How AI and Resilient Sustainment Will Help the Army Maintain Mission Readiness

How AI and Resilient Sustainment Keep the Army Mission Ready
November 29, 2021
Flash Kinloch and Ralph Briggs
By Flash Kinloch (l) and Ralph Briggs (r)

The U.S. Army faces new readiness challenges as the pace of technology development and mission scope rapidly evolve. The Army’s priorities to respond to these changes in the global environment are outlined in the Army Posture Statement 2021. The statement calls for the Army to focus on people, readiness, modernization and alliances to remain the nation’s principal response force. It also states that future training must prepare soldiers to excel in the joint all domain operational environment (JADO), so that commanders and soldiers make the right decisions, faster.

The Army is working to strengthen readiness to project forces on and from land to enable the joint force in peace and war. This requires a higher-level skillset by soldiers. The skills they need to master include large force collaboration, allied coordination and precise decision making.

Three capabilities in particular are critical to soldiers’ mission readiness in this evolving, complex landscape.

Cost-Effective, Available Training Where It’s Needed

Achieving a high level of readiness takes new and modernized training solutions for home station and deployed training. As the Army continues to explore new operating concepts and integrates new land capabilities, training interoperability across JADO environments will enhance land power. 

One solution for the Army can be found in trainers featuring open architecture, which provide a modular capability. Open architecture keeps these systems affordable over their life span and adapts to various armoured fighting vehicle types to deliver training at the point of need, allowing soldiers to continue training while deployed on missions.

The U.S. Army has implemented this model in the Vehicle Tactical Engagement Simulation System (VTESS), a training solution that combines multiple vehicle crew training systems into a single product line, providing seamless interoperability with the Army's existing Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement Systems (MILES). The modular, open-system design allows the Army to support system enhancement with the ability to “swap out” components from different manufacturers for interoperability and long-term growth.

Additionally, VTESS is capable of support to both the MILES Communication Code (MCC) and the Urban Combat Advanced Training Technology (CATT) Laser Engagement Interface Standard (ULEIS) to enable interoperable training among international allies.

Initial fielding of VTESS occurred in October at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk in Louisiana, and VTESS will be added to 20 additional locations by October 2023. There are more than 12,000 base kits on contract.

Deployable, open-architecture training devices underpin the Army’s focus on strengthening land power by sharing data across platforms and eliminating vendor lock. Distributed interactive simulation architectures and high-level architecture systems provide improved networking and interoperability. 

AI Training to Assess Performance, Improve Decision Making

The global threat environment is changing across all domains. Increasingly, soldiers are facing skill decay and cognitive overload due to the speed and detail necessary for each decision. Joint Force commanders operating within the all-domain environment need real-time decision support to respond quickly and effectively.

New data-driven training management methods can help the Army overcome this and provide a more accurate assessment of unit readiness. Army aviators, small unit leaders and combat commanders can leverage intelligent targetry that are able to gather information and provide analytics to give a better understanding of skills. Artificial Intelligence-based virtual instruction and intelligent after-action reviews can work in tandem to improve solider and unit skills.

By providing cognitive decision support at the point of need within the appropriate battle context, soldiers will be better prepared to manage battlefield information and make quick, accurate decisions.

These advancements will also help to shape army-to-army training, capacity building and resilience with other land forces across the partner and allied militaries. It’s why investments in AI training are so critical for performance assessment and to improve soldiers’ decision-making, as it enables the Army to keep pace with modernization and readiness requirements. Since training can be delivered wherever soldiers are, even on the battlefield, there never has to be a delay in increasing operational readiness.

Two additional steps will take training to the next level across company, joint task force and corps-level command and staff. First, the Army could extend scalable open architecture training to the Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) environment to connect sensors from all military services. Second, the development of a multi-resolution joint synthetic environment will allow multi-domain task force commanders to train as they fight.

The Joint All Domain Operations Staff Trainer covers the full spectrum of multi-domain operations.

The Joint All Domain Operations Staff Trainer covers the full spectrum of multi-domain operations.

Resilient Sustainment for 21st Century Warfare

Resilient sustainment provides assurance of an enduring warfighting capability.

Picture a high velocity supply chain with parts provided where and when they are needed thanks to an information management system, and there is no single point of failure across the logistics tail.

Examples of this are predictive maintenance and prognostic health management. Rather than waiting for part failure to trigger in-field repair, predictive maintenance capability makes it possible for maintainers to take action prior to the mission.

For example, take the U.S. Army’s Training Aids, Devices, Simulators and Simulations Maintenance Program (ATMP). Through ATMP, the Army can maintain maximum operational awareness and make informed training decisions using on-demand access to accurate, complete and timely data. It’s seeing the future before it happens to take the appropriate action and keep training and the supply chain humming.

Preserving Security

In summary, the success of the Army’s future fighting force relies on the ability to adopt advancements in training and resilient sustainment technologies.

The concepts discussed – interoperable training systems, AI-powered performance assessment and enduring warfighting readiness – enable training modernization and readiness for the Army. Implementing these concepts and tools more broadly will ensure soldiers remain prepared to compete globally, fight and win as a member of the Joint Force.

Flash Kinloch is vice president of Training and Simulation Solutions at Lockheed Martin. He has 20 years of industry experience within the training and sustainment space.

Ralph Briggs is the lead for the land training business development team at Lockheed Martin. He has 30 years of experience in live, virtual and constructive training systems for the U.S. Army and allies around the world. He served 20 years in the U.S. Army Armor/Cavalry and Acquisition Corps Lieutenant Colonel.