A three-day exhibition and conference, ITEC, dedicated to military training, education and simulation concluded in Germany recently
Around 90 per cent of battles are believed to be fought between state and non-state actors in the next 10 years. How does one train forces for that, given the complexity of warfare? How does simulation industry respond to this new challenge? These were some questions debated by the military, academia and industry from the simulation world, who had all gathered in Germany to be a part of the three-day exhibition and conference, ITEC. Organised by Clarion Defence & Security Ltd, the theme of this year’s conference was From Engagement to Preparedness: Implications for Military Simulation, Training and Education.
Experts identified capability, scalability, agility, complexity and uncertainty as the five major challenges faced by the armed forces. That is, forces should be trained in such a way that they are capable of operating successfully and quickly (agility) in all circumstances. While scalability can be ensured with a range of tools which the military should possess, complexity involves preparations for different and uncertain environment in which the forces operate. Even as military wanted industry to deliver on these lines, they also made it clear that they do not have adequate budget for the same. “Simulation is a necessity. We don’t have a choice,” said Maj Gen Richard Longo, Deputy Commanding General, US Army Europe and Commander, US Army NATO, adding, “Simulation, amongst other advantages also helps us save money.”
Attendees at the ITEC Conference and Exhibition
The event saw experts debate over a number of issues — from innovative learning technologies to cyber security; from emergency services to medical training, from virtual reality to virtual augmented reality. While some talked about the importance of good Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), others focussed on the challenges of interoperability and standards. According to Jean-Paul Dichter, Manager System Development, e.sigma Systems, augmented reality will find its way into the training business. That is the future — virtual combined with augmented reality.
Military Simulation and Training (MS&T) & NATO
The expected decline in NATO’s operational tempo following the change of ISAF mission in Afghanistan scheduled for the end of this year, is set to deliver a renewed emphasis on MS&T capacity as alliance partners shift from deployment to preparing for new challenges, said NATO officials who had gathered in large numbers at the event. “Direct interaction between customers and suppliers is crucial if we are to deliver an efficient military simulation and training market within the alliance’s borders,” said Wayne Buck, Modelling & Simulation Analyst with Allied Command Transformation at NATO. NATO had a series of sessions at the event where the participants discussed about their challenges, requirements and also demonstrated the technology available with them. In one such session, ‘The Connected Forces Initiative in Nations,’ the force provided an update on how nations are implementing the Connected Forces Initiative — a policy designed to maintain NATO’s combat effectiveness via expanded education and training through improved technology use. Similarly, in session, ‘2020 Technology Vision’, Brigadier General Gerd Bischof, Director Academic Planning at the NATO Defence College, spoke about the inevitable integration of Information Technology (IT) into the learning process, the limits of IT as a teaching tool and the economic case for its incorporation into modern systems.
The Global Military Simulation and Virtual Training Market 2014–2024 forecasts market growth at a CAGR of 3.48 per cent (as per study conducted by RnRMarketResearch.com). Also, as per marketsandmarkets.com, the global healthcare/medical simulation market, which was valued at USD 790.1 million in 2012, is poised to grow at a CAGR of 19.6 per cent in the forecast period to reach USD 1930.5 million by 2017. Little wonder then that medical simulation was one of the major attractions at the conference. Representatives from NATO shared their experiences with people, and explained how the training has helped the forces in saving lives of their colleagues operating in warzone.
The exhibition arena witnessed hectic activities all days. Exhibitors like Bohemia carried out live demos of its simulation capabilities before the people. Similarly, CAE together with Rolands & Associates (R&A) demonstrated a ‘comprehensive constructive simulation solution’ for joint training and wargaming. MASA, known for developing Artificial Intelligence- based Modeling & Simulation (M&S) software for defence community, showcased latest versions of its two flagship products: MASA SWORD and MASA LIFE.
Nearly 110 exhibiting organisations from 16 countries displayed their products at the event, which was held in May (20-22). The next edition of the conference, ITEC 2015, will be held from 28-30 April 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic.