by Michael Puttré and Brendan P. Rivers
People write of the complexity of modern warfare, but war has been complicated for a long time. A 17th-century Dutch
manual of drill identifies 43 steps in the loading, presentation, discharge, and recovery of a matchlock musket. The centerpiece
of a cadet musketeer's training would be the mastery of these steps, and subsequent exercises would serve to reinforce them,
with the tedium alleviated somewhat by drilling in different tactical formations. Of course, nothing could prepare the trainee
for the spectacle of a contemporary battlefield and the necessity of fulfilling his duties with enemy fire ripping through
the company of his fellows.
Whether pike and shot or missile and electron rule the battlefield, a properly trained force is likely to fare better
against one that is merely well drilled, for drill in and of itself does not enable mastery of the skills that will achieve
victory. Proper training is applicable training, and applicability depends on the expertise of people who devise training
regimens and tools and those who implement training programs.
Push-button warfare has long been a quasi-derisive term for slinging missiles and electrons at the enemy. Be that
as it may, button pushing as military art is something that can be reproduced in a classroom environment with near-total accuracy.
In fact, some warriors have become so far removed from their targets that the classroom experience and actual combat become
shades of the same activity.
The Patriot Operator Tactics Trainer (OTT) is a conduct-of-fire trainer, and it simulates the Patriot system with
remarkable fidelity, with each panel and console a perfect mock-up of the real thing, but in a classroom setting. Every action
that a student performs in the trainer corresponds exactly to the real action that would be performed. Doug Rutt, integrated
logistics support manager for BAE Systems (Nashua, NH), has been involved in the Patriot OTT program since the late 1970s.
According to Rutt, the Patriot OTT device is one part of a training regimen that also includes classroom instruction; computer-based
training; embedded systems with training functions; and, increasingly, web-delivered training and videoconferencing. Course
developers conduct an instructional performance requirements analysis, resulting in an instructional performance requirement
document that details the tasks and skills that crews must master. At its core, this is not so very different from the development
of a 17th-century manual of drill.
"Once we have that documented analysis, we determine on a per-task basis what tasks are most appropriate to be trained
in what media," Rutt said. "There is a progression of instruction on a sequence of media, with the final drill and practice
in the training device, where the student just goes through it, through it, and through it."
Rutt said that US Army Patriot missile crews in the Gulf War reported to him that combat launches were "just like
the trainer -- indistinguishable, in fact." While the effectiveness of the Patriot missile of the day, with its blast-fragmentation
warhead, in the anti- tactical-ballistic-missile (TBM) role was marginal, Patriot crews repeatedly demonstrated that they
could track and engage their targets just as handily as they had in the simulator.
Part of the reason for this, over and above the technical merits of the device, is because air defense as a mission
is a highly computerized task, with operators seated in a static location watching displays. The Patriot's AN/MSQ-104 Engagement
Control Station is inside an air-conditioned container, where three operators essentially play video games for keeps. Arguably,
the circumstances of Patriot engagements in the Gulf War were very much like training exercises in that the targets - although
TBMs rather than high-altitude aircraft - came on in an unsurprising fashion with nothing in the way of electronic countermeasures,
decoys, or other subterfuge. Furthermore, the Patriot batteries and their crews were not themselves at any great risk over
and above the statistically insignificant chance that they might be hit by a Scud. Certainly, the pressures of live launches
in action were present, possibly with attending fears that the incoming warheads might contain unconventional payloads. However,
there was no threat from manned aircraft, anti- radiation missiles, long-range artillery, or enemy special forces that an
air-defense unit might face from a more capable or resourceful foe.
A retired air marshal in the Indian Air Force said that he did not like simulators for pilot training because of
their artificiality. The graphics, the sounds, and the motions are unreal to the point of distraction, even with the best
technology due to the complexities of real combat aviation. The air marshal does not advocate the use of simulators for aircrew
training except in the area of procedures. Cockpit and crew-station simulators are excellent tools for procedural training
under stress, so that crews may operate any system on the aircraft automatically.
