ORLANDO, Fla. The top general at Army Forces Command on Tuesday called on experts in training and simulation to push forward with innovations and training options even during a time of tight budgets, saying their technologies are essential as global threats evolve.
"The raid on bin Laden could never have happened without the use of simulations," said Gen. Mark Milley in the keynote speech at I/ITSEC. "Those here today must expand training options across the entire spectrum of war. We need to do this now and in a time of fiscal constraint. … Threats are multiplying, not going down."
As the Army builds Force 2025 and beyond, he said, "We are committed to training and investment. Simulations and realistic training are fundamental to what we do."
The Army learned valuable lessons during sequestration in the past year about "how rapidly our readiness can decline," Milley said. "We must do more than simply train. We must have realistic exercises."
Innovations can emerge even when spending is limited, Milley said. He used as an example the post-Vietnam era when the defense budget was cut more than 40 percent, yet stealth technology was developed during that time.
"We must continue the innovative spirit through trying times," he said. "Keep the soldier in the mud and dirt in your minds."
Combat training centers and the training that takes place there are effective because they provide simulations that are "repetitive, enduring, and relatively speaking, they are inexpensive" Milley said.
Realistic systems such as the Close Combat Tactical Trainer and the Engagement Skills Trainer provide "immersive training experiences repeatedly at low cost," Milley said. "These are critical to our success."
He also called on industry to keep the Army Reserve in mind when developing products, adding that 75 percent of Army logistics resides in the Reserve.
While the military is focused on fighting, a high emphasis remains on deterrence.
"We have tanks from the 1st Cavalry Division facing east in Poland and Latvia and Estonia," Milley said. "For our deterrence to be effective our opponents must recognize the tank commanders, gunners and drivers sitting in those tanks know what they're doing, they are capable and they are lethal. Much of that comes from training and simulation."
As the world situation grows more complex, along with the need for rapid and ready response, training soldiers in a wide range of scenarios is key.
"To prepare our soldiers for a variety of missions we must test them over and over and over again," Milley said. "Our great military leaders in history, from Washington to [Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond] Odierno, have cut through the fog of war because they were able to visualize and rehearse in their minds … the sequences of battle. As the battlefield becomes more complex and events happen more rapidly we must leverage simulation tools and gaming mechanisms [so] all leaders at all levels, from sergeant to general, can hone their decision-making skills and the art of war. We must stay on the cutting edge of the simulation world.
"You hone the knife and sharpen the edge to make this possible," Milley told the audience.
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