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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program 5 Training and Education OVERVIEW During the 1990s, the National Research Council conducted three studies on the training of Service personnel. The studies’ findings and recommendations, reproduced in Appendix B, provide relevant background for this review of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Code 353’s training and education science and technology (S&T) endeavors. 1 The four main thrusts in this technological imperative are virtual environment training, live simulation for Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT), Marine air-ground task force (MAGTF) federated object model (FOM), and tactical decision games. More than 50 percent of the financing in training and education is being spent on the first thrust—virtual technologies and environment (VIRTE). VIRTE’s aim is to provide realistic combat simulators for a variety of missions and to complement live training in order to enhance the performance of individual warfighters and small teams. The goal is to make training more flexible, less costly, and more efficient. In contrast with flight simulations and combat and weapon systems simulations, simulations envisioned in this thrust employ immature technology that is steadily improving. The relationship of VIRTE to the Capable Manpower future naval capability (FNC) is unclear, as is whether ONR Code 353 will have a major role in its management. The live training for MOUT will provide capabilities for instrumented combatants, urban terrain, and infantry weapons. Its goal is to enhance force-on-force training with high realism for improved performance. 1 Table B.2 in Appendix B shows the technology-based training capabilities expected to be available in 2035. The capabilities sought are evolutionary, not revolutionary. They reflect the eight areas of development likely to change the nature of Navy and Marine Corps training and are outlined along with more than a dozen key enabling technologies. The current, relatively small Marine Corps training and education program is limited largely to one of the eight areas of development— virtual reality—and employs only some of the enabling technologies.
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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program The objective of the MAGTF FOM thrust is to develop a prototype FOM standard for simulator integration to support collective training. Its goal is to deliver a consistent view of the battlefield and sensor interactions for each participant. The long-term objective of the tactical decision games is to provide network-compatible PC war games that are realistic and engaging. This thrust employs proven, commercially available technology and exploits the wide use of war games currently sold. PROGRAMS REVIEWED Small Unit Tactical Training The stated objective of the Small Unit Tactical Training (SUTT) program effort is “to develop and evaluate virtual environment technologies supporting a training concept to permit individual, team, and interteam distributed training in a synthetic environment.” The requirement for this program is to better prepare warriors to meet the physical, emotional, and intellectual demands of modern battle at a time when pretraining budgets and time for live training are decreasing. The effort seeks to improve the quality of interaction provided by virtual environments (VEs) and to develop a reusable VE that will permit interactions in a coherent battlefield. The SUTT program itself ends in FY02, but three followon demonstrations are being planned between FY02 and FY07 that move progressively from platform simulation to close-quarters battle and up to full-spectrum combat. Findings The committee believes the SUTT program to be extremely important, well-leveraged by other VIRTE efforts, and unique in its effort to create a fully immersive perceptual illusion for the trainee, incorporating realistic interactions. The committee fully supports this effort but also recognizes that little is being invested in basic research and that the program is technology-limited. Recommendations The committee recommends that efforts be made to quantify payoffs against baseline performance and against other alternatives. It recommends that a formal evaluation plan be developed at this time that explores cost-effectiveness goals. Real-Time Motion Capture for Virtual Reality The goal of this small 6.1 and 6.2 virtual locomotion research effort is to provide natural, direct control over simulated locomotion for realistic maneuver through VEs. Findings The committee was very impressed with the program and its execution to date. The planned comparative evaluation of three virtual locomotion techniques for a number of tasks is a needed step in demonstrating relative values quantitatively. Although this effort appears to be a very desirable enhancement of VIRTE, its continuation seems to be in doubt.
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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program Recommendation Budgetary constraints aside, this effort should be continued and the cost-effectiveness of higher fidelity should be demonstrated. Wearable Computers The objective of this effort is to provide untethered motion and movement for individuals performing in a virtual environment and to provide real-time access to electronic technical manuals. The untethered system will provide a more realistic training environment. The technical approach leverages a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) optical three-dimensional input and tracking device. Findings This appears to be another worthwhile addition to VIRTE, but again there was no mention of an evaluation plan or comparison with a baseline. Recommendation The effort should be continued through demonstration and should include evaluations. Rapid Synthetic Environment Database Generation, Small Business Innovative Research, Phase II The objective of the Rapid Synthetic Environment Database Generation (RSEDG) program is to develop a prototype of a near-real-time, automated, three-dimensional model-generation capability to process video scenes into three-dimensional images. This technology will be applied to VIRTE trainers. Findings The committee believes that if the development is successful, it may help to expand three-dimensional applications and enrich VE training. In the brief presentation, it appeared that the technical approach was to utilize the most promising available technique rather than develop a new technique or advance existing techniques. Recommendation The effort should be continued through demonstration and should include evaluations. K-band Shoot Through Obscuration and Training Scoring System Advanced Technology Demonstration The objective of this program is to enhance the combat training ability of the operational range instrumentation system (RIS). K-band shoot through obscuration (STO) may overcome the limitation of utilizing the multiple integrated laser engagement system (MILES) in an obscured environment. Currently MILES cannot record a target pairing when impeded by a variety of obscurants.
