense Acquisition University makes students learn that 80% of acquisition cost for an aircraft program is dedicated to its sustainment. What may be of use to you is reading that the government focus since 2000 has been moving from buying newer-bigger-bettersystems toward investing in efforts to sustain and train people to be newer-bigger-better; this benefits all parties.
The shift from hardware to humans.
Nearly all of the 200+ speeches I reviewed, from CNO Clark to present, begin the same way. They open with the everyone is good-looking, strong, and above averagesermonizing in what J. Overton[i] calls the “Lake Wobegon” message to grasp the audience's’ attention. That is, they all start basically the same, but the ends vary dramatically. In short, ADM Clark (2000-2005) started with the premise that the success of the Navy is all about ships and equipment[ii]; ADM Mullen edged toward a human-focused Navy supporting that equipment[iii]; ADM Roughead openly appreciated youth, the global power of social media, and innovative (vs. expensive) technology for global success[iv]; ADM Greenert refined media and networked technology in a broad training environment[v]; and the most recent CNO, ADM Richardson, supports “high velocity learning” and “accelerated training technology.”[vi]Richardson picked up where the Greenert’s expert vision left off. From this pairing we all witnessed the cognitive density of LVC-based training and simulation possible when industry leaders supported the first LVC exercise at I/ITSEC 2015[vii] led by Dr. Angus McLean from Rockwell Collins. A select team of LVC leaders from industry (myself included) has been coordinating this year to rejoin the military and Dr. McLean to do it again at I/ITSEC 2016 during the first week of December in Orlando, FL.
Taken as a metanarrative exposing the shift from battle hardware procurement to buying advanced simulation and training, these speeches are not singular speeches to specific audiences; they are a 15-year conversation about getting better, faster, safer, more efficient, and even more operationally effective. The policies and speeches from the five CNOs between 2000 and 2016 can teach us how to better serve our country and industry. Military leaders of the past decade have suffered through a near-endless war waged in constant conflict within the DoD and Congressional Budget Office complicated by irksome issues with public perspective.
Admiral Vern Clark was CNO on September 11th, 2001. He was at the helm (2000-2005) of the world’s largest Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard at a pivotal time for the interplay between government and industry.
Clark outlined his vision in the Navy publication Proceedings published Oct 2002[viii]. Sea Power 21, he wrote, “will provide our nation with widely dispersed combat power from platforms possessing unprecedented warfighting capabilities.” Initially for the Navy and CNO Clark, Sailors existed to man ships and equipment. Sea Power 21’s nativity was gathered around the stalwart military concepts of equipment, systems, and future capabilities. Two years later at the Navy War College, Clark remarked that the Navy’s largest advantage was to field incredible technology and that he would be unable to this without “human beings” who would be willing and on hand to do so[ix].
By the end of his tenure as CNO, the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars had persisted longer than expected and the Navy and Marine Corps roles had necessarily shifted to answer the bell. In many of Clark’s final speeches as CNO, he scarcely mentioned ships at all, but rather focused his praise on the men and women in combat from across the Navy’s disciplines and in direct support of the U.S. Army.
The next CNO, Admiral Mike Mullen, changed the face of the Navy’s demand-signal overnight (in Navy terms). He insisted that the Navy’s strength was in her people. A dramatic shift given the politics of taking a new office and respecting the work his predecessor had put into “Sea Power 21.” Mullen changed its focus in toto and released a new “Cooperative Strategy for 21st Sea Power” two years later, moving attention toward fielding talented people rather than fielding technology.
He told an audience at a War College change of command that the Navy’s strength must be based on people’s abilities rather than their equipment. Mullen lauded the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard for their multi-mission capabilities, operational and structural agility, overall efficiency, and for not being as dependent as the Navy was on their equipment[x]. This was a warning shot to Navy-specific leadership to shift rudder or be overtaken by those who would.
During his CNO tour (2005-2007), Mullen continued the slow march toward increasing training money for his people. From his records and transcripts, one can see he persevered under great pressure from peers and politicians who had a stake in building bigger ships and guns instead of the less glamorous (and less profitable) effort of increasing training and simulation dollars. See again: the war machine wanting to buy a $1B aircraft to fly 100 training hours a year at $130,000/hr or a (safer) $20M simulator to ‘fly’ training 24/7 at $300/hr. In 2006, Mullen addressed the Navy’s Birthday Ball by talking about his people (not his Fleet) and remarking on “Stethoscope Diplomacy” through Sailors and Marines as what would win wars and brought up the Navy’s role in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Indonesian Tsunami, and other global efforts[xi]. It was under Mullen that the new face of the Navy from a warfighting cadre to a humanitarian arm of diplomacy took shape. The “A Global Force for Good” campaign was structured under his leadership.
