4 min read | September 22, 2022
Synthetic Training Environments—Delivering and Sustaining Readiness for the Canadian Army
Training is the key to readiness for any military. Delivering realistic and challenging training is vital to preparing any military for the challenges they may face. By delivering challenging, realistic exercises, militaries build and sustain readiness. Calian has been a proven partner for the Canadian Army for over 25 years, designing, developing and delivering training to meet Canada’s readiness needs.
From Analog to Digital—Modernizing Training
In the 1990s, simulation-based training relied mostly on paper-based maps, wall-chart tracking, paper flipcharts and sticky notes. Analog management and paper-based injects were the norm, with Exercise Control (EXCON) coordinating the timeline and inject delivery using wall-sized paper tracking charts. The process was cumbersome, with EXCON coordinating and deconflicting activities to ensure a consistent, coherent version of the truth for all exercise participants. When Calian started working with the Canadian Army Simulation Centre (CASC), this was the technology available for delivering collective training.
The introduction of desktop technologies changed the approach somewhat. Email and shared file folders replaced paper traffic, though delivery was still manual. Large paper maps continued, with some digital imagery products supplementing the paper, though manual was still the default. Emails containing attachments were sent according to a master timetable, with corrections and updates sent as needed.
The advancement of simulation technology changed everything. Replacing manual processes with automation through digital platforms had the potential to revolutionize training design, development and delivery. Calian training developers and instructors worked directly with the Canadian Army to develop a vision for integrating digital technologies into CASC training delivery. The vision was for a simulation-based training tool that integrated exercise design, development and delivery of full-scale exercise into a single platform.
Calian delivered on this vision with the introduction of MaestroEDE™. Drag-and-drop functionality and clear, consistent structures allow new users and experienced users alike to harness the power of Maestro. The user interface is instinctive, allowing designers to layout a clear concept for the exercise, and allowing developers to build injects and materials to meet the objectives for each event—all in a single platform. MaestroEDE is compatible with the training development and delivery practices of any NATO country, built along NATO-standard practices for training and using NATO-standard military symbology. Maestro is approved for use on unclassified and classified networks, with options for cloud delivery or local-network installations.
Integration of Simulation-Based Data
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan made command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities central to any military operation. With the integration of C4ISR capabilities from the strategic to tactical level, military training had to simulate these capabilities to build and sustain readiness. MaestroEDE was not built for this purpose, so new innovation was required to integrate C4ISR data.
Calian developed Virtual Command and Control Interface (VCCI) to address the challenge of data integration for simulation-based training. VCCI is effectively a middleware that connects military simulation data from any source into a single environment. Exercise activities in one environment—air sorties, battalion movements, signature equipment movements—are reflected in all environments, creating a common synthetic environment using many simulation platforms. VCCI is platform-agnostic, connecting data from any simulation technology into C2 applications. VCCI does data translation, transformation and coordination services to deliver a seamless user experience for simulation-based military training.
Using VCCI, exercise designers integrate simulation data streams from any exercise participant system, creating a fully immersive experience that includes all participants in a single environment. Using VCCI, any training scenario can be delivered. Air-land operations, amphibious and littoral operations, special operations, large force-on-force naval operations, missile threat exercises and air defence exercises can all be generated in a synthetic environment.
Looking to the Future
Technology never stands still and military training technology is no exception. The success of Maestro and VCCI are not the end of the story. Calian is constantly making improvement to solutions to deliver a more realistic training experience, and accelerating how quickly training can be developed and configured.
MaestroEDE is adding a Storyboard feature to provide a simple, intuitive interface to develop the overall concept of operations for exercises. For exercise development, your team can assign a description, training objectives, related events and desired end state for each event. Storyboard will allow designers and developers to save time and effort in exercise development and connect events more smoothly.
Calian has also improved efficiency in changing the terrain in synthetic training environments. Using Terra Tools, Calian is updating terrain in synthetic training environments in minutes. This used to take hours or days. Making rapid changes to synthetic terrain based on battle damage, weather effect or natural disaster allows for impacts of exercise injects to be rapidly reflected in the training environment.
For individual training, the growth of virtual reality and augmented reality technology presents new opportunities. Using Microsoft HoloLens, Calian has developed individual training programs for a range of applications including replenishment at sea while underway and directing joint fires for joint terminal attack controllers. Virtual and augmented reality technologies improve the quality of the training experience, improve knowledge retention and improve student engagement.
There is also interesting potential to integrate medium and high-fidelity crew trainers into collective synthetic training environments. Integrating previously stand-alone devices into existing synthetic training environments could further enhance the realism of simulation-based training. Connecting more human operators into a common training environment puts more human interaction and decision-making into simulation-based training, with tactical creativity and errors in judgement creating effects in synthetic environments.
Calian has a long history of working directly with defence customers to deliver on their training needs. From the days of paper maps and markers to using virtual and augmented reality in synthetic training environments, Calian delivers military solutions with confidence for no-fail missions.
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