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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program Findings The committee notes the current success of MILES at the National Training Center in an unobscured environment and could perhaps be persuaded that despite the general need to ease OMFTS logistics by maintaining a high ratio of hits to fires, there is a need to score fires directed at obscured targets. However, the committee notes that a weapon-mounted Ka-band antenna will encompass a diameter of only a modest number of wavelengths and consequently have a rather coarse beam. Such a system would not score weapon/target pairing accurately except at the shortest ranges. Recommendation The committee recommends withholding approval to build hardware until the angular accuracy of the system is calculated and the Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC) affirms that the predicted performance would be useful. Military Operations in Urban Terrain The objective of this research is to enable the tracking of individuals, without losing contact, in a MOUT environment. Findings The committee believes that the effort could enhance live training for MOUT through instrumentation. Currently, two competing approaches are being developed, and transitioning to the MOUT environment could occur at the end of Phase II in FY02. No additional research resources were indicated. Recommendation This effort should continue through transitioning and evaluation. MAGTF Federated Object Model The objective of this effort is to develop a prototype FOM standard for simulator integration. As a required interoperability standard, it will establish standard interface and interoperability requirements for combat system simulators. The key technical challenges noted were identifying a common synthetic environment and developing a FOM prototype capability in an open architecture demonstration. The effort is in an early stage and when completed will be mandated for use by FY03. Findings The committee agrees that the lack of interoperability among independently developed simulations is a thorny problem, notes that writing and mandating a standard are not S&T endeavors (although demonstration of its implementability arguably could be), that the provision of a common real-time interface does not ensure correct interoperation, and that the proposed schedule is very ambitious. The committee also notes that ONR recently made a corporate decision to embark on a major multidepartment
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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program effort to tackle some of the hard problems in simulation technology, including efforts in Code 31 on techniques for the integration of disparate models and simulations. Recommendation The committee recommends that the task force that formulated the ONR corporate modeling and simulation initiative review this program, evaluate the likelihood that it can meet its goals, and recommend any needed modifications to the program plan. Marine Air-Ground Task Force XXI and Marine 2000 Close-Combat Tactical Decision Games The objective of this effort is to develop low-cost individual and multiplayer tactical decision games developed from commercial PC games. Findings The enabling technologies are available. The committee believes that the adaptation of commercial games is a good idea. The program as presented is needed, but very few new technologies are being developed and it is unclear who is doing the current technical work. Nevertheless, the program appears to be the beginning of a significant means of increasing training effectiveness and efficiency by converting standard forms of training to technology-based distributed training. The adaptation of commercial games for decision making is a challenge. Recommendation Evaluation plans that include objective measurement against baseline conditions should be incorporated into the effort. Summary of Recommendations for Training and Education A summary of recommendations for training and education is given in Table 5.1 . TABLE 5.1 Summary of Recommendations for Training and Education Project Recommendation SUTT Quantify payoff. Develop a formal evaluation plan. Motion Capture Continue, but demonstrate cost-effectiveness of fidelity. Wearable Computers Continue through demonstration; include evaluation. RSEDG (SBIR Phase II) Continue through demonstration; include evaluation. STO Scoring Withhold approval until angular accuracy is verified. MOUT Continue through demonstration and evaluation. MAGTF FOM Review, reevaluate feasibility, and adjust as indicated. MAGTF XXI and TDGs Incorporate evaluation plans.
