The 1st 2020 MATC Training Conference was held from 3rd to 5th March 2020 in Olomouc, Czech Republic. During this Conference, the Participants had an opportunity to visit two of CZE tactical simulation centres belonging to MATC Training Facility Pool: HTP (Helicopter Training Point) Ostrava CZ, and TSC (Tactical Simulation Center) Pardubice.
The main topic of the conference was an application of Distributed Training (DT) (Simulation delivery), where MATC currently investigates, supported by GAF SCC (Simulation Control Center) and WPC/DTC (Warrior Preparation Center/Distributed Training Center), a possible way for MATC Tactical Simulation Facilities´ involvement into the Distributed Training network.
What DT means: “Distributed training is an instructional model that allows instructor, trainees, and content to be located in different, noncentralized locations so that instruction and training can occur independent of place” (Wikipedia).
Firstly, MATC has to coordinate an analysis concerning means and expenses needed for a DT connectivity establishment. Secondary, if such expenses are in balance with a training value. To be honest, based on the interview below, it is possible to express that DT has a justification to be incorporated in the simulation training system of MATC both rotary and fixed wing air crews in the future.
The SMEs experienced in DT were invited for the MATC Training Conference in order to establish close cooperation with MATC and its tactical simulation facilities´ managers, additionally also to contribute with their knowledge to MATC DT analysis start up. To what extent the MATC DT would be developed depends on MATC nations´ training needs regarding a cooperation with NATO and other partners.
The Interview with 1st 2020 MATC Training Conference participants
We interviewed subject-matter experts, who participated on 1st 2020 MATC Training Conference, for their personal opinion regarding Distributed Training (DT):
LtCol Oliver Schmidt,
Head of GAF Simulation Control Center,
Sir, which personal experience with DT you have and where you see DT´s main benefit?
LtCol Oliver Schmidt: Distributed Training is the core task of my Center. We create a virtual training area where soldiers in their different weapon system simulators can exercise jointly from their respective unit’s home location. Thus, they prepare for complex missions, gain a deeper understanding of the character and limitations of other participants´ systems and learn to fight successfully. The approach is to move information, not people.
What is usually the main obstacle for a NATO member country which would perform a first DT project?
LtCol Oliver Schmidt: So far, we have encountered a wide variety of obstacles – incompatibility of data transmission formats, lacking access to a network in the respective security domain, uncertified bandwidth, no match of crypto devices and keys, missing national and network accreditation, failed device synchronization, non-availability of object models, faulty projection of weapons impact into federated systems, non-establishment of fair fight conditions and many others. It is hard to say which one is the main hurdle. However, one thing is clear: Eventually we’ll pass over it.
LtCol Christian Reichel,
Bundeswehr HSG 64 LTGrp Sim Ausb,
MATC Reporter: Sir, do you have any positive experience with DT regarding your aviation simulation centers?
LtCol Christian Reichel: Yes, our experience with DT has been a good one. DT is easier to set up/organize and with less overhead when compared to real life exercises, driving up the benefit to cost ratio. There are, however, aspects to keep in mind prior to training, such as ensuring a stable network connection and database correlation. These are required to achieve a good training session.
MATC Reporter: From your point of view, if it is possible in the future, would you see any benefit in mutual GAF/Bundeswehr – MATC participants helicopter crews on-line training?
LtCol Christian Reichel: Personally, I believe the benefit for a joint DT session between GAF/Bundeswehr and MATC to be quite significant. This activity allows us to share and exchange experiences within the European military helicopter community, which is already being done since several years through real life exercises (Blade – Exercise) in context of the Helicopter Training Program of the European Defence Agency.
Mr. Rolf T. Breier,
USAFE Warrior Preparation Center (WPC),
Distributed Training Center/OLI-Operations Lead Integrator- Exercise Director,
MATC Reporter: Sir, from your point of view, could you specify some of the most significant advantages of a DT?
Mr. Rolf T. Breier: Distributed training (DT) allows war fighters to train with large numbers of entities over an area size and distance that could not be accomplished over an actual country or coalition’s borders. It allows the white force (or exercise director) to control friendly unit tasking while managing the level of the enemy threat presentation over an actual, depicted, regional theatre database.
From a leadership perspective DT allows government observers and military leaders a high situational awareness view of their air/sea/land assets on the modern battlefield. Obviously, there are huge cost savings in synthetic blended training (virtual and constructive) over using and wearing out actual equipment. DT’s inherent safety benefits totally protect live personnel and preserve actual assets for future conflict or training.
MATC Reporter: Which DT (exercises) does your WPC support?
