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AUSA WINTER SYMPOSIUM AND EXHIBITION The rapidly changing battlefield, asymmetric warfare and an ever-growing list of virtual challenges for the Army – this was the focus of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) 2009 Winter Symposium and Exhibition from February 25-27. Driven by AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare, the Winter Symposium is a prelude to AUSA’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., in October and serves as a key professional development forum on issues ranging from technology and training to updates on actions and efforts worldwide. 5,000 attendees, exhibitors and presenters, participated. An overriding issue for the Army is rapid deployment of technology from the drawing board onto the battlefield. For example, SAIC, the primary contractor for the Army’s Common Driver Trainer (CDT) program – which has produced Stryker and M-1 cabin development at Ft. Knox, Ky., by upgrading them to CDT standards – is focused on their third CDT variant that supports the MRAP Cougar cab. But with software, said David Rees, senior vice president and director of business development, SAIC can support multiple MRAP variants. “It was a very high-speed development, just like the [MRAP] program itself,” he said. “We actually had the cab physical mock-up at AUSA Winter last year, demonstrated it working at AUSA national in October … an we’re now delivering production variants to the Army.” With a common software environment, the cabs operate as a “plug-in, plug-out”. In about 30 minutes, the simulator can switch from an MRAP to a Stryker. SAIC also has a single helicopter variant based on the same technology. “We’ve got very strong up-front systems engineering, so we know what the requirements are, we know what the nuances are of the vehicle,” Rees said. “We call it composable systems … It allows us to be much more responsive to technology changes or – frankly more important for us – operational changes.” A walk to the outdoor exhibit area provided an additional look at new technologies and methods to prepare troops for deployment. One particular exhibit provided live simulation demonstrations that included actors and extensive settings to get troops closer to the action. For about seven years, Strategic Operations has provided training tools that bring the military as close to the physical and psychological action as possible, but in a controlled and safe environment. Currently providing training for Marines at Twentynine Palms, Calif., this “HyperRealistic” approach utilizes movie-making techniques and trained professional actors. “Amputee role players [for example] know how to act and emote, and we put limbs on them and blow them off, and we put all kinds of special effects in there, things that you would see on television,” said Kit Lavell, Strategic Operations executive vice president. “Army medics, for example, and Navy corpsmen very rarely get a chance to see traumatic combat injuries in a training environment.” Unlike situations where medics are unable to train with their units, he noted that their live simulations combine combat surroundings and realistic injuries to bring all elements of the team together. With an emphasis on the types of injuries that occur in counter-insurgency, Lavell said, medics see realistic injuries that are more serious before they reach the real thing in combat. “You can have an actor be able to go through the acting portion of that, which is very important, because sometimes it gives you good information, sometimes it gives you bad, just like in the real world,” he said. While no troop has been hurt during these simulations, Stu Segall, Strategic Operations president said, “We’ve had guys who think they’re going to die.” Among the other hundreds of exhibits, these training techniques illustrate efforts to bring troops as close to combat as possible, before deployment. The AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition is scheduled for October 5-7 in Washington, D.C. Amid the abundance of technological wares that will make the trip to Washington will be a long-awaited look at the 2010 budget, perspectives from anew administration and perhaps a clear roadmap for the future of the Army’s ever-changing landscape.
MS&T MAGAZINE • ISSUE 2/2009
NEW GENERATION LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS The recently launched ROLE project aims at delivering and testing prototypes of highly responsive technology-enhanced learning environments, offering breakthrough levels of effectiveness, flexibility, user-control and mass-individualism. The ROLE consortium consists of 16 internationally renowned research groups/companies and is funded by the European Commission. ROLE researches adaptivity and personalisation in terms of content and navigation and the entire learning environment and its functionalities. This approach permits individualisation of the components, tools and functionalities of a learning environment, and their adjustment or replacement by existing web-based software tools. Learning environment elements can be combined to mash up components and functionalities, which can be adapted by lone learners or groups to meet their own needs and to enhance the effectiveness of their learning. This can help them to establish a livelier and personally more meaningful learning experience. The validity of ROLE’s research will be assessed in several real-life testbeds, among them adult education at Shanghai Jiaotong University (SJTU), one of China’s top universities. “This testbed is extremely challenging,” said Dr. Carsten Ullrich from SJTU. “Our 19,000 students have a job and a family. They take courses in their sparse free time. If our research enables them to learn more effectively, then our approach will have proven its validity.” To achieve that goal ROLE will integrate tools that stimulate active learning, including from mobile phones.
WSO INSTRUCTORS BVR Systems (1998) Ltd. has been awarded a contract with a leading air force to train Instructors of Weapon Systems Operators (IWSO). The contract is valued at approximately US$1.45 million. The training courses will qualify the instructors in performing air-to-air and air-to-surface roles, as well as warfighter fundamentals such as airmanship and emergency procedures handling. The course will be conducted through both classroom lectures and practice sessions in BVR’s full mission simulator.
Published on Mar 11, 2009