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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NEW PROGRAMS The MCCDC identified five imperative capabilities to enable OMFTS. One of these areas is training and education. Other key areas generally included in research on human performance are the human-machine interface (human factors engineering) and selection and assignment. A more complete systems view of human capabilities in Marine Corps operations is needed—one that takes into account the interactions among such major factors as selection, training, and ergonomic design, and how they contribute to the overall competence of individuals and teams. In an expanded research program, it would be desirable to conduct cost-effectiveness analyses to establish priorities among the areas of research competing for scarce budgetary resources. Four new training applications are recommended for emphasis in future technological developments. General Military Training Standardized training packages covering essential military knowledge and skills should be available at any time within a training cycle at every computerized workstation at each Marine’s convenience. Cost-effectiveness analyses would be required to determine the optimal balance between residential, mission operational specialty preparation training, and on-the-job training. Proficiency Training The skills of operators and maintenance personnel should be greatly enhanced through the use of advanced embedded training capabilities. Team Training The capability for extensive networking of simulators and microwave linkages to allow land, sea, and air units to train together at the same time against the same mission objectives should be developed. Study and modeling of cognitive processes important to OMFTS should be undertaken. Limitations of Close-Combat Computer Games Some members of the committee believe that U.S. superiority in air-to-air combat, despite rough parity in aircraft and weapon capabilities, results from the heavy U.S. investments in training flight hours, instrumented training ranges with reconstruction capabilities, and VEs with expensive, high-fidelity displays. Other nations cannot or choose not to make these investments. A possible research topic, either for the training and education program or for the 6.1 program, would be to assess the limitations of training games based on commercial computer technology in order to determine whether the inevitable worldwide dissemination of this technology threatens U.S. combat superiority. Summary of Recommendations for New Investments in Training and Education A major part of the challenge in developing military (or consumer) gear is to make it reliable and user friendly. The impression is that developers do a fairly good job when pressed. To do it right
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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program Box 5.1 Summary of Recommendations for New Investments in Training and Education General military training Proficiency training Team training Limitations of close-combat computer games A long-range research and technology plan for overall training and education that includes the rationale for selecting programs requires that the developer and the operator work together. Experience with computer games and simulators has enabled high school graduates to operate at a high level many complex systems with reasonable amounts of additional training. Another important aspect of this issue is the close involvement of the contractor with support for the system: maintenance, training, software support, and so forth. If all these aspects are handled correctly, which is a challenge, then the education levels of available troops are probably sufficient. But it will take work, and, in some aspects, doing things differently. Although the best results will probably come from appropriate designs and tests and use of the right acquisition approach, some S&T efforts probably could help with the process and ONR might be a good place to take a look at the fundamentals. A summary of recommendations for new investments in training and education is given in Box 5.1 . CONCLUDING REMARKS The main issue being addressed in work on training technology is how to transform conventional forms of training into advanced technologies that can be distributed to the field for training individuals and teams. Such technologies need to be effective and efficient and tailored to Marine Corps needs. The training technology currently being developed and the new topics suggested by the committee capitalize on improvements and applications such as collaborative virtual environments, interactive distance learning, and embedded training. Research has shown that technology-based training can increase performance much more successfully than centralized training and can reduce training time and training resources. 2 Additionally, technology-based training is accessible to and motivates the student and the warfighter. The S&T programs reviewed are clearly needed and conceptually sound. It is apparent that the Marine Corps must leverage external efforts because of severe budgetary constraints. Such leveraging is being accomplished through partnerships, cooperative agreements, and keeping current with developments. Perhaps because of the need to leverage and the newness of the efforts, the committee could not identify a coherent, integrated, or consistent program. A long-range research and technology plan that includes the rationale for selecting programs is needed for the overall training and education area. 2 See, for example, Fletcher, J.D. 1990. The Effectiveness of Interactive Videodisc Instruction in Defense Training and Education, IDA Paper P-2372, Institute for Defense Analyses, Alexandria, Va.
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2000 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Marine Corps Science and Technology Program If VIRTE management transitions to the Capable Manpower FNC, Code 353’s responsibility will be to manage a discovery program in training technology. Much of the existing Code 353 program consists of experimenting with available technology, a function that could be assumed by the FNC if not by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory. Of the programs reviewed, only the virtual locomotion research effort seemed to be pushing technological frontiers and to have a coherent research plan that explicitly included evaluation. Demonstration of new capabilities is a requirement, but training technologies must also be shown to be cost-effective, adaptable to differing individual abilities, motivating to individuals and teams, and applicable to new problems. To accomplish this requires careful attention to the early development of training evaluation plans as an integral phase of the overall developmental process.
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