Training as a Service for the Active Army
The Army’s Force Generation Process or ARFORGEN has been of tremendous value to leaders and Soldiers for the past several years. This process has helped to synchronize units against specific operational and contingency requirements that help predict deployments and schedule training in support of a deployment. The ARFORGEN cycle has three phases: RESET / TRAIN/READY and AVAILABLE, all active component (AC) units have fallen into one of these categories. The ARFORGEN process had its time, but it now appears that this process is becoming obsolete as the era of persistent conflict continues to evolve and shape how and when we train to face modern global conflict. Budget constraints and increasing operational requirements for all unit types means that training must be highly adaptable and scalable to meet the rapidly changing force packages that are being deployed in today’s complex world. Units or force pools under the ARFORGEN process had 180 days (R181-R365) to cycle through all phases of training in preparation for their next deployment. During this window, training would typically culminate with a 30-45-day massive training event at one of the Army’s Combined Training Centers (CTC) such as the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, CA. or the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk, LA. These large-scale training events involve the costly expense of moving an entire Brigade Combat Team (BCT) from home station to one of these training centers at a cost of roughly $20-$25 million. This does not include life support, ammunition or associated contract support. Arguably, the greater cost is the time spent planning these training events, the man hours spent finalizing the logistical details and the additional time spent away from home station. There is a training benefit to brigades training and reinforcing Reception, Staging, Onward movement and Integration (RSO&I), but with a great deal of these functions now being handled by theater support contractors and system contractors it is unclear as to the full benefit of this training.
As the force generation process changes, so too should the methodologies employed for large scale collective training events. One course of action worth exploring is the expansion of home station training through tailorable and scalable warrior training provided through the Training as a Service (TaaS) methodology. Such training packages are better aligned to accommodate overburdened AC unit training calendars and provide the flexibility to adequately meet the training objectives of today’s complex and often changing operational landscape. The troops stay at home station; equipment wear and tear is reduced and time and money is saved. Most importantly, the deployable nature of the TaaS methodology fully supports the Army Training Concept (ATC) capability plan for the future modular force. The ATC places an emphasis on home station training in support of an Integrated Training Environment (ITE). The ITE will incorporate live, virtual and constructive simulations, scenarios and command and control systems that meet the full intent of the Brigade-level Mission Essential Task List (METL) for execution at home stations, a Program Objective Memorandum (POM) funded activity.
Ravenswood Solutions is already providing scalable and tailorable training support packages to the Army National Guard, they can support platoon-to-brigade-sized training events. The proven capabilities of Ravenswood span the entire training event from inception and exercise design through execution and recovery to include sustainment. A critical component of the training provided includes instrumented live training; the FlexTrain system is a rapidly deployable, GPS based mobile instrumented live training system. This system tracks vehicles and participants to the individual level and allows leaders to monitor events in real time and replay scenarios in an instrumented After Action Review (AAR). The customized AAR includes a 3D playback of the event and is displayed on-site in a provided HDT Base-X large shelter. The AAR is interactive and includes geo-registered and time synchronized video, allowing the training audience to get immediate feedback on how they performed. As a recently retired AC Army officer and instructor, I can personally attest to the tremendous training value that this capability can potentially provide to our AC Soldiers at home station.
The Army’s new force structure will distribute units to higher demand environments that are aligned by theater, they must be able to flex quickly and train as opportunities avail themselves. The Training as a Service methodology will flex to the units, allowing Commanders far greater scheduling flexibility while simultaneously providing atmospherics that are tailored to their unit’s METL. The leadership and Soldiers can then focus on training and better prepare themselves for the challenges of this rapidly evolving era of persistent conflict.
First published by:
Gary Bonkowski, Ravenswood Solutions Sustainment Director
March 16, 2017