BAE Systems' Rutt readily agrees that every training media has its limitations, including realistic simulators. "Back
in the early days, we were pushing computer-based training as the way to solve all problems, which it certainly didn't," he
said. "There are many things that you need some hands-on experience with."
It's Your Move
Personnel from the US Army Air Defense School, Ft. Bliss, TX, learn on the Patriot Operator
Tactics Trainer. The system allows one instructor to train eight students simultaneously in the operation of the Patriot surface-to-air
missile system. Patriot crews in the Gulf War reported firing missiles in action was just like the simulator. BAE Systems
Most commanders in modern armed forces use simulation to exercise their staffs in procedures. The main
purpose of simulation though is to create a stressful and realistic experience for the staff to practice in. If there is time,
simulations can be used to "wargame," - create and test courses of action - as part of the mission-planning process. These
are the descendents of the kriegspiel, devised in the 19th century by the Prussian general staff, and are generally referred
to as command post exercises in the US.
"Stress and communication are the main objectives of command post simulation," said Major Christopher Fasulo, US
Army (ret.), currently president of Grognard Simulations (Cedar Hill, TX), a developer of wargames for the commercial market.
(There is a segment of the population that plays wargames for entertainment.) "Firstly to create a stressful environment and
second to improve communication between the primary staff officers and their sections. The simulation will generate a battle
for the commander that feels real."
According to Fasulo, simulations are great for testing EW. There are limits to what can be done due to the sensitive
nature of the electronic battlefield. But overall the integration of EW assets into the commanders' plan for finding the enemy
is critical. Much of the commanders' knowledge of the enemy is gained this way. The key for the commander and the plan is
integrating all the assets available to work together for the common goal: mission accomplishment. EW assets are modeled and
then deployed according to the plan. "Proper placement of these assets on the battlefield will make or break the unit's intelligence
and EW activities and the picture that is painted of the enemy forces and their objectives," Fasulo said. "Simulated terrain
becomes more important and the simulation will bring out whether the placement of EW assets is effective or defective."
Fasulo said that most simulations are portable enough to take to the field although they are not a regular part of
a unit's equipment. Units that are not engaged can request access to simulations so they can be used to game and exercise
a plan under consideration. Flaws in the plan can be determined and adjustments made before the actual time to conduct the
operation. This has been done during Desert Storm and in Bosnia.
Command post exercises are well and good, but there is no substitute for taking a plan out into the field for a test
drive. Although field exercises may involve hundreds of platforms and thousands of troops in a realistic setting, a key objective
remains one of putting communications under stress to see how well they function and to identify where the weak spots are.
In the Victory Strike II exercises in Poland in October involving land, helicopter, and air units of the US and Polish armed
forces, simulating communications between headquarters and maneuver units served an important function. Rather than put a
full corps headquarters into the field, the exercise managers employed communications simulators that connected the exercise
control facility at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area and the target area at the Wedryzn Training Area, 110 km away.
The live-fire exercise provided an opportunity for attack aviation units of the US 11th Aviation Regiment - equipped
with AH-64 Apaches - to conduct strike training against an opposing force comprised of US and Polish troops. A centerpiece
of the exercises involved an Apache attack on air-defense radar and missile sites in a populated area. Scenario developers
used software from Advanced Simulation Technology, Inc. (ASTI) (Herndon, VA), to create an application called Synapse that
allowed soldiers in remote locations to communicate using their Army SINCGARS radios as if they were located within radio
range. This was accomplished through a programmable module inserted between each radio and an IP-network node. A radio operator
keys the radio normally and the signals are sent through the Synapse module and over the IP network. The communication is
routed through the receiver's module, and then to his radio. The main advantage of this arrangement was that units were able
to exercise in areas best suited to their mission while retaining command and control as if the formations were closer together.
Thus, field commanders in charge of the attack helicopters on the Wedryzn test range remained in contact with higher echelons
located back at the Drawsko center, even though this would not have been possible over open air.