Admiral Roughead (CNO 2007-2011) brought the office to new heights in appreciation of the youth of DoN manpower, commercial industry partnership, the inclusion - rather than a specific exclusion - of social media as a strategy, learning technologies, and leveraging them all to accomplish the mission during his period of rough budget austerity. At a keynote address in 2008 at the Surface Navy Association Symposium[xii], Roughead said “[S]ailors are the ones who realize our traditional and expanded capabilities; Sailors are[,] at the end of the day, the ones who forge relationships and partnerships. Sailors will make the Strategy a reality.” This is a rather blunt indifference to Admiral Clark who, just four years prior, told the Navy its core strength was equipment. In 2011, on technology, learning, and social media, Roughead explained that Leadership no longer needed to illusion itself to maintain total control of everything, instead to let industry (next to them) and the Navy Sailors (under them) contribute to the practice of problem solving and innovation. Roughead said “the illusion of control is over,” and that the Navy must understand her people, their strengths, and train them as best it could to maximize what they brought to the Navy with them[xiii]. For this, I credit ADM Roughead with breaking the stranglehold that the old-fashioned top-down leadership had on innovation; he pulled back the royal curtain of process control allowing everyone to participate in everyone else’s success through better training.
By the time Admiral Greenert took the desk (2011-2015), the cumbersome reality of Sequestration had solidified the wisdom in shifting focus from new procurement to training and simulation that Mullen espoused, and that Roughead began to put into service while tutoring Greenert to implement. Greenert lead the Navy into the cutting-edge field of Electronic Warfare and generally pushed back against the Congressional-based special interests insisting on procurement. Greenert’s DoN favored training its people to become the masters of what they had in front of them for the missions ahead of them[xiv].
Admiral Richardson, (CNO 2015-present) took the oath of office and rapidly moved forward with the Roughead/Greenert vision of a leaner, smarter force. He knows that industry will bring the most it benefit to the Warfighter through our mutual insistence on LVC training environments, LVC-based exercises, an increase in command and control training, and encouraging the Nation’s men and women to better communicate with industry and push the boundaries of what is known and unknown about synthetic training.
Paying for it
In a potentially jarring morality argument, a weapon and user combination that can kill the enemy more perfectly is far more humane that a pairing that takes a less burdened approach to target acquisition[xv]. Not that an Army-like “pull the trigger until the noise stops” Rules of Engagement is not essentially as effective in the immediate goal on station under fire, but a true professional Soldier or Sailor, trained on, and using more accurate equipment, will waste less brass (logistics and money), cause less collateral damage (a huge humanitarian and political win), and affect less risk of loss to self and his or her team. Properly designed, delivered, and employed LVC training and simulation is the key to these benefits. Yet with shrinking budgets, the first funding request often denied is for the less-than-sexy military effort of training and simulation sustainment[xvi], and most certainly any level of expansion with what already exists. This is not an illumination to a new problem. The Post-Vietnam Army Chief of Staff, General Creighton Abrams famously remarked:
In time of shrinking budgets, the temptation will always exist to reduce training expenditures because the tangible value of training dollars is difficult to measure - difficult, that is, until a force inadequately prepared for the realities of combat is again sent into harm`s way. The price paid for unpreparedness will not be in dollars, but in blood and sacrifice [xvii] .
Although General Abrams said that decades ago, it would be just as correct if said today. The issue of shrinking budgets and increased operational demand is not new, but the effect of robbing Peter to pay Paul at the Congressional level has leaked into the halls of the military with a gusto not previously considered. For 49 of the past 63 years the DoD budget has stayed the same[xviii]. As of late, that budget has been shrinking at an alarming pace; and Sequestration has changed everything. It did not start the fire, as Billy Joel would say, yet the Budgetary Control Act of 2011[xix] is generally held culpable for most of the current woes. Before this The Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985[xx] was at fault; the “PAYGO” era from 1990 to 2002 (and reinstated in 2007[xxi]), where the government could only use what it could convince the public it could afford, was charged as guilty during its time. A series of Acts in the early 2000’s let Congress off the hook for having a budget, and precipitated gluttonous acquisition efforts for systems over training ($1B bird not $20M sims). The action peaked in 2011 with Pub.L.112-25[xxii], and another in 2012; this is what we all call Sequestration. There have been add-ons and subtractions to this ever since, but as far as the military is concerned, the mission keeps getting bigger and the budget keeps getting smaller.
