Troops swear by simulation tools

Training and simulation technology married with lessons learned in the Middle East over the past 18 months have improved dramatically enough to directly assist military forces set to deploy to Afghanistan later this year, a top military official said yesterday during a media briefing.

A rehearsal of a joint mission that was completed this week demonstrated the capabilities of the technology, said Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, director of joint training and commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command's Joint Warfighting Center.

Advancements in the logistics area, for example, mirror the capabilities of a video game familiar to Kamiya's kids. The Joint Deployment Logistics Model was used during the exercise.

"I guess I would compare our logistics modeling and simulations capabilities to SimCity," Kamiya said, "where in the context of an urban environment you can know how much fuel your car has [and] what is the bed capacity of a hospital."

These kinds of details trigger various reports and action to make sure that the proper combat support systems are in place to support operational requirements, he said.

From Nov. 14 to Nov. 20, U.S. forces participated in a unified training endeavor along with multinational counterparts and inter-agency partners. The exercise focused on the continuing requirements of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Being able to synchronize multinational forces for the exercise was a key success, said Brig. Gen. Joseph Votel, deputy commanding general of the 82nd Airborne based at Fort Bragg, N.C.

"Having watched several of these exercises in the past, the one thing that we have done very well in this exercise is use recent experience in theater, and take those events and build them into the exercise so that we are looking at very realistic situations on the ground," Votel said.

Working with U.S. partners in the operation also was a boon, he said.

"I had the opportunity to engage the other day with my Afghan counterpart in the Afghan National Army," Votel said. "We had an opportunity to talk about not only exercise related things, but other things that we expect to deal with on the ground."

Votel also had an opportunity to speak with his counterpart on the Pakistan Army side. "The individual that I will deal with on a day-to-day basis in theater was here supporting this exercise and is integrated into what we're doing," he said. As a result of the interaction, Votel said was able to start building a relationship with his counterpart "that's going to carry us over the next 14 months."

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Washington Technology.

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