Charles McCullough of ASTI said that the Model Builder software is capable of simulating all of the characteristics
of a SINCGARS radio, including frequency hopping and encryption. Furthermore, it is possible to simulate EW effects, such
as comm jammers and radar-scan-pattern interference. Using ASTI's Telestra Remote Management System, exercise officials are
able to insert new conditions into the communications-network simulation from a remote location, on the fly.
Step by Step
Of course, field and range exercises are expensive and occasional events. There is a very delicate balance between
cost and effectiveness. There is a need for open-air training: It is probably the most effective way to train. But there are
a lot of cost prohibitive aspects to it. A significant part of the cost tends to be actual flight time with attending maintenance
and use of expendables such as ordnance or countermeasures. Plus, there is the added element of physical danger to crews and
equipment damage that attends any field exercise.
Ideally, the participants will be applying and sharpening knowledge they have received from other media. Fraser Barnes,
business development manager at Telemus (Kanata, ON, Canada) and a former EWO in the Royal Canadian Air Force, said that experience
shows that to be effective EW training requires a methodical program of individual and classroom instruction supported by
simulation and range work: "Oftentimes, trainees are introduced to simulators and live exercises without adequate foundation
and don't learn as much as they could have."
Another issue is that range-based training may not reflect the current generation of fielded threat systems with
absolute fidelity. It is a simple fact of the military acquisition process that EW and threat simulators on a range might
be a generation behind what is deployed in the field. The threat environment for aircrews is changing almost on a monthly
basis. The breakdown of the Soviet Union has increased the number of variations on particular threat systems, with this former
republic or that one making subtle but telling upgrades and performance tweaks to seekers and fire-control systems. Countermeasures
typically have to be tuned precisely to be effective against specific threats, and the proliferation and accelerated evolution
of threat species will rapidly make a crew's EW education obsolete.
"There is an intelligence loop that has to obtain these data, which then has to get back to the individuals in the
EW community who need to know about the threats in the regional interests that they have," said Michael Pilarski, team leader
for EW at Sierra Research (Kanata, ON, Canada). "Then crews have to be instructed appropriately."
Providing such instruction universally is beyond the capabilities of service academies and training centers as they
are currently structured. There are simply not enough well-rounded experts, courses, simulators, and ranges to provide every
crew thorough instruction in all the threats they might conceivably encounter. This basic reality tends to cause EW training
to be specialized, with specialist crews training against specific threat environments and scenarios. The foundations for
this type of training can be delivered in the classroom led by instructors with experience in the region of interest. Workstations
used for training in the classroom can be reprogrammed to reflect the most modern threats more easily and cheaply than expensive
range-type simulators. "The crews' countermeasures suites can then be programmed to counter the expected threat in the specific
environment," Pilarski said.
The next stage is a virtual level of training, where experience that is gained through a synthetically created mission
environment, with digital mapping plans for specific regions, tailoring the training to a particular geographic area rather
than making it more abstract and broadly applicable. Many modern mission-planning systems have graphical components that allow
scenario developers to overlay satellite or photoreconnaissance imagery on 3-D terrain maps. This enables crews to perform
mission rehearsal exercises in the classroom or bivouac on graphics workstations or dedicated mission planning computers,
as appropriate. Sierra's Excalibur business unit develops these region-specific mission- rehearsal applications.
One of the problems that may arise from simulation-based training is what is known as "negative training," wherein
the student learns the rules of the training program and not necessarily the lessons that are applicable to real life. An
example of this would be a scripted scenario that becomes predictable, or if a resulting action is counter to what might happen
in the real world. In such cases, the training decreases crew proficiency by reinforcing behavior that might get him and others
Integrated Training on Course
As EW systems move from being stand-alone units to comprehensive suite, so is EW training shifting from being compartmentalized
to integrated. For now, high-fidelity EW trainers for specific systems - such as the EWA (Herndon, VA) Battleforce EW Trainer
(BEWT), which is used to train US Navy EW personnel on the AN/SLQ-32A(V) and AN/ULQ-16 and soon perhaps the AN/WLR-1H(V)7
- still have their place. High-fidelity PC-based classroom training, such as that provided by Thales University in the UK,
also remains an important part of preparing sailors for the challenges of the electromagnetic environment at sea. As we head
into the 21st century, however, high-fidelity EW training is shifting towards a more hands-on approach, and the schoolhouses
ashore are going to sea as navies begin to realize the merits of integrated onboard training.