Mr. Rolf T. Breier: The WPC squadrons support over 100 exercises per year from EUCOM, NATO, USAFE/AFRICOM, coalition, and Partners for Peace at all Tier1-4 levels. At the Tier 3 and 4 levels, The DTC runs six to twelve 4-day Spartan Series exercises per year that concentrate on multinational/multiservice unit specific training. These various type exercises emphasize achieving tactical training objectives while practising mission planning, coordination, and execution.
Note: The WPC will soon become the USAFE/AFRICOM Warfare Center as it grows to meet future training requirements!
MATC Reporter: Based on your personal experience, how your WPC might support NATO members which firstly joining the NATO DT system?
Mr. Rolf T. Breier: The WPC DTC facilitates a mature Joint Exercise Life Cycle (JELC) that runs through 3 planning conferences, 1-2 weeks of testing followed by a week-long exercise and operational/technical debrief. This process is continually supported throughout by experienced subject-matter experts specializing in operations, technical, network, and communications support.
This is an exciting time for Live-Virtual-Constructive (LVC) training and 4th/5th Generation aircraft integration. We at the “new” Warfare Center love exercises and look forward to a more robust “distributed” future that might include space, cyber, and beyond?!
Col Mario Pleša,
Croatian AF HQ Representative,
MATC Reporter: Sir, from your point of view, how you can determine the main benefit of a possible DT between MATC and NATO partners´ simulation facilities?
Col Mario Pleša: From my point of view, first of all for smaller countries developing specialized training facilities only for they own need is too expensive and does not serve the purpose of making trading chipper and affordable. Secondly, distributing training have mutual benefits, for nation simulation facility becomes profitable or less expensive therefore more can be invested in further development, and for user nations becomes affordable and more nation funds can be addressed for development of other nation training needs which as well can be offered for DT. Thirdly, exchange of this nature in between partners is strengthening alliance and our interoperability, for we all use and practice same doctrine, tactics and procedures and all partners are aware of each other abilities and level of training.
MATC Reporter: MATC manages the Counter Air OPS (CAO) Training in Tactical Simulation Center (TSC) Pardubice, which is supported by TLP SMEs. Based on the survey, which was held on 4th March 2020, of this MATC simulation facility, where you can see a potential of in the future possible CAO DT and a possible on-line connectivity with NATO partners?
Col Mario Pleša: Training as in TSC Pardubice, not only for pilots but for interceptor controllers as well, in controlled environment, where any situation can be created (matter of scenario/mission creator imagination or nation training request), rehearsed and practiced without all the aircraft running expenses, airspace reservations, long term planning etc. and involved risk of mishaps is invaluable. Lunching countless and different types of missiles and evaluation during mission is just not possible in a real life. TSC Pardubice makes it possible and affordable. On-line connectivity with NATO partners brings it up to a different level and creates an environment for large simulator based exercises, as US WPC (Warrior Preparation Centre) has already developed in so-called “Spartan series” exercises. As they say, it is “way ahead”.
Mr. Miloš Pecha (Lt Col ret.),
HTP Ostrava CZ, Manager of Tactical Training,
Ostrava-Mošnov, Czech Republic
MATC Reporter: Sir, do you admit that your Helicopter Tactical Simulation Center would consider any possibility for DT in the future in order to train on-line MATC rotary wing crews with other NATO partners?
Mr. Miloš Pecha: Our training centre is fully supporting any effort in multi-platform distributed simulation training. We have been discussing this topic with our current and potential customers since the beginning of the tactical training delivery in 2016. MATC provides the optimal consultation framework to continue the multinational discussions on connectivity issues and potential distributed synthetic training delivery.
MATC Reporter: What is your opinion regarding to a possible comparison and verification of rotary wing crews´ training standards via a DT?
Mr. Miloš Pecha: Real time functional distributed simulated training undoubtedly provides higher level of interoperability and very effective experience exchange. It also brings higher demands on synchronization of mission planning conduct as well as technical functionality. Any distributed training effort needs to be well coordinated with the clearly defined criteria to deal with the existing various levels of tactical preparedness among the NATO/PfP nations. This could be done by establishing an DT authority, composed by the coalition of NATO/PfP nations participating in DT.
MATC Reporter: Which sort of tactical simulation Training you would like to execute with NATO partners, if your facility is capable for that?
Mr. Miloš Pecha: Having purpose-built helicopter tactical simulator in place and more important – having the Qualified Helicopter Tactical Instructor cadre in HTP Ostrava, the tactical simulation training would continue by the way we currently provided, with adding the new dimension – real time interaction with other units around the world. That way of training would speed up the tactical procedures’ standardization process enormously. With having DT system available, we would focus on training complex COMAO scenarios.
Thank you for the interview!
(The MATC web page article is based on personal view and experience)