A simple Boolean News-only Search online for Armed Conflicts “January 2016” will yield 1,360,000 results. A search for Armed Conflicts “January 1960” will yield just 33 news stories. This is not scientific; even adjusting for social media and the indolent process of news reporting today verses 50 years ago, a 1.3M in 2016 versus 33 in 1960 number remains striking. In 1960, the percentage of GDP spent on the U.S. Military was 52%, with entitlements getting 21%; in 2015 it was 18% for the military and 60% for entitlements[xxiii]. Addressing catastrophic trends in spending cuts, Michael Meese wrote for the Strategic Forum at the National Defense University:
…with a decreasing budget, a reduction that is taken in one year may not insulate a particular Service or program from continued or increased reductions in the future. Quite the contrary, if a program survived with a 10 percent cut last year, the reduced level is the new starting point for next year’s budget negotiation. This places a premium on defense leaders understanding the long-term budgetary conditions as defining a reality in which, they hope, strategy can be made realistic [xxiv] .
Add to this challenge that not even the inter-agency offices controlling the budgets are altogether clear on who gets what money and to what end. Take for example the funding for training an effective Active Reserve (AR) Force in support of the Active Duty (AD) Army’s mission. Surveying five different offices of budget and finance makes this sadly clear: Major General Punero (USA, ret.) points out that the Congressional Budget Office thinks AR costs 30% of what AD costs; RAND says 23-25%; the DoD’s own Total Force Policy Report to Congress reports 25-26%; the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves claims 23%; and the Reserve Forces Policy Board said that AR costs just 22-32% of what an AD Soldier requires in funding[xxv].
In reality, whatever figure is in use by whoever is reporting it, the bottom line is that everyone agrees that keeping our military highly trained in times of peace and war are worthwhile endeavors. To realize the true benefit of effective and efficient simulation in the current austere environment is the common goal for everyone involved; it is in fact mandated by the previous SECNAV and fully supported by the current SECDEF[xxvi].
With the history of understanding what the Warfighters’ current needs have become, and our mutual agreement that U.S. Military budgets are not what they used to be and will likely not return to Pre-Vietnam era spending, we must also agree that getting training and simulation right in the next phase is critical.
Innovate or close
Dwindling military budgets across the board do not mean training and simulation are less important to operational readiness, quite the contrary. A Fleet of aircraft that are stretched beyond their lifetime and augmented with technology to keep them relevant are the exact reason why training and simulation are moving to the forefront of military planning and readiness. Capt David “Swoop” Welsh flies B-52s for the USAF; so did his father Lt Col Don Welsh; so did Swoop’s Grandfather, Col Don Sprague.
No doubt training and simulation capabilities have changed for B-52 pilots since Capt Welsh's Grandfather's and Father's days. Certainly since the B-52's first flights in 1952. A study by Dr. Wenglinsky for the National Assessment of Educational Progress Fund[xxvii] found that simulation use amplifies pilot competence in and out of the live environment. Quality training and simulation reduces human error[xxviii], and providentially changes the learning environment into one where mistakes can be forgiven and debriefed at an immediacy and potency literally impossible outside of the synthetic involvement[xxix]. You cannot create a live hurricane to fly around. You cannot safely (or legally) live-train for bird strikes, wire strikes, enemy fire, heavy flak, 100% engine power and electrical/hydraulic loss, hydraulic hard-overs, or a million other variations pilots are, literally, forbidden from flying into. Without simulation, the first time crews see it may be the last time they see anything. Simulation fixes that.
The military has (perhaps begrudgingly) accepted the reality that simulation technology is not what it was when they (the brass) were young pilots sans such advantages. The fact is that the kids coming into flight school are more tech savvy than ever before in history. They are not only ready for LVC training environments, they demand it. But the budgetary office is, frankly, going nowhere. There is no rich uncle, there is no pot of money awaiting discovery; we have what we have. Flight simulation has exponential advantages in flexibility, safety, and budget over live flying so must be done.
What will industry do to meet the challenges known and unknown in flight simulation? How will reasonable margins be met when demands are so high and budgets are so low? Innovation of course. It is what we always do. It is what we are good at. Innovation terrifies some and excites others. But Innovation is not an option, it’s an order. Innovate or close your doors.