Of course, training could be accomplished with underway training exercises, but these come at no small expense. Classroom
training requires maintaining an extensive infrastructure of shore-based training facilities. Not only is this more expensive
due to the cost of the facilities themselves, but it also necessitates the upgrading of the facilities every time ships' systems
are upgraded, thereby increasing the cost of any naval upgrade. Thus, both of these training options have significant cost
drawbacks. The answer? Integrated shipboard training, ideally with embedded systems.
Jim Cooley, chief engineer at AAI Corp. (Hunt Valley, MD), explained the beginnings of naval shipboard EW training.
AAI, he said, had built a trainer for the US Army's Nike missile system, which consisted of a series of simulators housed
in trailers. In 1972, RADM Isaac C. Kidd visited the Army's training site for a "dog and pony" show and saw the trailers.
When the purpose of the trailers was explained to Admiral Kidd, he said that the Navy ought to have training systems like
that. "And because he was Admiral Kidd," said AAI's Cooley, "that meant we shortly got a contract to supply trainers to the
Navy, and that was the beginning of pier-side training."
Initially, these pier-side trainers were mere radar stimulators, but over the years, they've grown, adding other
functions of the combat system, including EW. Pier-side training, along with classrooms and underway exercises, has been the
backbone of naval EW training ever since the mid-1970s, but as EW systems and naval operations themselves become more integrated,
there arose a need for a more integrated training.
The centerpiece of the US Navy's integrated training is the Battle Force Tactical Training (BFTT) On-Board Training
System (OBTS), developed by AAI. The BFTT allows all the ships in a battlegroup to train together in a simulated environment
while in port. All the relevant systems are connected to a common network that the BFTT refers to as a Synthetic Theater of
War (STOW) network, the idea being that any simulator that is BFTT compatible can hook up to the STOW and participate in the
training exercise. Right now "there's fiber at every pier," said Bob Wilhite, director of training at AAI, "so they can have
multiple ships playing together." If you have multiple ships in a battlegroup, each ship would see exactly the same picture
relative to his position, from his own point of view, exactly as though they were at sea. And the trainees can then interact
with this environment. "They can, for example, direct combat air patrol to go intercept somebody," Wilhite said. "They can
direct it to shoot somebody down and be able to see all that happen on their displays." The battlegroup can see everything
in a virtual environment - hostiles, friendlies, and unknowns. They do their regular track reporting just like they normally
would. In addition, the BFTT can simulate IFF, chaff, jammers - all the things you'd normally encounter. Jammers, in particular,
are something that typically crews cannot be accurately trained against. As Cooley said, jammers are "something they don't
get to see in real life, because they don't turn on wartime jammers just for practice in peacetime. But they do get to see
synthesized jamming." The BFTT includes a parametrically programmable jammer synthesizer, which injects a jamming waveform
into the radar that would look like the real-word jammer. "The operator," Wilhite said, "then can try to defeat the jammer
like he would a real one, and if he's successful, the jammer's defeated. If he doesn't, he can't see a damn thing." Another
feature of the BFTT is that it synthesizes being killed, "which you can't really do in a real exercise." As Cooley pointed
out, getting killed for real while training "kind of defeats the whole purpose."
In its current state, the BFTT is a pier-side system, just like the trainers Admiral Kidd demanded. But in 1997,
the US Navy decided to migrate all the equipment from the trailers to the ships themselves. Thus was born the Carry On Combat
System Trainer (COCST), which AAI is also developing. The COCST will allow a plug-and-play training capability to be installed
as desired aboard US Navy ships, with an extra benefit: The ships will no longer be linked by cables to trailers at pier side,
essentially cutting the cord on underway simulation-based naval training.
