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Communications of the ACM

Multimodal Integrated Team Training


Distributed Mission Training is the creation of a shared environment comprised of real, virtual, and constructive systems that allow teams of individuals to train both individually and collectively. While DMT is primarily a team-training concept that has evolved in the U.S. Department of Defense for its operational forces, its foundations in terms of training principles and technologies have far-reaching implications to the field of human training in general.

The concept of DMT and its potential applications have their roots in the creation of an immersive, fully integrated, seamless information system that connects independent simulation-based training environments to operate together. The result is a synergistic, hybrid environment of VR systems in which information is dynamically shared and used among a group of individuals engaged in real-time mission critical activities requiring coordination and communication. Such a hybrid environment would provide significant economies, compared to the cost of moving people and resources in training at the scale of global operations with actual equipment. This concept is particularly relevant to the training programs in the military, where collective training involving several weapon systems, command and control systems, and training systems is becoming increasingly critical. This training possibility is envisioned through a seamless integration of real, virtual, and constructive domains of operation in a global environment.

The synergistic combination of the three primary domains of DMT can become both the training and the operational backbone of future enterprises, where actual operations and training events are differentiated only by their objectives and outcomes. The real portion consists of the actual operational equipment; in the military context, this will be weapon systems, command and control systems, information, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets and the logistical support infrastructure. The virtual portion consists of the training environment and media, such as equipment simulators, synthetic environments, planning/preview/rehearsal systems; training management systems, distributed and secure connectivity, instructor/operator stations, performance measurement systems and archival capabilities. It's clearly obvious these components could constitute a VR training environment in any operational setting. The constructive portion consists of interactive and animated computer-generated models that enrich the training environment by adding desired levels of operational characteristics and complexity. A high-level view of the evolving DMT framework is shown in Figure 1.

The training and readiness benefits of DMT will become apparent when these disparate systems are integrated to create an interactive, dynamic environment. This will allow each media to be used independently or synergistically to support all levels of training: individual, procedural, and coordinated team training involving high levels of communication and decision making. In the military context, this can be seen as a real component of DMT consisting of weapon systems to operate in existing airspaces and ranges; a virtual component consisting of simulators conduct training in realistic synthetic renditions of those same areas; constructive computer-driven models will provide the training scenarios at both the real and virtual levels. Real-time networks provide the connectivity for planning and execution of tasks by players at remote locations. Depending on their objectives, the players will then have the option to operate using their respective actual equipment or simulation components to optimize performance and training effectiveness, and minimize operational risks in live training.

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Performance and Cost Implications

The underpinnings of these new training environments lie in the potential of affordable and effective computational, network, and simulation technologies. A suite of core training technologies is rendering this possible. Regardless of the application, the focus of the emerging technologies is to provide individual and team access to mission-critical data, accuracy in VR representations of the real world, and coordination mechanisms. With the increasing needs to enhance the quality of communication and decision making in team training, DMT systems are beginning to provide novel capabilities for experimentation and learning. The constructive models of simulation, cue coordination through real-time synchronized imaging systems, and online connectivity for both human and model-level communications have been proven prototypically.

A global training enterprise like DMT could be somewhat expensive. In particular, R&D and procurement represent significant investments. However, the costs for global DMT should not be viewed as totally additive. In fact, if DMT is viewed as a unifying, integrating concept, then significant economies of scale and scope can result from up-front commitments to universally support its implementation. Note that DMT is viewed as an environment integrating real, virtual, and constructive domains. Therefore, the already committed investments in the real components of existing training systems do not accrue in DMT costs in totality, except for any reengineering and adaptations to these systems that may be necessary for their integration with the DMT environment. In the military context, the existing weapon systems and command and control systems belong to this category. However, DMT requires additional investments in simulators, training platforms, imaging systems and networking capabilities. In fact, DMT can also be viewed as the next generation virtual and constructive training systems by many organizations when the existing facilities come up for upgrades. Consequently, this could also entail a proration and absorption of some of the DMT costs from existing training capabilities.

Furthermore, the core technologies of DMT are nearly universal; they are common to most types of training, education, and even entertainment environments. As a result, multiple benefits in different domains of applications can be derived from any R&D investment in DMT technologies. Reducing dependence on the actual operating equipment for training by using DMT in conjunction will dramatically lower operating costs while extending the lives of the actual operating systems. Synergistic, hybrid environments could also make training more effective. DMT can create a substantial improvement over current capabilities for a modest increase in cost over what is already being committed for disparate activities. In fact, a common global vision for this integrating concept could conceivably lower the cost for a far superior training capability.

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References

1. Adams, J. The Next World War. Simon and Schuster, NY, 1998.

2. Andrews, D.H., Carroll, L. and Wellik, J. Distributed Mission Training. Armed Forces J. Int. (Dec. 1998), 46-49.

3. Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. Joint Vision 2010. (1997).

4. Clancy, T. Net Force. Berkley Books, 1999.

5. Toffler, A. The Third Wave. William Morrow, 1980.

6. Toffler, A. and Toffler, H. War and Anti-War. Warner Books Edition, NY, 1993.

7. United States Air Force. Global Engagement: A Vision for the 21st Century Air Force. (1996).

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Author

Lynn A. Carroll (lcarroll@uswest.net), a retired USAF colonel, is a senior systems analyst for AB Technologies, Gilbert, AZ, and a former commander of the Warfighter Training Research Division of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Mesa, AZ.

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Figures

F1Figure 1. A framework for DMT systems.

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©1999 ACM  0002-0782/99/0800  $5.00

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The Digital Library is published by the Association for Computing Machinery. Copyright © 1999 ACM, Inc.


 

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