...That's the history of it, my next post will be the how to get there ...
notes (or write me):
[i] Overton, J. (Feb 3, 2014). Speaking on the long war. Small Wars Journal.Accessed January 25, 2016. http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/speaking-of-the-long-war
[ii] ADM Clark speaking to NJROTC George H.W. High School, Houston, TX., Oct 19, 2001. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/speeches/clark011019.txt
[iii] ADM Mullen speaking to National Defense University, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C, Aug 16, 2005. Accessed January 25, 2016. http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/mullen/speeches/mullen050816.txt
[iv] ADM Roughead speaking to the Institute for Public Relations Strategic Communications Summit, Washington, D.C., June 6, 2011. Accessed on April 14, 2014. http://www.briansolis.com/2011/09/time-tide-and-the-net-wait-for-no-one-by-chief-of-naval-operations-adm-gary-roughead/
[v] Roulo, C. (Feb 4, 2015). Greenert: Science, technology put Navy on bow wave of innovation. DoD News, Defense Media Activity. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://www.defense.gov/News-Article-View/Article/604050
[vi] Excerpts from the Change of Command from Greenert to Richardson, given and published Sept 18, 2015 accessed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBK2QNkenuQ
[x] ADM Mullen speaking to National Defense University, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C, Aug 16, 2005. Accessed January 25, 2016. http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/mullen/speeches/mullen050816.txt
[xi] ADM Mullen speaking to Oklahoma City Area Navy Birthday Ball, Oct 28, 2006. Accessed January 24, 2016. http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/mullen/speeches/CNO%20TinkerBirthdayBall%20remarks%20as%20delivered%20(2).pdf
[xii] ADM Roughead speaking to Surface Navy Association Symposium (keynote address), Jan 15, 2008. Accessed April 14, 2014. http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/SNA_speech.pdf
[xiii] ADM Roughead speaking to the Institute for Public Relations Strategic Communications Summit, Washington, D.C., June 6, 2011. Accessed on April 14, 2014. http://www.briansolis.com/2011/09/time-tide-and-the-net-wait-for-no-one-by-chief-of-naval-operations-adm-gary-roughead/
[xiv] The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Foreign Policy in the New Millennium: Results of the 2012 Chicago Council Survey of American Public Opinion and U.S. Foreign Policy, 17.
[xv] Pryer, Douglas A. (LTCOL, USA) (May-April 2013). The rise of the machines: Why increasingly “Perfect” weapons help perpetuate our wars and endanger our nation.Military Review (14-24).
[xvi] Major General Arnold Punaro (USMCR Ret.). Written Testimony to the National Commission on the Future of the Army, given to Congress on July 16, 2015. Accessed on January 20, 2015. http://www.ncfa.ncr.gov/sites/default/files/MajGen%20Punero%20Written%20Testimony%20to%20NCFA.pdf
-Meese, Michael, J. (May, 2014). Strategy and force planning in a time of austerity.Strategic Forum: National Defense University, 287(1-8).
-Fiekert, Andrew (Feb 2014). Army drawdown and restructuring: Background and issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service, 7-5700, R42493, (15-19).
[xvii] Carafano, James J. (Feb, 2005). Total Force Policy and the Abrams Doctrine: Unfulfilled Promise, Uncertain Future. Foreign Policy Research Institute. Accessed on January 30, 2016. http://www.fpri.org/articles/2005/02/total-force-policy-and-abrams-doctrine-unfulfilled-promise-uncertain-future
[xviii] Meese, Michael, J. (May, 2014). Strategy and force planning in a time of austerity. Strategic Forum: National Defense University, 287(1-8).
[xxiii] Meese, Michael, J. (May, 2014). Strategy and force planning in a time of austerity. Strategic Forum: National Defense University, 287(1-8).
[xxvi] SECDEF Ash Carter speaking on Strategic and Operational Innovation at a Time of Transition and Turbulence to the Reagan National Defense Forum on Nov 7, 2015. Accessed on January 23, 2016. http://www.defense.gov/News/Speeches/Speech-View/Article/628146/remarks-on-strategic-and-operational-innovation-at-a-time-of-transition-and-tur
[xxvii] Wenglinsky, H. (1999). Does it compute: The relationship between education technology and student achievement in mathematics. Princeton, New Jersey: Educational Testing Service
[xxviii] Major General Arnold Punaro (USMCR Ret.). Written Testimony to theNational Commission on the Future of the Army, given to Congress on July 16, 2015. Accessed on January 20, 2015.
[xxix] Kincaid, J.P. & Westerland, K.K. (2009). Simulation in education and training.Proceedings of the 2009 Winter Simulation Conference: Institute for Simulation and Training, University of Central Florida: 273-280.
 President Bush signed the Homeland Security Act on November 25th, 2002. Among other things, this re-organized the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to fall under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in peacetime and the DoD (and therefore the DoN) during times of War. Admiral Clark’s initial force structure therefore included the USCG who moved to DHS in Nov 2002, and then moved again under Clark with the Declaration (H.J. Res. 114) of War in Iraq (OIF) on March 3rd, 2003. OIF ended officially by decree on December 15, 2011 and the USCG went back to DHS.