Future EW systems are likely to have embedded training as part of the systems themselves. The US Navy's Advanced
Integrated EW System (AIEWS), produced by Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics and Sensor Systems (Syracuse, NY), is just one
such system (as is the BFTT, although the Navy has yet to implement this capability for doctrinal reasons). Staff systems
engineer Dave Stewart of Lockheed Martin explained, "When we run the trainer, we have operational and maintenance training
scenarios on a disk that we read in, and we execute events as we go through the scenario. We basically look to the display,
just like the tactical system does, so there is no separate box or external software or hardware anywhere." The benefit to
training on the system itself is apparent: It gives the operator "a real sense of what the system is and how it works," said
Pete Costello, Lockheed Martin's AIEWS program manager. "He gets to understand how each display works, how each window works,
and how the windows gang together so you can actually figure out what's going on."
The AIEWS has two modes of training that an operator may select: additive or substitutive. Additive is where training
is conducted while maintaining all of the real live tracks, and substitutive is training-only tracks. Typically, the Navy
doesn't conduct training in a hostile environment, but if they are in an environment where they are steaming along, and they
want to maintain a picture of the real world, the can go into additive training, which will allow them to maintain both. They'll
both show up on the display together. The system knows what's real and what's not, so that if they ever do need to exit training,
all the training tracks go away immediately, and the operator is left with his live picture. "This feature is becoming more
common," Stewart said. "We've done it for years and years in the sonar world, but I think it's new to the EW community. The
team training environment wants that capability." The AIEWS embedded trainer also has an interface to the STOW, which connects
to BFTT. Since BFTT enables training with other systems on the ship, other ships in a battlegroup, and theoretically any installation
around the world that has a BFTT capability, navies could run a global exercise with numerous participants around the world.
This training revolution has not gone unnoticed. "Onboard training for ships," AAI's Wilhite said, "is certainly
something that's caught the eye of other navies around the world as well." The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) approached AAI
in 1999 about providing a complete onboard training system for its six FFG-class ships, and the company is currently under
contract to develop an onboard training system for the Australian FFG-class ships, including radar interfaces, weapons interfaces,
tactical-datalink interfaces, navigation, etc - basically the same capabilities provided by the COCST, except these will all
be permanently installed onboard the vessels. The RAN also has a requirement that the trainers be interoperable with BFTT
for coalition training.
In Europe, too, there is an eye towards integrated onboard training. The next ships to be launched in Europe will
be the UK Royal Navy's (RN) Type 45 destroyers. One source said, "I wouldn't be surprised to see an onboard trainer on it."
In fact, the RN has funded studies, led by Alenia Marconi (Chelmsford, UK), for onboard training systems. The RAN has already
expressed a desire for coalition training with the US Navy. It seems likely that the RN, especially in light of the joint
operations currently being conducted with the US Navy in the Indian Ocean, will want a coalition- training capability based
on integrated shipboard trainers as well.
Trainees, to the Briefing Room
Training is artificial experience. It is practical, procedural learning combined with a distillation of the experiences
of others - where possible - and with a dose of the theoretical. The latter component is required to make the training applicable
to situations the trainee is likely to encounter in the future. After all, experience is necessarily rooted in the past.
Whatever its medium, training is not the same as drill. Excellent training builds on drill in order to improve the
agility of the mind, not lock it into orthodoxy and doctrine. A well-crafted simulation can provide crews with a new window
on their craft.
The opening sequence of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan depicts a trainee starship commander failing utterly in a
simulated rescue mission, all simulated hands lost. Admiral James T. Kirk, the grizzled veteran, informs the trainee, standing
crestfallen amid the ruins of the bridge simulator, that there is no way to win the scenario: "It's a test of character."
Copyright 2001 eDefenseonline.com & Horizon House Publications