Future training for Army aviation soldiers must be able to replicate the reality of combat using a synthetic training environment to supplement live training, Maj. Gen. Mark O’Neil said Jan. 14 at AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare Army Aviation Hot Topic forum.
O’Neil, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Combined Army Center – Training, said after a decade of wartime operations, "Tomorrow’s leaders and soldiers require a training environment that is as complex as the situations they have faced in combat."
Training events must be challenging, with multiple events and obstacles for units to consider and overcome.
"In the end, our ability to develop leaders and soldiers through high-quality realistic training will make the difference between life and death on the battlefield," O’Neil said.
In the near term, training capabilities continue to improve, with the Homestation Instrumentation Training System (HITS) on track to execute in the fourth quarter of 2016 at Fort Hood, he said.
Looking farther into the future, "the focus for aviation training is the Synthetic Training Environment (STE)," O’Neil said.
This new approach will combine virtual reality and gaming environments, allowing soldiers to train at the point of need through cloud technology.
Col. David Francis, deputy commander, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, said the difficult fiscal environment affects the flying hour program, which is at the center of training for a Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB).
He noted, "We still need flying hours, in addition to the simulations – we’re not just training individually, but to collective proficiency," and that requires live training.
However, gaming solutions can allow for more exercise repetitions
Adding, "As an aviation force, it’s very important that we retain the ability to conduct force-on-force training" and that requires adequate resources.
In the reserve component, "the number one priority is leader development," said Col. J. Ray Davis, division chief, Army National Guard Aviation and Safety.
He added, "To ensure that we are challenging and exercising our aviators, we need to be ruthless in our execution of training opportunities."
This AUSA Institute of Land Warfare Hot Topic was sponsored by Bell Helicopter, an AUSA sustaining member.